Has your canine buddy ever eaten something he shouldn’t? Perhaps Fido ate your child’s sock, or decided to snack on your remote control. This is called pica, and, while it isn’t exactly normal behavior, it isn’t as uncommon as we’d all like. As your Marion, IA area veterinarian, I offer some information on pica below.
There’s no one specific cause of pica. Nutritional deficiencies seem to play a role, particularly when dirt or grass become Fido’s snack of choice. Dogs may also engage in pica to relieve boredom, frustration, fear, or loneliness. In some cases, anxiety—particularly separation anxiety—is the root cause. With puppies, pain from teething may drive the behavior. In other cases, pica may be a type of obsessive-compulsive behavior.
While it may be amusing to tell your friends or coworkers about the time Fido swallowed your wedding ring, pica really is no laughing matter. It can be very dangerous, and, in some cases, can even prove fatal. If your canine companion was to eat something unsafe, he would be at risk of choking, gastrointestinal perforations and/or blockages, and even poisoning.
If your dog is prone to eating, well, everything, you’ll need to be extra careful with petproofing. You’ll also need to know the signs that Fido has eaten something dangerous. Some of these include panting, vomiting, trembling, diarrhea, lack of appetite, restlessness, and lethargy. Your pup may also stretch with his rear up and stay in that position, or act like he needs to throw up but can’t. Unusual/uncharacteristic vocalizations, such as grunting, groaning, whining, or whimpering, are also red flags. These are all indications that your furry pal needs immediate care. Contact your veterinarian or an emergency clinic right away.
Do you know or suspect that your canine friend is engaging in pica? The first thing to do would be to schedule a thorough veterinary exam. If your pooch gets the all-clear, you’ll want to look at other causes, such as boredom. The good news is that providing Fido with things like toys, walks, playtime, and attention can help quite a bit. Dogs that are happy, active, and entertained are less likely to act up. That said, behavioral counseling may be needed for severe cases.
As your Marion, IA area veterinarian, I am happy to answer any questions about your dog’s health or care. Contact me anytime!