What is pica?

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Pica is a disorder in which dogs ingest non-food items. Dogs will seek out and consume things like rocks, plastic, articles of clothing and other inedible objects. While pica most often starts out as curiosity or a way to alleviate boredom, it can turn into a serious problem if the behavior becomes compulsive. Usually, a dog that develops a serious pica disorder will intentionally seek out non-nutritious items to consume.

Puppies often eat non-food items because they don’t know any better; they are testing out what they can and can’t chew on and digest. Puppies will grow out of this behavior after a certain period of time just by being told “no” by their owners. However, some dogs continue to seek out and eat inedible items throughout adulthood.

Adult dogs who suffer from pica will compulsively and aggressively seek out inedible items to consume. It can be very difficult to rectify this behavior and stop the urges to eat inedible items. The behavior is particularly disruptive on walks outdoors, where dogs that have pica may lunge and pull towards a variety of objects and items found outdoors. Special training, avoidance of non-edible items on walks and medications can help stop a dog from eating potentially harmful objects.

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