The Andys Veterinary Hospital

Pica in Dogs

Stones from an xray in a puppy at The Andys Veterinary Hospital

Dogs especially puppies love to chew lots of inedible things like shoes, rocks, just to mention a few, can bring deleterious health complications that might need urgent medical attention.

This condition where dogs eat inedible items is called pica. It is common with puppies and to some extent, some breeds like the Labrador and dachshunds. Labrador are genetically inclined to be always hungry and would eat almost anything, and this predisposes them to pica. Among the items commonly consumed include plastic toys, rocks, soaks, maize cobs etc

Pica can also be due to behavioral problems like boredom or habits that developed due to painful past experiences. Anxiety, stress, or lack of socialization will form harmful habits which pica is one of them.

Food or poor nutritional quality that lacks essential minerals and vitamins will create deficiencies that will induce pica. Home made or poor quality dog food many times lack these essential macro and micro elements which predisposes dogs to pica.

Pica can also be due to chronic health conditions, like the inflammatory bowel disease, iron deficiency, hypothyroidism and intestinal parasites. Some prescribed medications that increase appetite like steroids and Phenobarbital have been known to cause pica.

Symptoms that your dog has eaten foreign body will include lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy or depression, painful abdomen and breathlessness.

Diagnosis of pica is made from the history and physical examination which will include ultrasound and x rays.

Treatment of pica will depend on behavior or the underlying issue. Behavioral problems can be treated with training or anxiety reliving medications. Surgery is recommended where there is stomach or intestinal blockage.

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