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Pica in dogs is a health condition characterized by the compulsive ingestion of non-food items like cloth, plastic, wood, paper, or even rocks. Dogs with pica might be obsessed with eating one type of non-food item or they might eat anything they can get their paws on.

When it comes to eating, dogs don’t always have the most discerning palates. Most dogs will happily wolf down any food that seems remotely edible. This condition typically seen in adolescent and adult dogs. Puppies often ingest non-food items, but this is generally part of normal puppy behavior.

Usually pica is a psychological, compulsive behavior issue for dogs, but it may also result from medical issues or poor nutrition. It’s important to work on eliminating this behavior because ingesting foreign objects can lead to digestive system blockages, choking, poisoning, or other problems.

Pica can cause serious problems to your pet’s health. If your pet is eating non-food items, you should take him to a veterinarian.

What Causes Pica in Dogs

Most cases of pica in dogs are behavioral in nature. Still, it’s important to rule out any medical conditions such as malnutrition, liver disease, anemia, and parasites. Once we know your dog is eating non food items for behavioral reasons, we can start to look at causes and prevention.

Common behavioral reasons for pica include:

  • Boredom
  • Learned behavior
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Fear of punishment (in the case of stool eating, eliminating the evidence of an accident in the house may help the dog avoid being punished).

In most cases, pica does not go away on it’s own. It’s often a compulsive behavior, regardless of how it started or the reasons for it.

Symptoms of Pics On Dogs

Ingested foreign objects can cause internal ulcerations, gastrointestinal irritation and blockage in the intestines. Your may have one or more of the following symptoms, after ingesting a non-food item:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose Stool
  • Chronic bad breath

If there is a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract symptoms may include:

  • Straining during bowel movement
  • Unable to move bowels
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Burping
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abdominal contractions

Diagnosing Pica in Dogs

Pica in dogs are generally diagnosed as a result of the behavior itself. There may be abnormalities that can be detected in lab work if the condition is associated with other diseases.

In order to determine if an underlying medical issue is to blame. Your vet might need to do blood, urine, stool, and other tests. This is to check for improper digestion/malabsorption, the presence of parasites, and more.

How to Treat Pica in Dogs

While you may be able to temporarily remove non-food items from your dog’s reach, you must treat the underlying cause for their pica to truly eliminate it. Depending on your dog’s case, pica may be caused by mental distress or an underlying medical condition.

For a psychological issue, such as anxiety, boredom, or true compulsive behavior. When not given enough exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction, dogs seek out their own activities.

Pica can be triggered by several health conditions. You must bring your dog to the vet to figure out which condition is causing their pica. This is something that cannot be diagnosed at home.

If your vet diagnoses your dog with a health condition, a treatment plan will be made for them. Additionally, a special dietary plan may be put in place.


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