Can Pica in Dogs Be Cured

icon May 25, 2023

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hunger, nutritional imbalance, hormonal imbalance, diabetes, thyroid disease, and many other behaviors or diseases can trigger omnivory, and some breeds are more likely to suffer from it (Labradors).

Pica in Dogs: Causes, Treatment & Prevention | Pawlicy Advisor

What is Pica In Dogs?

In dogs, pica refers to a condition where they exhibit a persistent craving and consumption of non-food items. Dogs with pica may compulsively eat items such as rocks, dirt, clothing, paper, plastic, or other objects that are not considered part of a normal diet.

Pica ≠ Eating Poop

Pica does not include eating poo. Because long, long ago, poo was one of their foods. Because the sensitivity to smell is more than 40 times higher than humans, it is easier to capture subtle smells. So in the eyes of the dog, you think the stinky for him is a plate of colorful and delicious food. Pica does not include eating poo. Because a long time ago, poo was one of their food.

Benjamin Hart, an animal behaviorist at the University of California, Davis, found that only 2 percent of dogs changed their pooping habits after taking trace minerals. Benjamin Hart, a team of animal behaviorists at the University of California, Davis, said at the annual meeting of the Society of Veterinary Medicine, "The act of eating poo reflects the ancestral nature of canines to protect others from parasites in their feces."

Symptoms of Pica in Dogs

When your dog consumes non-food items, it is easy to spot the signs of omnivory if you are nearby. Sometimes, however, dogs may eat non-food items secretly. 

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The First Sign of Pica in Dogs

Ingestion of a Non-food Item

  • pica in dogs eating sticks
  • pica in dogs eating rocks
  • pica in dogs eating paper
  • ......

Pet owners may notice that their dog is sick from consuming non-food items, showing signs such as vomiting or diarrhea:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea, loose stool

  • bad breath

  • Broken teeth

  • Decreased appetite or anorexia

  • Pawing at the mouth/face

  • Gagging or retching

  • Abdominal distension (bloated stomach)

  • Tenesmus (straining to have a bowel movement)

  • Little to no feces produced

  • Dark, black tarry stool

  • Excessive drooling

  • Coughing

  • Blue/purple mucous membranes in the mouth

  • Visible distress or abnormal behavior

What Triggers Dog Pica?

Pica, the consumption of non-food items, can occur in dogs of different ages for various reasons. While the underlying causes can be similar, there are some differences between pica in older dogs and Puppies.

Causes of Pica in Older Dogs

Cognitive Dysfunction: Dogs may engage in pica behavior if they are not receiving adequate nutrition or are deficient in certain essential nutrients, such as vitamins or minerals. In such cases, they may try to compensate by consuming non-food items.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Older dogs may have specific nutrient deficiencies that can trigger abnormal cravings or behaviors, including the consumption of non-food items.

Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, endocrine imbalances (e.g., diabetes, hyperthyroidism), dental issues, or pain, can contribute to pica in older dogs.

Causes of Pica in Puppies

Exploration and Teething: Puppies and young dogs use their mouths to explore the world around them, and during the teething process, they may have an increased urge to chew on various objects, including non-food items.
Behavioral Issues: Some Puppies may develop pica due to boredom, stress, or anxiety. Ingesting non-food items can provide a form of entertainment or relief.
Lack of Proper Training: Insufficient training or inadequate guidance from the owner may lead to dogs developing inappropriate chewing habits, including pica.

Environmental Factors: Dogs may be attracted to certain non-food items due to their texture, taste, or smell. This could include objects like rocks, clothing, plastic, or even feces. In some cases, dogs may develop a preference for specific items and repeatedly seek them out.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Pica in Dogs

In order to diagnose pica, a series of blood, fecal, urine, and other tests are needed, but don't expect to spend a lot of money on tests to find out the results, because pica can also be triggered by psychological disorders, separation anxiety disorder, excessive stress can cause pica.

Can Pica in Dogs Be Cured?


  • If the pica is caused by a nutritional deficiency, your veterinarian may recommend different types of food, different amounts of food, nutritional supplements, a different feeding schedule, or a combination of these variations.
  • Probiotics promote intestinal health and can help some dogs with intestinal disorders that cause omnivory. Supplements can also be used to sprinkle on feces - to promote bad taste - and help prevent fecal eating disorders.
  • Provide your dog with alternative activities or toys to redirect their attention away from inappropriate items.
  • For dogs with stress-related pica, make sure the dog gets vigorous exercise daily in the form of walks, jogs, or off-leash sessions. Provide lots of acceptable chew items and fun toys to play with, and rotate them regularly (set some aside for a few weeks, then bring them back to rekindle your dog's interest in them).
  • Rewarding your dog for appropriate behavior, such as chewing on appropriate toys or eating their regular food. Praising and providing treats or toys when they make the right choices can help reinforce positive behaviors.

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Is Pica Fatal in Dogs?

Pica is a condition characterized by the consumption of non-food items. While pica itself may not be directly fatal, it can lead to serious health complications in dogs. The ingestion of non-food items can cause blockages or obstructions in the digestive tract, which may require surgical intervention to remove. These blockages can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Additionally, the items ingested in pica can be toxic or cause internal damage to the dog's organs. For example, swallowing sharp objects can puncture the gastrointestinal tract, leading to infections or internal bleeding. Ingesting toxic substances can also have severe consequences for a dog's health.

What Dog Breeds are Prone to Pica?

Pica-associated Breeds: There are certain breeds, such as the Weimaraner, Doberman Pinscher, and Miniature Schnauzer, that have been reported to have a higher prevalence of pica. In addition, Golden Retrievers and Labradors are known for their indiscriminate eating habits, which can sometimes include non-food items. They have a strong food drive and may be more prone to exploring and ingesting objects.

Is It OK for Dogs to Eat Paper?

While it is generally not harmful for a dog to occasionally consume small amounts of paper, such as chewing on a piece of tissue or paper towel, it is not considered a healthy or desirable behavior. Ingesting larger quantities of paper or consuming it regularly can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including vomiting, diarrhea, or blockages. Some papers may be coated with inks, chemicals, or other substances that could be toxic to dogs if ingested in significant amounts.

Is Pica Serious in Dogs?

Yes, pica can be a serious condition in dogs. While it may seem harmless for a dog to consume non-food items, there are potential risks and complications associated with pica.

Gastrointestinal Obstruction: Ingesting non-food items can lead to blockages or obstructions in the digestive tract. This can cause severe pain, discomfort, and potentially require surgical intervention to remove the foreign object. If left untreated, gastrointestinal obstructions can be life-threatening.

Internal Injuries: Swallowing sharp or jagged objects can cause internal injuries, such as punctures or tears in the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to infections, internal bleeding, and other complications.

Toxicity: Certain non-food items can be toxic to dogs. Ingesting toxic substances can result in poisoning and can have severe adverse effects on the dog's health.

Nutritional Imbalances: When a dog consumes non-food items instead of a balanced diet, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies can negatively impact the dog's overall health and well-being.

Choking Hazard: Ingesting non-food items can pose a choking hazard, especially if the objects are small or if the dog swallows them without properly chewing.



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