From socks to children's toys — 34% of dog owners say their furry friend will eat anything but food

·3-min read

From cat litter, leaves and even rocks, the average American dog owner will yell "What are you eating?!" to their pups nearly 50 times a year, according to new research.

The study asked 2,000 American dog owners to reflect on their dogs' nutritional habits - both good and bad - and found they've gotten into some sticky situations.

The top non-treats their pups have gotten into included socks (48%), garbage (47%) and children's toys (44%) - with one respondent even sharing their dog got ahold of their toilet plunger.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Zignature, the survey also found that the average pet owner has to remove something from their dog's mouth about three times a month.

This rings especially true for the third (34%) of respondents who have a dog that tries to eat anything but food.

In response, 39% have a pup that immediately drops their "treat" with a look of shame. 

Pet owners say they know their pet did something bad if the furry perps avoid eye contact (46%) or run off (45%).

Chasing after pups who try to gobble up any and everything isn't the only difficult part of being a pet parent, though.

Thirty-five percent of pup parents said their dog is the pickiest eater they know, nine in 10 are serious about feeding their dog a healthy diet and 85% only want the tastiest food for their pet.

The average pet parent says that it's hard to find dog food that would not only be nutritious but delicious for their pet. 

One in three dog owners won't feed their pet the same food again if they show them that they don't like it the first time.

Perhaps this is why half (52%) of pet owners think their dog eats better than they do.

"Dogs are like kids - they're not picky, they just have different preferences and different taste buds!" said Dr. Bradley Quest, DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine), on behalf of Zignature. "Smell and taste are very closely related, and dogs can taste foods through their sense of smell. That's why dogs are more interested in foods that smell stronger, for example, protein-packed foods that have red meat, poultry or fish protein sources. So, if something smells good to your pup, it's going to taste good to them too!"

Still, most pet owners (85%) can't imagine living without their animal companion in their home.

For eight in 10 (82%), having a pet is nostalgic as it reminds them of some of their fondest childhood memories and that's probably why a similar amount of parents think it's important to have a pet in their home while raising children.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of pet owners wanted to carry the tradition as they believe that getting their first dog as an adult was one of the most important milestones in their life; another three in 10 said that getting your first pet is a huge marker of becoming a "true adult."

Pet owners prefer to choose their pet's food based on vet recommendations (49%) or just from reading the labels (46%), and another 36% like to hear suggestions from friends or family.

"Knowing how to read pet food labels is very important. The first two ingredients on the list are vital, and dog food should feature real meat, poultry or fish as the first ingredient.

Dogs are carnivores and they have evolved to get dietary protein like their ancestors -- from rich animal, poultry or fish sources. These kinds of foods are not only nutritious but also great-tasting and highly palatable," added Dr. Quest. "If your dog's a picky eater, consider that they'll more or less eat anything that packed with proteins and smells like meat, poultry or fish."

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