CVMA | Documents | Medical Reasons May Be Basis for Eating Junk

Medical Reasons May Be Basis for Eating Junk

November 21, 2012

When dogs ingest things that have no nutritional value such as stones, wood, plastic or dirt, the condition is referred to as pica. This type of conduct can be behavioural or medical in origin.

As a behavioural problem, pica can occur in dogs that were inclined to be very mouth-oriented as puppies. These dogs like to constantly chew on objects and are always biting, pulling and mouthing when interacting with people. It is thought that pica may simply be an extension of this mouthing behaviour, which has progressed to the swallowing of unusual things.

Pica may also indicate an intestinal upset. Often, ingesting dirt or similar substances may be a way of relieving stomach or intestinal pain, whether from hyperacidity or cramps due to excessive gas.  In some cases, a change to a high-quality commercial diet that may be less upsetting to the digestive system may be curative.

Your veterinarian should also investigate the possibility of a nutritional deficiency. For example, a deficiency in minerals such as sodium or iron can lead to pica in dogs. Your dog should also be tested for intestinal parasites. Discuss the matter with your veterinarian to rule out these and other various possibilities.