Pica is a common behavior among pets, which involves the consumption of inappropriate objects. While this condition can occur in both dogs and cats, it is more commonly seen in dogs. Additionally, pica can involve the consumption of many different non-food objects including rocks, dirt, clothing, feces, wood and soap. There are many different reasons why pets eat non-food items. In some cases, an animal may eat inedible objects if it is starving. The same can be said for dogs that eat feces. However, starvation is not the only reason that may cause dogs to eat feces. Many dogs will also eat their own feces if they make house training mistakes. Additionally, pets that are left alone for hours at a time often become bored and begin eating inappropriate objects. Excessive stress can cause the behavior as well. Other things that can cause pica in cats and dogs include thyroid disease, vitamin deficiencies, anemia, intestinal parasites and neurological diseases.
How it Affects your pet
Eating non-food items can be quite dangerous for pets, especially if they choose to eat sharp or toxic objects. In fact, depending on the item that your dog or cat eats, the object could puncture your pet's digestive system, cause an obstruction or even poison your cherished furry friend. As such, it is essential that you recognize this behavior right away and do what you can to modify it.
The symptoms of pica in dogs and cats may vary depending on the type of objects a pet may choose to consume. Of course, an obvious sign of the condition is actually seeing the pet consume an inedible object. However, there are other symptoms to look for, and they are as follows: Coughing, Retching and/or Choking, Difficulty Breathing, Vomiting With or Without Blood, Diarrhea With or Without Blood, Weakness and/or Lethargy, Apathy and/or Distress.
First of all, if your pet is eating inappropriate objects, you will need to have it checked out by a veterinarian. In this way, you can find out if the behavior stems from an underlying health problem. If there is a health issue causing the behavior, it will need to be addressed first. If it is determined that the behavior is not caused by a health issue, there are still some steps you can take to modify the behavior. If you know what your pet is eating, be sure to restrict your pet's access to the item. If the item is something that you cannot place out of reach, try spraying some Bitter Apple on it. If you catch your dog or cat in the act of eating a non-food object, firmly say no and replace the object with a pet toy. If you must leave your pet alone for several hours, place it in a safe place with plenty of pet-safe toys. Finally, always keep cat trays and potty areas clean to discourage your pet from eating feces.
Pica is much more common in dogs than cats.
- Eating non-food items can be quite dangerous for pets, especially if they choose to eat sharp or toxic objects. In fact, depending on the item that your dog or cat eats, the object could puncture your pet's digestive system, cause an obstruction or even poison your cherished furry friend. As such, it is essential that you recognize this behavior right away and do what you can to modify it.