Has your dog ever eaten something he shouldn’t? If so, you’re in good company. This behavior—which is known as pica—may make for some fun stories, but it can actually be very dangerous. A Cherry Hill, NJ veterinarian offers some insight on this below.
What Is Pica?
Pica is technically defined as eating and/or craving things that are not food. While many pets may engage in pica, it’s particularly common in dogs. Fido has eaten all sorts of things, from socks to phones to nails to toys. This can be very dangerous, and even potentially deadly: with pica, there is always a risk of obstructions or perforation of the digestive system. Your pooch could also ingest something that is toxic.
Pica should be considered a medical emergency: while in some cases, the object may exit Fido in the usual way, severe cases may need medical intervention, which could entail emergency surgery. However, pica can be tricky because in some cases, the owner may not realize what has happened until their pets are very sick. It’s important to be aware of the red flags to look for. Vomiting and diarrhea are two key ones. Your canine buddy may have difficulty defecating, or they may act like they are trying to throw up but can’t. Other warning signs include drooling, pacing, whining, aggression, withdrawal, and a refusal to eat and/or drink. These things can be indicative of many issues, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet if you notice anything off.
There’s no one specific cause for pica: pets can engage in this behavior for many reasons. The first thing you would want to rule out would be medical causes, such as parasites, anemia, or nutritional deficiencies. We would recommend having your pooch examined to rule out potential health problems. If your vet gives the all-clear, then you can move on to looking at mental and emotional triggers, such as boredom, anxiety, or loneliness. Of course, when it comes to pets, an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of cure. Keep up with petproofing, and make sure your pooch always has plenty of toys and suitable chews. We also recommend teaching Fido to Leave It or Drop it.
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