You return home from a long day at the office, and much to your dismay (and perhaps bewilderment), your dog has eaten something strange again. Maybe it’s the couch cushions, or the TV remote, or your favorite handbag. Some dogs even dig into their feline counterparts’ litter boxes and eat feces. Yikes! What causes this bizarre behavior, and what can you do about it?
Eating non-food items is a condition called “pica”, and we see it in numerous animals – including humans, at times. While some items pass through the gastrointestinal tract just fine, others can cause serious problems, such as poisoning or a blockage.
A gastrointestinal blockage can result in symptoms such as…
- Straining to pass stool
- Loss of appetite
If you notice these symptoms, call us for an appointment right away!
But in the meantime, you’re probably wondering what causes pica, and how to stop it. In most cases, pica in dogs is caused by…
- A learned behavior from the past
- Stress or anxiety
- Fear of punishment, if your dog was housebroken by someone who punished them after finding eliminations in the house
When pica stems from one of the above behavioral reasons, it probably won’t go away quickly. With consistent effort, you might be able to gradually retrain your pet. We can help you with suggestions to accomplish this.
And occasionally, pica signals something else, such as a nutritional problem. If your dog is persistently eating – not just chewing, but eating – nonfood substances, then give us a call and we will help you pinpoint the potential causes for the behavior. Together we will create a strategy to eliminate the behavior.
And in the meantime, if you know your dog is prone to pica, keep all expensive items put away! Or make sure your dog is contained in a safe area when he is left unsupervised.