Most dogs have a fascination with socks and underwear. It can be pretty frustrating to discover your puppy rummaging through your laundry and chewing up socks given the levels of chaos these little jesters can cause.
Playing with your dirty laundry is not the main issue. Eating socks is. Fragments of these non food items end up in your dog’s intestines, requiring surgery to remove them.
So, it’s important to understand why do dogs eat socks and how to stop your dog from eating them.
Why Do Dogs Eat Non Food Items Like Socks
Dogs love eating socks — and that’s the simple truth. These little clowns enjoy chewing our dirty socks or underwear for bizarre reasons: foot odor and sweat. This explains why they raid our dirty laundry basket for these smelly underwear.
But that’s not the only reason dogs love to eat things with the owner’s scent:
Teething is an itchy experience for puppies. They tend to eat non food items to relieve symptoms of teething.
If the recent chewing habit of your young dog is due to teeth development, then it’s best to get your pet suitable chew toys.
Dogs seek attention. They have several ways of getting dog owners’ attention, including stealing and chewing socks, shoes, and other non food items. This scheming act is a go-to for puppies looking for mental stimulation and some attention from their dog owners.
While this sock-stealing behavior is a common act for all dogs, certain dog breeds, like German shepherds, are more prone to this habit.
This behavior is also exhibited when they are nervous. So, the best way to stop your dog from eating pieces of stuff with your scent is to figure out the root cause of the nervousness. Simply keeping your shoes or socks out of their reach only forces them to start chewing on high value items in your home, like furniture.
If your pet struggles with “Pica” — a disorder associated with chewing non-nutritional items, his chewing habit extends to papers, wood, and plastic. Dogs with this disorder tend to chew on lots of stuff and not necessarily socks or clothes with your smell.
Aside from Pica, other health issues like thyroid problems, nutritional deficiency, and diabetes can be responsible for sock eating behavior.
If your pet chew paper, rocks, and stuff with your scent, visit a vet immediately. Your vet will diagnose your pet, determine the root cause and provide the best treatment course.
Teething older pets
Older dogs may exhibit teething behavior like puppies to strengthen and alleviate dental discomfort.
Take your older pet to the vet to determine if your dog’s sock eating act is because of dental work.
However, getting your dog chew toys will stop him from eating dirty socks and teething on other things if it’s not dental trouble.
Chasing your scent
Dogs eat socks, especially dirty ones because they focus on your scent. Like most animals, they trace scent, which usually leads them to your smelly socks.
To humans, dirty underwear and socks smell disgusting, but not to dogs. They contain our pheromones that attract and excite puppies.
So, they are more likely to go after your socks and underwear with your smell because they are so much in love with you. This explains why your dog develop resource guarding and growl whenever one of your family members or other dogs tries to take the “high value” sock away from him.
Health Complications of Dog Eating Socks
Dog chew socks or your smelly laundry clothes for different reasons, but we can all agree it’s gross. Also, it’s costly since you’ve to replace the ripped socks and underwear.
While it may seem harmless for puppies to eat socks, small pieces can make it into your dog’s intestines causing serious health complications requiring professional help.
If you suspect your dog ate pieces of your socks, consult your vet immediately. Please don’t wait for your pet to excrete them. Puppies don’t, and only a few larger dog breeds do.
Your pet health practitioner will examine your dog, including X ray, to determine where the blockage is for successful surgical removal.
How to Stop Dogs From Eating Underwear and Socks
Dogs with obsessive chewing behavior are likelier to take their socks and underwear from the laundry basket and eat them.
As a pet owner, how you address the situation will reinforce or discourage this destructive act. Making a fuss when you catch your puppy in a gross act is counterproductive and only encourages your pet to repeat the behavior.
However, there are other effective ways to discourage your puppy from ripping your underwear and socks:
Offer a better alternative: Dogs love to play with their toys and your clothing items with your smell. So, to discourage them from eating things of high value to you, it’s important to get your dog attached to their toy by playing catch with him. You can also introduce your pets to a food-dispensing play toy with their favorite treat.
Keep your sock and underwear hidden: leaving your underwear, socks, and other clothing items lying on the floor, makes it easier for your furry friend to see and be tempted because your dog sees those items with your smell as valuable.
See your vet: if your dog eats socks, underwear, and other non food items, health issues might be the underlying causes of this behavior. Take your dog to a vet to address the root cause of dog sock-chewing habit. Your vet will suggest the best treatment course.
How can I prevent my dog from eating socks?
Preventing your dog from eating socks involves a combination of management and training. Dog owners can use baby gates to restrict dog access to certain areas. Also, engage them in physical exercise and ensure they get enough mental stimulation. More importantly, obedience training shouldn’t be overlooked, as it makes it easier to instruct your dog to leave or drop your socks or other inappropriate items.
My dogs prefer to eat socks than play with his toy; what can I do?
Your dog may ignore his toy and prefer your socks with your smell because it gets your attention, which your dog sees as a form of play. Instead, offer him more engaging and interactive toys or puzzles. These toys can provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied for longer periods.
Also, introduce scent-based toys or one that dispenses their favorite treat, as these can pique your dog’s interest and provide a positive chewing experience.
My dog ate socks. Should I be worried?
Dog eat socks because they love your smell as well as a form of play. Another reason your dog ate your socks might be due to nutritional deficiencies in their diet. They might be seeking additional nutrients or minerals present in the fabric of the socks.
Why Do Dogs Eat Socks: Key Takeaway
Pets eat things, many of which they shouldn’t. But these clowns are particularly interested in your clothing with your smell because it gets them excited and feels closer to you.
So, many dogs hide and guard your socks and other non-food items with the owner’s smell. This behavior is normal and harmless until they chew and ingest your socks, leading to serious health complications.
Your dog may chew your socks for many reasons, from separation anxiety to pica disorder. As such, taking the dog with socks-chewing behavior to your vet is best to avoid life-threatening consequences.