Can pica in dogs be cured?

If a medical issue is to blame, treating it should eliminate the pica behaviors. Medical reasons for pica in dogs are the easiest to treat. For example, if a nutritional deficiency is to blame, dietary supplements, comprehensive dietary change, or a fix in the feeding schedule can correct the problem.

Dogs don’t always have the most discriminating palates when it comes to food. The majority of dogs will happily eat anything that even remotely looks edible.

However, a dog’s eating habits can occasionally become a sign of a health or behavioral issue. Your dog may be consuming poop, grass, paper, wood, or even other animals. If so, your dog may suffer from a condition called pica.

The health condition known as pica in dogs is characterized by the compulsive ingestion of objects other than food, such as cloth, plastic, wood, paper, or even rocks. PICA dogs may become fixated on consuming a specific type of non-food item or they may eat anything they can get their paws on.

The underlying cause of ica could be medical, behavioral, or psychological, according to Dr. Karyn Collier, MD, is the Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey’s medical director for wellness medicine.

In adult and adolescent dogs, pica is frequently present in dogs. Puppies frequently eat things that aren’t food, but this is typically just normal puppy behavior. Puppies explore the world with their mouths, just like newborn humans do. Many puppies chew and swallow objects they shouldn’t while they are experimenting and learning what is and isn’t food. Most puppies grow out of this phase.

When dogs chew and consume non-food items, a condition known as pica disorder in dogs can be very frustrating for pet owners. But pica is more than an annoyance. Chewing and ingesting non-food items can be very harmful to a dog.

PICA can cause dogs to swallow toxic substances, or gastrointestinal blockages or perforations can result from materials they have swallowed. A veterinarian may need to perform surgery to locate and remove objects that have become lodged in the stomach or intestinal tract and are preventing the animal from passing them. Perforation cases, in which the stomach or intestines are pierced by a sharp object, can be particularly dangerous and necessitate immediate surgery.

If you are present when your dog consumes non-food items, you may be able to quickly identify the signs of pica. But occasionally, the dog might be sneakily consuming things other than food.

An animal owner may observe that their dog is acting unwell and exhibiting symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, but they might not be aware that the animal is also ingesting foreign objects.

Behavioral pica is sometimes called stress eating. According to Collier, “stress, boredom, and anxiety (particularly separation anxiety) may lead a dog to be destructive and ingest things like bedding, clothing, or trash,”

Collier continues, “In some medical circumstances, nutritional imbalances, endocrine disorders (like diabetes or thyroid disease), or disorders of malabsorption or maldigestion can result in pica.” Anemia, gastrointestinal parasites, and liver disease are additional conditions that can result in pica.

Pica can occasionally be a side effect of a drug that a dog is taking for a different medical condition, such as steroids.

If you or your vet suspect your dog is displaying pica symptoms, the doctor will first conduct a thorough physical examination to assess the dog’s overall health and search for disease symptoms. Additionally, your vet will take a thorough medical history and inquire in-depth about your dog’s eating habits, including the type of food you feed him, how frequently he eats, and how much.

The veterinarian will also inquire about the dog’s general lifestyle and living conditions, including the number of people and animals that reside in the home, the amount of time your dog spends alone each day, the amount and type of exercise your dog receives, as well as other inquiries that may help the doctor determine the precise cause of the pica.

The vet may suggest additional tests, such as blood work and a urinalysis, if they believe there is a medical reason for the pica. The veterinarian may also advise diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays or an ultrasound, and possibly surgery if there is any concern that the dog may have ingested something that is not passing through the digestive system.

Collier states that the first priority is to identify and treat the underlying disease process. “If we eliminate the underlying cause, the pica should improve. ”.

If a medical condition is what’s causing the pica, treating that particular health issue might be all that’s required to stop the inappropriate eating.

However, occasionally the pica might turn into a sort of bad habit, especially if the dog has been consuming non-food items for a while. If that’s the case, even after treating the underlying medical condition, the dog’s owner may still need to be vigilant about keeping items the dog enjoys eating out of reach.

If a nutritional deficiency is the cause of the pica, your veterinarian may advise switching to a different food brand, amount, feeding schedule, nutritional supplements, or a combination of these changes.

Behavioral pica can be challenging to treat. Training, behavioral reconditioning, environmental enrichment, stress reduction techniques, and preventing the dog from having access to desirable items are frequently used to treat pica.

Owners should train and exercise their dogs if they have separation anxiety, advises Collier. Making sure that energetic dogs have appropriate outlets for their energy is crucial as well. The second step is to remove or restrict the pet’s access to any foods we do not want them to eat. ”.

Make sure that dogs who experience pica due to stress engage in daily vigorous exercise such as walking, jogging, or off-leash play. Provide your dog with a wide variety of fun toys to play with and appropriate chew items. Rotate them frequently (return some toys after being put away for a while to pique your dog’s interest).

Look for any potential anxiety triggers in your dog’s environment, such as children who are not acting responsibly around the dog, other pets in the house who may be under stress, spending too much time alone, or other things that may be upsetting the dog.

You can create a treatment plan for the pica with the assistance of your veterinarian. In cases where the dog’s behavior is mild, you may be able to work with your veterinarian and perhaps a dog trainer to identify and get rid of the dog’s stress triggers as well as teach the dog to ignore things that aren’t food.

Additionally, you can request a recommendation for a veterinary behaviorist who can address both behavioral and medical issues and who may even prescribe an anti-anxiety drug if they believe it would benefit the dog.

Cost to Treat Pica in Dogs

Depending on what is causing the pica in the dog, the cost of treatment will vary. Treatment for underlying health conditions varies widely.

The cost of treating and training behaviorally challenged dogs can run into the hundreds of dollars.

Any dog who develops an intestinal obstruction or other health issues after consuming non-food items may need hospitalization and surgery, which can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Making sure your dog receives adequate amounts of physical exercise and mental stimulation, seeing to it that his nutritional requirements are met, and minimizing any environmental stressors are some ways to prevent the onset of pica in dogs.

However, the best way to prevent your dog from consuming non-food items is to always store away or otherwise restrict access to the items your dog wants to eat. Keep your dog on a leash outside if he is nibbling on grass, rocks, or wood to avoid issues.

Baby gates and crates can be used to keep your dog away from foods he shouldn’t be eating.

In most cases, pica is a compulsive behavior problem. Pica can cause serious problems to your pet’s health. Take your pet to the vet if he or she is consuming non-food items. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that compulsive behavior does not simply disappear on its own. The vet will determine whether your pet is acting out or whether there are any underlying medical issues.

Follow-up visits will be necessary for your pet. Post-operative visits are necessary to monitor the incision and the removal of sutures in the event of intestinal obstruction. To monitor your pet’s development and response to the treatment plan, follow-up visits will be necessary if an underlying disease was identified.

You should consider going over training repeatedly to try and change Sierra’s behavior. I’ve included two training guides below for you to look through; the first is more helpful, so you should have a look through it and try the principles. It can be difficult to tell whether Sierra is simply acting out of habit or if she’s trying to make up for a nutritional deficiency or something else. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking. com/training/not-eat-everything https://wagwalking. com/training/not-eat-garbage.

My American Stafforshire Terrier mix, who will turn two in early July and I’ve had for over a year and a half, appears to have many PICA symptoms. She doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite for her regular dry food (we’ve tried switching it up, but she won’t eat any brand/flavor, and she eats wet food without complaining), but she does seem to have an appetite for rocks, sticks, coins, the metal portion of her leash, dust, and bugs inside the house. Within two weeks of my family getting her, she required an endoscopy to remove three coins from her stomach. She may have an iron deficiency, which makes sense, according to numerous veterinarians and pet store owners and employees, but the supplement we tried for a month didn’t seem to help. Additionally, we’ve been told that she might be bored. Because she will chew on toys long enough to break them and then continue to eat the filling or pieces, we are hesitant to give her any toys, even those that are advertised as being unbreakable. She works out frequently and spends the majority of her days outside. She will eat anything on the floor, so my family and I confine her to a small, gated area of our home when she is inside. Although she has never hurt anyone, she also has a habit of growling at people who try to stop her from performing any of these actions. Anything you may suggest is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading this.

You may observe your pet eating non-food objects. Be aware that non-food items can seriously harm your pet’s health depending on what is consumed. Ingested foreign objects can result in intestinal blockages, gastrointestinal irritation, and internal ulcerations. Your pet may exhibit one or more of the following signs after consuming something that is not food:

Diagnosing pica by visiting a veterinarian

A thorough medical examination is advised if you suspect your pet has pica. Besides a thorough physical examination, this should also include blood work to check for diseases like anemia, liver disease, diabetes, or pancreatic disease and a fecal examination to check for gastrointestinal (GI) parasites. Additional testing may be necessary to determine whether the GI tract is possibly not absorbing nutrients based on the symptoms your animal is exhibiting. In most cases, this entails determining the levels of folate and cobalamin as well as performing a TLI (trypsin-like immunoreactivity) test to determine the pancreatic function.

If there is concern about a GI obstruction and to rule out any other potential causes of pica, x-rays may also be necessary. Of course, additional testing may be required if abnormalities are found. A textbook chapter could be devoted to describing all the diagnostic possibilities. The best course of action is to treat any abnormalities found, then monitor the condition of the pica.

It can be challenging to determine what causes pica in a particular animal. Although it can be frustrating to not have an answer that enables a specific course of treatment, if a medical cause is found, it is typically either expensive to treat or has a poor prognosis.


How do you fix a dog’s pica?

Treatment and Prevention of Pica
  1. Make sure your pet is receiving enough mental and physical stimulation.
  2. If you spend a lot of time away from home, think about using environmental enrichment techniques like food puzzles, games, and a dog walker to prevent boredom.
  3. Eliminate access to objects that your dog may eat.

Why do dogs develop pica?

A condition called pica may cause your dog to consume objects other than food, like rocks or cloth. A medical condition, such as inadequate nutrient intake, may be the cause of the condition. An additional behavioral problem, such as anxiety or boredom, can contribute to pica.

What happens if your dog has pica?

Dogs with pica have cravings for and eat non-food items. While some dogs might only eat one kind of object, others will consume a wide range of items. Because what a dog swallows could be toxic, interfere with normal digestion, or become lodged in their intestinal tract, pica puts their health in danger.

How do I get my dog to stop eating everything he sees?

How To Stop A Dog From Eating Everything
  1. Teach your dog a good “leave it” command that always works.
  2. Reward your dog for paying attention. …
  3. Walk in areas with fewer temptations. …
  4. Make eating an adventure for the mind. …
  5. Do some nose work with your dog.