If your pooch seems like a wannabe canine garbage disposal at times, you're definitely not alone. Dogs often have a voracious appetite for anything they see or smell people eating. If you observe your precious pet attempting to eat inedible items, however, he may have a classic case of pica.
Dogs Eating Strange Things
When it comes to eating, some things are strange, and other things are just really strange. If your dog salivates at the sight of your father-in-law eating peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, that just is strange -- but also pretty normal and no cause for alarm. If he eats rubber bands, plastic bags, stones, sweaters, paper towels or wooden furnishings, then his appetite undoubtedly falls into the latter category. Dogs that consume inedible things are often experiencing pica, which is a medical ailment that arises due to a variety of causes.
"Give Me Attention"
If your poor doggie all of a sudden seems to think that the rocks in your yard taste delicious, the need for attention may be at fault. Perhaps your pup is feeling bored and neglected, and is resorting to eating random and inappropriate items as a way to get you to focus on him. If you suspect that this may be the case, it may be time to invest in a little more one-on-one cuddling or playing time with your pooch -- and maybe in a few new exciting, brain-stimulating and interactive doggie toys, too, especially if you spend a lot of time away from home at work.
"I'm Stressed Out"
Dogs sometimes deal with their stress and nerves by partaking in compulsive behavioral patterns, whether pica or obsessively chasing after their shadows or tails. Some examples of typical anxiety-inducing situations in dogs include a new baby in the home, changing apartments, new pets and hostile and tense household environments.
"I Need to See a Veterinarian"
Health woes can also trigger strange eating behaviors in canines. If your dog is not eating a well-rounded diet that contains all of the nutrients and minerals his body needs, he may respond by dining on the most bizarre things he can find, whether sand, napkins or anything else. Unusual eating preferences also can signify other health problems, including gastrointestinal parasites, for one. Because of all of the potentially problematic possibilities, prompt veterinary attention is of the essence. Even if you don't think that your dog's pica is health-related, veterinary help and guidance is highly important. Swallowing inedible things can sometimes trigger fatal consequences -- particularly obstructions within the digestive tract. Whether your dog needs veterinary attention for a health ailment or for you to manage his stress and activity levels more effectively, changes are necessary.
"I'm a Curious Little Puppy"
If your doggie is an energetic little youngster, his strange dining patterns may just be a puppy phase. Puppies are naturally curious and inquisitive little fluff balls, and putting their mouths on strange things and sometimes even swallowing them is relatively commonplace. These behaviors usually fizzle out when puppies are roughly 6 months old. To be on the safe side, however, notify your veterinarian of your puppy's habit.
- UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Unusual Eating Habits in Dogs and Cats
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Other Canine Behavioral Problems
- Animal Humane Society: Unusual Eating Habits in Dogs and Cats
- The Humane Society of the United States: Pica - Why Pets Sometimes Eat Strange Objects
- ASPCA: Pica (Eating Things That Aren't Food)
- The Washington Post: Pica-Proof Your Pet
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