Pica in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Understanding Why Your Dog Eats Weird Things

Pica in Dogs: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2014/09/16/14/46/chowchow-448311_1280.jpg

Dogs who have pica have the propensity to consume non-food things including plastic, pebbles, and other inedible substances. Here, we discuss how to take care of this condition.

What is Pica in Dogs?

Pica is a condition in dogs that refers to their tendency to eat non-food items, such as rocks, plastic, and other inedible objects. Pica can cause major health issues in dogs, including gastrointestinal obstructions and hazardous ingestions, despite the fact that at first it may seem harmless. Understanding the causes and signs of canine pica is crucial for dog owners who want to prevent the condition. 

In order to help you keep your furry buddy well and secure, we'll go over the ins and outs of canine pica in this article, including its causes, symptoms, and available treatments.

Why Does My Dog Eat Random Things?

Dog eating things can have a variety of causes, and it's essential to identify the underlying issue to address the problem effectively. Some of the most frequent causes of canine pica are listed below:

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Dogs may eat non-food items if they're not getting enough nutrients in their diet, such as iron, zinc, or fiber.

  • Behavioral issues: Some dogs may engage in pica as a result of anxiety, boredom, or a compulsive disorder.

  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis, may cause dogs to eat non-food items as a way to alleviate their discomfort.

  • Lack of exercise: Dogs who are bored or receive insufficient mental stimulation may turn to eating non-food items.

  • Genetics: Some dog breeds are more genetically predisposed to pica than others, including Labrador Retrievers and Beagles.


In order to identify pica in dogs early, it's essential to be aware of the prevalent symptoms. The symptoms of pica in dogs can take many different forms. Some of the most typical symptoms of canine pica include the ones listed below:

  • Eating non-food items

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Changes in appetite

  • Behavioral changes

Clinical Diagnosis

Veterinarians often perform a physical check on dogs to rule out any underlying medical disorders that might be the source of the behavior before diagnosing pica. Among the diagnostic procedures that could be employed are:

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help identify any nutritional deficiencies or underlying medical conditions that could be causing pica.

  • X-rays: X-rays can be used to detect any foreign objects that may have been ingested by your dog.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound can help pinpoint any abnormalities in your dog's digestive system and detect any foreign objects that may be causing blockages.

  • Endoscopy: An endoscopy involves the use of a small camera to visualize your dog's digestive tract and identify any foreign objects that may have been ingested.

Once other medical conditions have been ruled out, veterinarians will focus on addressing the underlying cause of pica and developing a treatment plan that is tailored to your dog's individual needs.

How Do You Treat Pica in Dogs?

The underlying reason for the behavior will determine how to treat and manage pica in dogs. The following are a few of the most popular methods for treating and managing canine pica:

  • Nutritional management: Dogs with pica caused by nutritional deficiencies may benefit from a diet that is specifically designed to meet their nutritional needs. Your veterinarian may recommend dog food for pica that is high in fiber, vitamins, or minerals to address any deficiencies and reduce the likelihood of pica. Dog vitamins for pica may also be recommended by your vet.

  • Behavioral modification: Dogs with pica caused by behavioral issues may benefit from behavioral modification techniques, such as increasing exercise and playtime with toys, providing mental stimulation, and reducing anxiety triggers. Your veterinarian may also recommend training and behavior modification programs to help address any underlying behavioral issues that are contributing to the disorder.

  • Medication: Your veterinarian may recommend medicine to treat the condition and lessen the likelihood of pica if your dog's pica is brought on by an underlying medical condition, such as pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease. Medications like Prednisolone and Cyclosporine may be prescribed by your vet.

  • Environmental management: Environmental management can help reduce the likelihood of pica by removing any non-food items that may be tempting to your dog. This can include keeping trash cans securely closed, removing rocks or other items from your dog's environment, and providing appropriate chew toys to satisfy your dog's chewing needs.

Prevention Tips

Preventing pica in dogs can be challenging, but there are steps that pet owners can take to reduce the likelihood of the behavior. Here are some prevention tips to keep in mind:

  • Provide a well-balanced diet: Make sure your dog's diet is well-balanced and meets its nutritional needs. Consider working with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog's individual needs.

  • Offer a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation: Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help lessen boredom and worry, which can lead to pica. Think about offering lots of chances for playtime, walks, and other physical activities, in addition to engaging items that stimulate the mind.

  • Keep non-food objects out of your dog's reach: Keep non-food objects like pebbles, socks, and plastic out of your dog's reach. Trash cans should always be tightly shut, and your dog's environment should be clear of anything that could be enticing for him to chew on or consume.

  • Observe your dog carefully: Pay great attention to your dog's routines and behavior, and seek medical help if you observe any changes or strange behavior.

  • Consider crate training: Crate training can help keep your dog safe and prevent them from accessing non-food items while unsupervised.

By taking these prevention tips into consideration and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help reduce the likelihood of pica in your dog and keep them healthy and happy.

Was this article helpful?