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Our beloved pups are known for being curious little creatures. They use their mouths to explore the world around them, which often means chewing things they shouldn’t. Some dogs will chew and eat anything in their path, and dogs’ favorite crowd seems to be our underwear.
While this may seem odd to you and me, eating panties is unfortunately common among many furry friends. If your dog keeps tearing up your underwear, this behavior is not only frustrating, but extremely dangerous to your dog’s health. Dogs who eat underwear are at risk for serious health complications from the digestive system, so it’s important to take dog eating underwear seriously.
So why is your dog eating your underwear, and how do you end this weird canine behavior? Let’s discuss everything you need to know below!
Why is my dog eating my underwear?
Many pet parents find that their dog is eating their underwear. Most of us know that dogs love to chew on objects in the world around them, but the behavior of dogs eating underwear gets a lot of attention. We want to help you better understand your dog eating underwear, so let’s break down potential causes of this behavior below!
they are teething
Just like human toddlers go through teething when their first set of teeth emerge from their gums, puppies go through the same process. Puppies usually go through two stages of teething before their first year of age, both of which can cause oral discomfort in affected puppies.
The first stage of teething in puppies occurs between 3-7 weeks of age, when their first set of young teeth emerge from the gums. The second stage of puppy teething occurs between 4-7 months, when puppies lose their young teeth and the permanent (baby) teeth grow in.
During this time, you may notice that your puppy is chewing on everything they can get their hands on. If your puppy gets paws on your underwear during this time, they may chew or even eat them due to oral discomfort. Chewing objects can help teething puppies relieve gum pain, which is why it’s so important to provide them with proper teething outlets during this time. Thanks to our growing canine friends, there are many toys on the market specifically designed for the teething stage.
they like things that smell like you
Members of our canine family have a deep-rooted need to track their familiar scents, and that includes their owners’ scents. Everything we use on a daily basis carries our own unique scent, and that includes, you guessed it, our underwear. If your underwear is placed in an area that your dog can easily access, they may be inclined to track down your underwear and chew on them when they find them. Some dogs not only bite their owners’ underwear, some even eat them.
they are bored and seek entertainment
Bored canine companions can easily get themselves into trouble. Whether dogs don’t get enough daily exercise or don’t have access to stimulating toys, boredom can lead to poor behavior. A bored dog might chew on furniture, get into trash cans, tear up toys, and other behaviors we’re less likely to approve of. If they have access to your laundry basket or you left your underwear on the floor, they might even try to ease their boredom by chewing on your underwear.
they want your attention
We are the most important part of a dog’s life, so they usually want as much attention from us as possible. If your pup can’t get the attention they crave, they may seek your presence in other ways. Many dogs will sniff out your scent and try to get close to you in some way, which may include hunting for clothes. If your dog stumbles upon your panties during their search, they may start chewing and even eating them.
They have a thing called pica
If your dog always seems to be chewing or eating something outside of their standard diet, they may be experiencing a complication called pica. Pica in dogs is a condition that causes dogs to compulsively eat strange items, many of which are even inedible. Pica itself is not a diagnosis, but it is actually a symptom of other underlying health conditions. Pica is usually the result of some form of indigestion or any medical condition that causes an upset stomach.
Since pica often points to an underlying disease in the dog, we always recommend contacting your veterinarian if your dog seems to be compulsively eating strange foods. Dogs with pica will usually eat anything they can find on the ground, so it is usually obvious that there is a problem.
The dangers of dogs eating underwear
Having a dog who constantly eats your underwear is not only inconvenient, but it can also be a dangerous habit for dogs. A dog’s body cannot break down and digest non-food items, and this includes our underwear. Whether your dog tears up your underwear or eats them whole, fabric material can easily get lodged in their stomach or intestines.
Since the body cannot break down the fabric, it is nearly impossible for the body to move underwear through the digestive system. This can cause a life-threatening gastrointestinal blockage that prevents food or other digested material from moving throughout the digestive system. Once a blockage occurs, most dogs will require emergency surgery to clear the blockage and save their life.
As you can see, a dog’s habit of eating underwear is more than just an inconvenience. Eating underwear can cause life-threatening complications in dogs, so we should do everything possible to stamp out this behavior from the moment it develops.
My dog ate my underwear – what should I do?
If your dog just ate a pair of underwear, you may be wondering what to do next. If you have just discovered that your dog has committed an underwear-related crime, then we always recommend that you contact your veterinarian immediately. Seeking veterinary care within an hour of consuming the panties may allow your veterinarian to induce vomiting, which can help your pup safely spit out the panties. This will remove the threat of intestinal blockage, which will allow your veterinarian to watch for any signs of choking or discomfort throughout the procedure. Letting your dog vomit at home is very dangerous because the underwear can pose a choking hazard as it travels from the stomach to the esophagus.
Even if you find your dog eating your underwear hours after the incident, we still recommend contacting your veterinarian for guidance. Some veterinarians will still recommend that you come into their office to have them evaluated, as there may be ways to reduce their risk of clogging. For example, as a veterinary technician who works in emergency medicine, we will often try to rehydrate a dog that has ingested any foreign object. This may include IV fluids or subcutaneous fluids, as this will help moisten their bowels and help the digestive tract pass material. Overall, we always recommend calling your veterinarian if you think your dog has eaten your underwear.
We should also mention that many pet parents won’t call their veterinarian due to the embarrassment of dogs eating their underwear, but we want to make sure you know how common this is. Dogs have always eaten an array of embarrassing items found around their home, so your veterinary team will never be shocked by something your dog spits up. Your veterinary team has seen it all and they just want to be there for you and your pup!
How to stop my dog from eating my underwear
Now that you know the reasons why your dog might be eating your underwear, it’s time to discuss the most effective ways to end the behavior. Let us list our favorite tips below!
- Put your underwear or socks in a laundry basket or room where your dog can’t get in. No matter how many toys or exercise you give your puppy, some dogs will always eat the wrong things. Removing access to these items is the best solution.
- If your dog is teething, Make sure they have plenty of suitable teething toys to ease their pain.
- Even if your dog doesn’t have teeth, you’ll want Make sure your dog has enough toys to chew on。 Our puppies love to chew, so give them the right options and they’ll be less inclined to eat your underwear.
- If you catch your dog eating your underwear, Make sure to offer them an acceptable alternative in that moment。 By immediately removing their underwear and giving them a chew toy, you are showing them that this is an item they are allowed to chew on.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation every day. A bored dog is more likely to get into things they shouldn’t be doing, so expending any pent-up energy is the best way to prevent bad behavior. This varies by breed, but most dogs need at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day.
- Be sure to contact your veterinarian if your dog seems to be chewing or eating strange items compulsively. This could indicate an underlying medical condition, so you always want to rule out any health complications before proceeding with training.
It may seem like a strange behavior to you and me, but many of our canine friends around the world have eaten a pair of their owner’s underwear. Not only is this an unwelcome activity for our dogs, but it can put them at risk for life-threatening bowel obstructions. Underwear can easily get stuck in their digestive tract, which often requires emergency surgery to fix.
Overall, a dog’s underwear eating habits can be frustrating. We recommend looking at the reasons your dog might be eating underwear we discussed above, and implementing some of the techniques we suggest to put an end to this behavior. If you can’t stop your dog from eating underwear for fun, you can always contact your veterinarian for guidance.
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Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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