You have caught your dog going near to a barbecue pit that you have used to grill your food and find him eating the ashes from the pit.
This makes you wonder if he does it out of hunger or if there is more to that weird behavior?
Your dog is eating ashes because he is suffering from compulsive eating disorder (Pica) or his diet is lacking in the nutrients that his body needs. Enticing scent of the ashes (after the food grilling) attracts him. He is trying to help you with the cleanup by eating up the ashes.
Pica Is Causing His Eating Disorder
Pica is a term for a disorder that causes your dog to crave and eat non-food substances such as plastic, rubber, cardboard, car parts, gravel, chalk, clay, tissue, crayons as well as ashes or other inedible items.
He is, in fact, not feeling hungry but craves for non edible objects which look enticing to him.
This eating disorder can pose a potential health risk to your dog as the substance he has ingested may cause blockage of his gastrointestinal tract and can even lead to death if he eats something toxic.
In most cases, your dog may attempt to vomit the substance, but if he is having diarrhea, you should immediately take him to see a vet for a checkup and treatment.
What Causes Pica in a Dog?
Of course, you may be wondering what makes my dog suffer from this disorder?
There are various factors that can cause pica in dogs.
Some of the most common causes are gastrointestinal or liver diseases, anemia, diabetes, poor diet, side effects of medication, pancreatic and neurological disease as well as behavioral disorders such as living in a depraved home where food is scarce.
To address this disorder, you will need to identify what the triggering factors are and work on eliminating those causes.
Seeking help from a vet would be the best choice as your dog might need to go through a series of tests before the right treatment can be administered.
Inadequate Nutrition In His Diet Makes Him Eat Ashes
Your dog could be craving certain minerals or vitamins that he is not getting from his food, and he is trying to get them elsewhere.
You may find him eating grass, poop, mud and ashes as he tries to get the missing nutrients that he needs.
This is especially so if you have been feeding your dog with commercial dry kibble which lacks the vitamins and minerals that your dog’s body requires.
You should consider switching over to natural diets which consist of lean meats such as chicken, fish and beef and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to his diet.
Just like humans, your dog will need a certain level of nutrients in his diet to stay healthy and strong.
This nutrient requirement will vary as he grows from puppy to adolescent and finally to a senior dog.
At each stage of his life cycle, you will need to make adjustments to his diet regime in order to keep him fit and healthy.
Factors that you need to take into consideration include his breed, age, size and activity level.
If your dog belongs to hunting breeds such as American Pit Bull Terrier, Beagle, Bloodhound, Coonhound and English Setter, he will need a higher calorie intake than other breeds of dogs.
A high-calorie diet can help to sustain his energy expenditure as he is going to be very active and energetic due to his hunting instinct.
So when you are planning for your dog’s diet, it is important to keep in mind the above-mentioned conditions.
A balanced diet for your dog should include protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to stay healthy.
As for the feeding frequency, your dog should be fed ideally three times daily or at least twice a day.
If you have been giving treats to your dog regularly throughout the day, then feeding him twice a day should be sufficient.
“Enticing” Scent From The Ashes Attracts Him
Your dog is able to smell the scent of your barbecue foods from the ashes and that attracts his attention.
You see, the ashes on your grill pit is like a concentrated form of food and contains the aroma of all the “goodies” that you cooked on the grill.
This triggers him to seek out the smell and to get a taste of it.
You may find it unbelievable that your dog is able to smell anything from the ashes, but that is what makes dogs so special.
His strong sense of smell is second to none when compared to humans, which is why dogs are deployed in the police force sniffing out drugs, explosives and contraband.
Some breeds, like Labrador, German Shepherds and Beagle, are known for their exceptional sense of smell.
To prevent your dog from getting access to the ashes, you ought to perform a cleanup right away after the grilling party.
Do not give your dog any opportunity to get his mouth on the ashes and turn this act into a habit.
You can also make use of some dog repellent spray such as bitter apple spray on the grill pit and that should deter your dog from approaching it.
He Is Helping You Clean Up The Ashes In The Pit
Your dog sees you clearing up the ashes in the grill pit, and he wants to help you with this task.
The easiest way for him to do it would be to eat the ashes.
This is certainly a dangerous act for your dog that you have to STOP and correct him immediately.
Ashes from burning charcoal contain different chemical substances such as sulfur oxides, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, petroleum and sodium nitrate that can cause internal organ damage and even death if your dog eats them in large quantities.
You will have to make your dog associate eating ashes with a BAD experience and the way to do this will be to give him a firm and stern “No” or “Stop It” and to show your unhappiness expression to him.
You see, your dog is an intelligent pet, and he is aware of how you react towards him.
If you show your unhappiness to your dog when he is doing something bad or undesirable, he will understand that his actions are not appreciated and will not do it again.
And if he happens to exhibit signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation and difficulty in breathing after ingesting ashes, bring him to see a vet immediately.
It could be a sign of poisoning!
Curious About Ashes That “Moves” When Wind Blows
Your dog is staring at the ashes flying in the air when a strong wind is blowing at the grilling pit.
He is amazed at how ashes can easily fly up in the air and wants to find out more.
He will make his way to the pit, sniff the ashes and give them a lick to do his investigation.
He Is Eating Ashes To Keep Himself Occupied
When your dog is feeling bored, he will do things that you will never think of, such as digging your trash, eating bees, ashes, mud or his poop, and even destroying your stuff.
That is why you should always make sure that your dog is kept busy with doing things that interest him.
This will ensure that he does not feel bored and prevent him from finding ways to entertain himself.
You can give him a KONG toy, squeeze ball, or a puzzle game for him to play with.
Teaching him some new tricks and taking him out for a walk and letting him play in the dog park with other dogs are great ways to ease his boredom.