It's dangerous, sometimes gross and something your pooch definitely shouldn't do. It's called pica, and it means eating non-food items, sometimes in a compulsive manner. Not much is known about it, but it's definitely something you should put a stop to as soon as possible.
What Pica Is
Pica is the eating of non-food items -- items that have no nutritional value. This is a common occurrence in puppies, as they tend to explore the world with their mouth. By 6 months or so of age, most dogs grow out of this behavior, but this unfortunately isn't always the case.
The exact causes of pica are unknown, but there are several speculations as to what triggers this disease. One such cause is nutrient deficiency. Your pup may not be getting enough of a certain nutrient, such as iron, and may be trying to make himself healthier. Gastrointestinal problems may also lead to pica, including stomach pains or intestinal parasites. Another cause could be anxiety, stress or attention-seeking.
Discussing the Problem
Before all else, take your pooch to your favorite veterinarian and have him looked at for possible parasites, nutrient deficiencies or other health problems. If these are present, your pooch may continue to seek out the missing nutrient or to ease his stomach pain despite whatever you do to try to make him stop eating forbidden items.
Stopping the Pica
Because pica easily turns into a compulsive behavior in your pooch, it's going to be up to you to save the day and help him stop getting into the stuff he so desperately wants to eat. The best thing you can do is to keep him away from what he's after. Put him on a leash while he's outside and put the inside stuff out of his reach. Use taste deterrents on objects you can't easily keep away from him. These include commercially bought bitter-tasting sprays or even hot sauce.
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