Recently a basset hound puppy in Colorado was found to have eaten more than two dozen nails, along with her rabies tag and some pieces of vinyl. Why does this dog eat metal objects? Is there anything a basset hound won’t eat?
I had a similar experience with my own basset hound several years ago. Hobbs would eat anything he could get his teeth on… rocks, sticks, wood. You name it, he had it in his mouth and was chewing on it.
The basset hound puppy in Colorado was lucky; the vet removed the rusty nails and other metal (after doing a few X-rays to confirm their presence).
In 2009 another basset hound, this time in Florida, consumed at least 130 nails! The metal objects were removed from the dog’s stomach, and the hound survived with none of the objects puncturing an organ.
My own basset hound wasn’t so lucky. He gnawed on a huge hunk of wood that necessitated surgery to remove the object from his intestines; then the surgical site got infected and Hobbs had to be euthanized. I was devastated.
So these stories of dogs swallowing weird objects are odd and might seem trivial; but they’re a big deal, a serious health concern.
But back to the question: Why do basset hounds eat anything they can? (Including poop if they can get to it, and non-food items like rocks and nails.) What causes this odd behavior? And even more important, can you train your dog to stop eating weird stuff?
It’s Called Pica, and There’s No Real Cure
The term used to describe dogs that eat non-food items like rocks and metal or wood is pica.
Of course, bassets aren’t the only dogs affected by this. Pica is not an abnormality of the digestive system — it’s actually a psychological abnormality. So it’s not caused by a shortage of vitamins or nutrients in the diet. It’s a habit, more akin to a canine obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How to cure pica in dogs? There’s no real cure, unfortunately:
- Provide plenty of suitable chew toys (KONG dog toys are perfect).
- In serious cases, a dog muzzle may be necessary. Do not use a muzzle if your dog is by itself.
- Speak with your veterinarian for more ways to control this strange behavior.
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