Pica Disease Symptoms in Puppies and Dogs

by Susan Spisak
Mail may be a snack for a dog with pica.

Mail may be a snack for a dog with pica.

Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images

If Rover craves and ingests any non-food items like garbage, paper, stones or soil, he may suffer from pica disease. Subsequent symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath, drooling or a change in activity level may confirm he's snacking on something other than kibble. Whether your canine is a pup or an older dog, you'll want to resolve his pica before he ingests something harmful to his health.

Causes

If your dog eats any foreign objects including feces, which is commonly referred to as coprophagy, he may have behavioral pica that's most likely due to boredom, stress or a need for attention. This can accelerate into compulsive behavior, where your dog is constantly searching for non-food items to eat. His pica may be masking medical or nutritional imbalances; it can indicate various deficiencies including diabetes, anemia, inflammatory bowel disease, parasitic infestation, malnutrition, or poisoning.

Resolutions

Keep tempting items away from your dog's reach. Exercise may alleviate boredom and promote positive attention. Provide new, safe toys to entertain, but always monitor. If he has coprophagy, keep your yard clean and consider leashing him when outdoors. Confer with your vet; he can run tests to determine if there's any underlying medical causes. If Rover's healthy and you're unable to hinder the pica, consult an animal behaviorist. It's essential to resolve the disease; it can lead to an intestinal blockage or other life-threatening issues.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images