If your beloved doggie will eat practically anything in front of him, don't just chalk his dining preferences up to a naturally zany temperament or huge appetite. When a dog obsessively eats random items such as socks and gloves, a compulsive disorder such as pica may be to blame.
Pica is the name for an obsessive-compulsive condition that entails eating things that aren't usually classified as edible. Apart from dogs, cats and humans also occasionally suffer from pica. Whether your dog munches on gloves, socks, wool sweaters, dirt, grass, power cords or even fecal matter, there usually is a trigger to the decidedly unconventional behavior.
Pica can come about due to a variety of factors. In some cases, a doggie may be looking for attention from his owners, even if that attention isn't necessarily all that good. If a pet is on the senior side, pica may be a result of cognitive issues, whether disorientation or vision loss. Nutritional deficiencies sometimes are to blame. A dog may also resort to eating random items as a means of coping with severe stress or uncertainty, not to mention classic boredom. Also, some dogs begin eating strange items as sort of a relic from their comforting and familiar time as a puppy, when they were exploring new items using their mouths.
Before you make any assumptions regarding why your dog likes eating your socks and gloves so much, take him to the veterinarian to make sure his behavior isn't medically-driven. According to the ASPCA, pica sometimes is associated with aforementioned nutritional imbalance, metabolic conditions, parasites, food poisoning and gastrointestinal ailments.
If your doggie's pica isn't related to anything medical, do what you can to quell the troublesome situation on your own. First, make sure your pet has plenty of toys that look nothing like your own gloves or socks. Secondly, make time for your cutie, no matter how busy or hectic your life may be. If he is indeed acting out as a way to get your attention, there likely is a valid reason. Whether you go for long nightly walks in the park with him, play "hide and seek" with him in your living room or snuggle him close on the sofa, make sure he knows that you appreciate and acknowledge him. Loneliness and boredom both can be devastating for dogs, especially if for extended periods.
The Humane Society recommends using gel or spray taste deterrents to discourage your little one from putting his mouth on your gloves or socks, whether he likes to chew them or actually eat them. Say goodbye to raggedy, tattered gloves and socks!
In the case of especially persistent and compulsive pica, contact your veterinarian regarding a referral to a qualified and reputable dog behaviorist in your area. Frequent and regular non-edibles consumption is not good for your pet's health, so you may need to take matters into more experienced hands. In severe situations, eating socks can even lead to intestinal blockage, which generally requires surgery. Don't waste time in getting a handle on your doggie's potentially very serious dilemma.