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Pica in dogs

Your dog eats everything and anything? Whether paper, plastic, stones, grass, earth, etc …, this is probably what is called pica. But what caused this problem is, what are the risks for your dog and how to overcome them? Here’s all the advice of our veterinarians about pica.

Pica: what is it?

Pica is an abnormal eating behavior which involves the ingestion of nonnutritive substances that are logically and not to be eaten. We talk about when a dog ingests pica example: the earth, stones, fabric, plastic, paper, wood, etc. … When a dog ingests feces, this is also a particular form of pica is called coprophagia.

pica in dogs

The causes of pica

It is initially important to know that as they grow, all the puppies go, such as children, through a phase of development called the oral stage , during which they discover the world with their mouths. They then, during this period, the annoying habit of putting everything in their mouths and ingest inappropriate things: pieces of toys, wood, earth, pieces of paper/tissue, feces, etc. … Pica is therefore not formally abnormal in young dogs , and adequate education combined with patience can usually come to the end. Adult dogs, pica is not normal and should be taken with utmost seriousness, given the risks to your dog’s health that may be involved (see below).

Pica in adult dogs can have an original “purely behavioral.” Dogs can do so out of frustration, boredom, anxiety, or to attract the attention of the owners. Some dogs can also ingest their own feces or objects deteriorated to do away with the object of punishment possible (often in memory of past reprimands). Regarding coprophagy in particular, one current hypothesis is that dogs and would act by mimicry, having seen their masters collect their stool.

If your dog eats grass, this is also pica. Interpretations to eating grass are many and varied. It would be really a behavior instinctive, ancestral , allowing the dog to induce vomiting, and so relieve themselves of any pressure in the stomach. While some have reported that the eating of grass allowed the dog fill gaps, this hypothesis seems now obsolete, since even the dogs whose diet is perfectly balanced and complete exhibit this behavior.

NB: according to popular belief, “the dog that eats grass to bleed.” If this is often true in the sense “he is sick”, it is important not to believe that the dog acting as “worming themselves.” On the contrary, the grass may be ingested carrier many eggs and larvae of parasites, and is therefore likely to contaminate the dog, not the stomach to get rid of any.

Whether grass or other inedible substance, that a dog eats inappropriate things can be the result of some digestive discomfort, or many diseases . Among the causes to consider include: nutritional deficiencies, gastrointestinal parasitism, chronic gastritis, food intolerances, ingestion of hair by licking (although usually more problematic in cats), pancreatic insufficiency, etc. … Some diseases including bulimia (polyphagia) is one of the symptoms, may also encourage the dog to eat everything and anything. Diabetes and Cushing’s disease are part of these conditions generally making the dog bulimic.

Finally, the occurrence of pica is often found in older dogs may be a sign of senility . Pica is indeed one of the symptoms of “depression involution.”

Solve the pica

To overcome this behavior often unpleasant for the owner, and what is more dangerous for the dog’s health, you should consult your veterinarian to rule out any medical cause . The best way to handle a problem is indeed to treat the cause. After additional tests may be performed as it deems necessary (blood tests, stool analysis, ultrasound, endoscopy …), he can then prescribe a treatment if necessary, and tell you what to do if behavioral disorder.

In all cases, care must be taken regularly deworm your dog (every month until the age of 6 months and at least 2 to 4 times per year thereafter), and offer him a premium food, in order to avoid any deficiency. Using a dog food with sensitive stomachs (eg Hill’s Science Plan Sensitive Stomach) or food or medicalized hypoallergenic hyperdigestible (recommended by your veterinarian) may in some cases very specific things better. While waiting for your consultation and that the problem is managed properly, get your dog on a leash under close scrutiny will limit opportunities for pica and therefore the risks to the health of your pet.

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