Posted by: Linda Trunell | January 10, 2014

Friday Fact – Pica


Pica (Eating things that aren’t food)

The consumption of nonfood items is a disorder called pica. Although pica can be a sign that a dog’s diet is lacking in some nutrient, when pica occurs in puppies and young dogs the most common culprit is boredom. Occasionally, eating nonfood items develops into compulsive behavior, resulting in a dog who’s highly motivated to find and consume specific objects. Rock eating is the most common form of pica, but dogs compulsively consume a variety of inedible objects, including plastic bags and containers, human clothing and wooden objects.

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  1. Very interesting Linda. At the vet I worked for we used to see that a lot. Thanks for sharing hon. 😀 *hugs*


    • I was interested in Pica because I have a Cane Corso pup in one of my classes who eats rocks. We worked on the “leave it” cue and didn’t have to resort to a muzzle. 🙂


  2. I was interested in what this had to say as two of my dogs like to eat cat poop on walks but not at home. But then, at the end, I got to the part about the remote control punishing devices. I am unsubscribing. That sucks. I am shocked that backwards information is in this site. Boo. Hiss.


    • Karen – If you read my blog, you know that I never use or recomend positive punishment or aversive training methods. Perhaps, I was remiss in specifically stating that in this particular post that I did not recommend the citronella collar and I appreciate your calling it to my attention. The link to the ASPCA site explains what Pica is and several ways of dealing with it. The air horn or citronella spray are the last resort items on the list. The ASPCA Position Statement on Training Methods states:
      “The ASPCA supports training methods that are based on an understanding of how animals learn and incorporate kindness and respect for both the pet and the guardian. Humane training does not inflict unnecessary distress or discomfort on the pet. Humane training makes primary use of lures and rewards such as food, praise, petting and play. In addition to lures and rewards, there are many training tools and types of equipment designed to assist guardians in managing their pets’ behavior at home and in public places. The ASPCA supports the use of methods and equipment that effectively accomplish the training objective with the least amount of stress for the pet. The ASPCA is opposed to any training equipment that causes a pet to experience physical discomfort or undue anxiety.”
      I have worked with guardians dealing with this issue and successfully resolved the problem by ensuring proper nutrition, adequate physical excercise and mental enrichment, management of the dog and its environment, along with teaching a “leave it” cue. We have not even resorted to using a muzzle.
      Many dogs try to eat the poop of other dogs, cats, deer, rabbits, etc. which is very unpleasant to us but “edible” to them. Pica is eating “non-food” items like rocks or plastic which could cause serious even life-threatening conditions; but the same suggestions for management and training would help to deter the poop eating behavior. I hope that I have clarified my position and that you will continue to subscribe. I would really like to hear that you were able to resolve the behavior using the other steps I mentioned above.



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