Dog may eat some materials which are normally not included in their food. This problem is called PICA. This is a deprived appetite. They often eat materials kike soil, rock, rubber, plastic, wood etc. It is a compulsive disorder. The other compulsive disorders seen in dogs are excessive licking, spinning in circle etc. These are repetitive in action and are non beneficial behaviors, Pica is very risky too because some times these foreign materials block the intestine and may end in death.
Causes of Pica
1. Stress – produced by environmental factors like competition with other pets, change in home, too much punishment, confinement in small cages or crates etc.
2. Lack of socialization may cause it. Similarly if you give too much attention Pica may be developed. It is a behavior disorder.
3. Nutritional imbalances. Iron deficiency can produce Pica.
4. Parasite infestations can produce anemia which leads to Pica.
5. Gastrointestinal disorders like nonabsorbitive and nondigestive diseases. Pancreatic insufficiency, hypothyroidism, inflammation of bowels, intestinal lymphosarcoma etc may be the cause.
6. Endocrine disorders like diabetes mellitus and hyper adrenal activity can cause it.
Control of Pica
1. Consult a veterinarian to know whether Pica is produced by any disease. Blood tests should be done to rule out pancreatic insufficiency, hypothyroidism, anemia or endocrine disorder X ray may be taken to locate the foreign bodies. If it is due to a disease that must be treated.
2. Identify the cause and eliminate it. Cages and crates may be changed. Allow the dog to go out for sometime.
3. You should not pay much attention to this disorder. If you try to pet or console the dog this habit would be reinforced.
4. You should not punish the dog that would enhance the problem.
5. All the objects which your dog likes to chew may be sprayed with materials like pepper, eucalyptus etc.
6. You can use pet repellent also.
7. Keep dangerous materials like plastic, rubber, yarn, string etc out of dog’s reach.
8. Wire basket muzzle can be used. This would allow dog to sniff and breathe but would not allow eating.