What is pica in dogs? Eating non-food items is coined as pica. Although you may see it as a sign that his diet is lacking some nutrient; however when it occurs is puppies and young dogs the most common cause is actually boredom. Consuming non-food items occasionally may turn into a compulsive behavior, which may be a dangerous habit. The most common form of pica is your pet eating rocks, but he can also eat other things like containers, human clothing, wood or other wooden objects and plastic materials.
It is normal for puppies to chow down on all types of objects, non-food items included. Though, experts are not sure on why they indulge in this, most puppies do this in order to investigate their surroundings. And most puppies will just outgrow this behavior when they reach 6 months of age and along with a reprimand from their owner.
It is already considered as a compulsive behavior if he still continues to do so even when he is already a full grown adult. Compulsive behavior won’t go away if you leave it untreated, you must help her with a special training. Ask your vet about it for more info.
On the other hand, it is common to see dogs eat grass. Some dogs would graze when they don’t feel good and would want to vomit, while others do this to improve their digestion. They also indulge in it because it helps in getting rid of worms or can treat stomach ailments. As long as your pet only eats soil and grass occasionally, then this type of pica won’t have any issue.
Pica in Dogs
Resolving the Problem
If you notice that your pet has pica issues, giving him lots of appropriate things and toys for him to play with as well as a chance to play with you might help in resolving this issue and prevent the development of compulsive behavior. Just bear in mind that if you give him things to chew on, be sure that it is a chew toy designed for him so that he won’t bite off chunks of it and choke in the long run. If you suspect that his pica is diet related issue, then switch him to a higher quality dog food, it could help resolve the problem, if you see no improvement then consult your vet already.
Pica in Pups
- Give him a plenty of mental exercise to keep him busy. Give him different toys and safe things to chew on.
- Provide lots of physical exercise too. Play catch, tug of war, fetch and go on walks with your pet. Allow him to run around the yard as well while you supervise.
- Monitor him. Reprimand him verbally every time you see him chew on something that isn’t suppose to be. Redirect his attention and give her treats and toys instead.
- If you see him already eating non-edible items, take it from his mouth immediately as it can cause blockages or illnesses once swallowed.
Handling Compulsive Pica
If you are not seeking the aid of an expert animal behaviorist, then here are some steps you can do at home to curb his bad habit.
- Dog proof your home. Prevent him from gaining access to all non-edible items that he is loves on eating. Supervise him most of the time when you are out in the open. If necessary, you can put basket muzzle on him when you go out on walks.
- Discourage him. Every time you see him trying to chew on something that isn’t right, then reprimand him. Try to give him his toys and treats to redirect his attention, if he does so, praise him for that.
- Give him lots to do. Mental and physical exercise can help a lot. Go on walks, play with him, give him lots of challenging toys to keep him pre-occupied for hours and also allow him to mingle with his dog buddies at the park.
- Consult the vet. Ask your vet about medications that could minimize your pet’s stress and compulsive behavior.
- Teach him a new skill. Teaching him a new skill would prevent him from doing his compulsive behavior. Reward him for good performance and scold him of he tries to eat something that is not edible.
- Use deterrents. Using of safe taste deterrents on the items that your pet loves to chew on is also an idea. Useful and safe deterrents include ground pepper, tabasco sauce, Grannick’s bitter apple gel or spray. Be consistent on your application on the items and restrict her water source for 10-20 minutes for maximum results. The bad taste and limit of water source would discourage her from chewing on those items again. If you see him approaching on that item he loves to chew and would turn away, praise him immediately.
Pica in dogs is normal however it is not healthy since if could harm him. As an owner, you must do something to help him stop this bad behavior of his. If you think that you cannot handle the situation on your own, you better seek the help of an expert right away.
Is your pekingese well behaved? Good for you, if so, because mine is quite mischievous; trying to nibble on my garments whenever he can! What is your story? Share it with us below.