Pica in dogs: causes, risks and solutions - Toutoupourlechien

Does your dog suddenly start swallowing anything? He probably has pica. Where does this behavior come from? Can we fix it?

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What is pica?

Pica is an eating disorder in dogs in which the animal repeatedly ingests non-food and inedible items. It can be objects, stones, paper, fabric among many other things.

Some dogs will only eat one type of object, while others can swallow a wide variety.

Frequent and normal in puppies who take everything they find in their mouths to determine what is eaten or not eaten, this behavior is however pathological in adult dogs.

What causes pica in dogs?

While it is not difficult to identify the behavioral disorder itself in dogs, it can be more difficult to determine the cause.

There are indeed several contexts and factors that favor the ingestion of foreign bodies in dogs.

A dog that feels like vomiting or has digestive issues tends to lick the floor and swallow anything within reach. This can sometimes explain the ingestion of non-food materials like grass.

Other he alth problems in dogs such as hypothyroidism, intestinal parasitosis or an intestinal malabsorption problem can cause a change in appetite and pica.

Some developmental disorders in dogs, and in particular hypersensitivity-hyperactivity syndrome (Hs-Ha), are accompanied by hypertrophied oral exploratory behavior, among other behaviors that are embarrassing for those around them.In other words, the animal behaves like a puppy even in adulthood and takes everything in its mouth, at the risk of ingesting foreign bodies at the same time. This type of developmental disorder occurs when the dog has been separated from its mother too early, when it comes from too large a litter and/or when it has not been sufficiently stimulated in the first months of its birth. life.

Pica can also be part of obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, in dogs, which can result from the animal's lack of activity, emotions that the dog cannot otherwise express or of a feeling of unease expressed in this way.

What are the risks?

A dog with pica can swallow anything and everything. This can range from plant elements in the garden to pieces of glass, including socks or the cell phone of its owner.

Pica can therefore seriously endanger the dog's he alth because what it swallows can be toxic and/or lead to obstruction or even digestive perforation.

What to do in case of pica?

If your dog suffers from pica, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to find the underlying cause(s) of this abnormal behavior.

He alth issues are often the easiest to deal with. For example, if it turns out that the problem is due to a parasitosis, then it is easy for the veterinarian to prescribe an antiparasitic treatment for the dog to remedy his problem.

If the pica is linked to a developmental disorder or an OCD, the treatment may be more delicate but it is nevertheless possible. It generally combines behavioral therapy with the prescription of anxiolytic or anti-depressant drugs. If necessary, these will make the animal more receptive to behavioral therapy and relieve its discomfort more quickly.

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