A bizarre trend that sees TikTokers pretending to eat their dog has alarmed animal welfare experts.
The trend, known as the ‘eat your dog challenge’, sees pet owners filming themselves pretending to chew their dog’s paws or ears to the sound of someone eating, often leaving the dog visibly distressed and confused.
Some of the hacked videos have racked up over 2 million likes and hundreds and thousands of views.
Clinical animal behaviorist Rachel Rodgers of Nose to Trail, who specializes in pet behavior, called the trend “very concerning”.
Some of the dogs in the TikTok videos show the whites of their eyes, called “whale eye”. Rachel says it’s an indicator of stress and suggests the dog is “very uncomfortable” with the situation.
She said: “These TikTok trends that normalize stressed body language of pets as ‘funny’ really worry me – if we normalize that body language as funny, I suspect we’ll have a further rise in biting in the months, years, decade to come as people ignore how dogs communicate with us and say “I’m uncomfortable! Stop Please”.
Rachel predicts that more dogs could show signs of aggressive behavior — like biting or snapping — due to TikTok trends like this. “Along with the negative effects that occur in the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if the dog then became reluctant to have its paws handled, making it difficult to trim the nails.”
Some dog owners may defend the trend by stating that their dog did not feel uncomfortable and would never bite back. However, Rachel says, “There are only a few things each dog can tolerate and these dogs are unnecessarily pressured into tolerating things that we wouldn’t expect a human to tolerate.
“From a welfare point of view, I fear for these dogs that this will lead to anxiety issues in the future.”
Rachel, who is a member of the Association of Pet Behavior Counselors (APBC), also explained why owners should avoid putting their dog’s paws and ears in their mouths due to human health risks. “Dogs don’t wear shoes that they literally and figuratively walk through, so I’m scared to think what these people are exposing themselves too by putting their dog’s paws in their mouths!”
Caroline Reay, head of veterinary services at national pet charity Blue Cross, added: “Basically putting a dog’s paw in a dog’s mouth is like licking the pavement.”
“We don’t know if he really puts his paw in his mouth, but he certainly makes the dog uncomfortable by pulling on his leg.”
Blue Cross has further expressed concern about TikTok trends involving dogs following the popularity of the “eat your dog” challenge.
Caroline added: “As an animal welfare charity, we are concerned about the increase in the number of people using their pets as accessories to boost their social media presence. is just one of many disturbing examples of which we have been informed.
“Pets are not playthings to be exploited, humiliated or objectified for our own entertainment and such pranks can cause distress and confusion to our pets and could even lead to illness or serious health issues. behviour.”
In other words, please stop pretending to eat your dog.