Pica in Dogs

Pica is the eating of non-food items.

Pica is the ingestion of non-food items. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, obstruction of the stomach or intestines, puncture of the GI tract, or malnutrition if dogs eat more non-food items than they do their food.

Coprophagia (stool eating) is a type of pica. So is eating dirt, plastic bags, or any other non-food item.

What Causes Pica in Dogs?

Pica in dogs can be caused by:

Diagnosis of Pica in Dogs

When a dog is exhibiting pica, a veterinarian will take a complete history from you and do a thorough physical exam. If there are other signs of illness like weight loss, lab tests might be done to check for anemia, EPI, and portosystemic shunt.

X-rays may be done of the GI tract to look for obvious tumors or check for any indication of a foreign body obstruction.

If all medical conditions are ruled out, the dog's pica may be diagnosed as behavioral.

Treatment of Canine Pica

When a dog is exhibiting pica, any underlying medical condition that's diagnosed must be treated.

If a dog's pica is determined to have a behavioral cause, the following are some steps to take:

For more information on treating separation anxiety, check this article: "Separation Anxiety in Dogs."

Behavioral modification for dogs with pica can include redirecting their attention to a play session or something else when they move toward chewing the undesirable item. Give the dog praise for doing something other than engaging in pica.

Some dogs with pica require medications for anxiety. Check with your vet if you believe that might be the case for your dog. Never give any meds without checking with your vet first.

Dogs with behavioral pica may benefit from being evaluated and treated by a board-certified canine behavior specialist. Ask your regular vet for help finding one in your area.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?: Coprophagia in Dogs

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Liver Shunts in Dogs

X-Rays in Dogs: What Can They Tell Your Vet?

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