A Great Dane that eats everything is very strange including eating non-edible items such as soil, plants, or plastics.
Great Danes can sometimes have strange behaviors, and by understanding why they happen, you can distinguish between normal dog behavior from behavior that requires medical attention.
Question is, why does a Great Dane eat everything? Should you worry about it?
Let’s look at what causes a Great Dane to eat everything, what to do about it and when to seek help.
Why Does My Great Dane Eat Everything?
The common reasons why a Great Dane eats everything include pica, illness, stress, insufficient food intake, poor diet, and boredom. Great Danes have healthy appetites however, if you notice changes in their eating habits seek veterinary care.
Common Reasons Why a Great Dane Eats Everything
The most common reasons why a Great Dane may eat everything in sight include:
Pica refers to when a Great Dane eats non-edible or non-digestible items with no nutritional value, such as rubber, plastics, fabrics, sticks, plants, toys, soil, or paper.
It is an obsessive urge to eat these things. One cause of this is t nutrition deficiencies a Great Dane might have which makes them seek and eat other non-food items.
Illness can also cause a Great Dane to turn to eat everything. Parasitic infections and medical problems that cause malabsorption which is an inability to digest or absorb nutrients from food, cause hunger and nutrient deficiencies in a Great Dane.
Due to this, a Great Dane will still be hungry and malnourished despite being fed and will turn to other sources to satisfy the hunger and nutrition.
Anemia which is a condition characterized by a low blood cell count can also lead a Great Dane to instinctively eat dirt, in order to restore the nutrient deficiencies that result in the condition.
Some illnesses may also cause a Great Dane to be more hungry than usual and force them to eat anything. These conditions include thyroid imbalance which increases a dog’s appetite.
An overweight Great Dane on a low calorie diet prescribed by a veterinarian will also be more hungry and will have the urge to eat something extra even if it is not food.
See also: Is my Great Dane overweight?
Some medications also increase the appetite and if your Great Dane is under treatment for a preexisting ailment, this can be the reason why they eat everything.
Stress or anxiety can lead to compulsive obsessive behaviors in a Great Dane, which include digging, chewing, and eating everything. This acts as a stress-coping method.
Stress can come from different triggers including moving to a new home, being confined in a crate, a change of routine, introduction of a new pet, or loud noise.
A Great Dane on a low-quality diet without sufficient nutrients or minerals will have a compelling urge to eat other things, in an attempt for their body to get the nutrients.
They may instinctively turn to eating dirt to obtain iron, sodium, and calcium minerals.
Poor nutrition can also lead to other effects such as stunted growth, dull coat, excessive shedding, frequent infections, skin disorders, allergies, and bone and joint disorders.
Proper nutrition is important for the healthy growth of a Great Dane and their diet should be evaluated and approved by a veterinarian to ensure that they are receiving the nutrients that they need.
Insufficient food intake
An underfed Great Dane will still be hungry and therefore they will look for other means to satisfy their hunger. This can lead to the eating of dirt.
Great Danes are large dogs with a big appetite and require adequate food quantities to satisfy them.
Specific food quantities should be provided at different life stages to ensure proper growth, and health and also to have them well fed or satisfied.
A bored Great Dane with nothing else to do will find activities to entertain themselves and pass time. This includes chewing and eating everything.
Great Danes are moderate energy dogs and do not require very active activities to keep them healthy and engaged. However, they get bored when they are not mentally or physically engaged.
Therefore if your Great Dane loves to eat everything, it might just be that they are simply bored.
The Dangers of Great Danes Eating Everything
Dogs in general are natural chewers and have a scavenging instinct by exploring everything with their mouth and nose. However, eating anything they come across has its own dangers.
The complications of a Great Dane eating everything include the development of a stomach upset due to ingested foreign material that may irritate the stomach. This also leads to vomiting and/or diarrhea.
If they also eat rocks or a lot of dirt, this might cause intestinal obstruction which is a life-threatening emergency medical condition that requires surgery.
Eating dirt also presents the danger of ingestion of parasites. Dirt may harbor parasites such as hookworm or roundworms which are intestinal parasites that can infect a Great Dane, causing illness.
Also as swallowed rocks and dirt pass through the digestive tract, they might damage the gastrointestinal tract by causing abrasions and inflammation to the lining of the tract.
Chewing and eating rocks may also damage a Great Dane’s teeth, causing dental problems.
A Great Dane that eats everything might also ingest poisonous substances such as plants, frogs, snakes, pesticides, or household products.
When Should I See the Veterinarian?
A Great Dane that eats everything is a common behavior driven by different factors. If the behavior happens once in a while, there is nothing to worry about because it is natural for all dogs to explore with their mouth.
However, if the behavior is frequent, sudden onset of eating foreign things in large quantities and also if there is the presence of other symptoms, seek medical attention.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Eating everything frequently or suddenly
- Pale gums indicating anemia
- Difficulty in pooping
- Irregular bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting several times in a 24-hour period, especially after drinking or eating
How to Stop Your Great Dane from Eating Everything
Here are some tips to keep your Great Dane from eating everything and help protect them from the dangers associated with the behavior.
Proper diet and food quantities
Nutrition plays a huge role in a Great Dane’s health and wellbeing. Therefore if your Great Dane eats everything due to nutrient imbalance or deficiencies in their diet, the solution is to get them on a proper diet.
With the guidance of your veterinarian, select good quality food for giant/large breed dogs for your Great Dane and also feed them the right quantities so that they are satisfied and not hungry after feeding.
Read here more on how much a Great Dane eats at different ages and why a Great Dane may always be hungry even after being fed well.
Provide plenty of activities
To reduce anxiety and boredom, engage your Great Dane in physical activities and mental stimulation. This will redirect your dog’s energy and focus to beneficial tasks.
Also, spend time with your dog, in regular play which also helps to curb undesirable habits such as eating everything for entertainment. This also solidifies the bond with your dog.
Identify stress triggers for your dog and address them by implementing the appropriate action.
Supervise your Great Dane when on walks and also around your home to keep an eye on their activities and what they may be up to.
By keeping watch, you will be able to see when your dog tries to eat something they should not which gives you an opportunity to stop them and correct the behavior.
Finally, training your dog from displaying the habit can also help curb the behavior. You can use distraction and command words to train your Great Dane when they start eating something they should not.
Use command words as a distraction or loud noise to stop them from engaging in the behavior when tempted.
Also continuously use positive reinforcement by praising them or providing treats to reward good behavior which helps to reinforce the desired behavior.
Seek professional assistance from a dog trainer when you need help in training your dog.
Dogs are natural scavengers and will naturally explore their environment through licking, chewing, and swallowing things that seem interesting because of smell and taste.
Therefore it is not uncommon for a Great Dane to eat everything however the behavior should be evaluated on the cause because it can also be due to a medical problem.
A Great Dane eating everything should also be discouraged because it presents dangers to your dog which can lead to other complications such as poisoning and obstruction of the intestines among other risks.
By communicating with your veterinarian, you can pinpoint the underlying cause and implement the solutions discussed in order to curb the behavior and also receive treatment for your dog if a medical problem is an underlying cause.