You’ve recently seen Fido or Kitty start eating a lot of things they shouldn’t be: dirt, grass, feces and even plastic. Your pet has a healthy diet and is otherwise in good health. So what’s going on?
This behavior is called pica. If it goes on for a long time, it can be quite harmful to your cat or dog. Dirt and feces in particular can give rise to infections and plastic can obstruct the passage of food and water through the intestine and in extreme cases, require surgical intervention to remove blockages.
Your furry friend may be indulging in non-food binges because he or she may have some kind of nutritional deficiency such as iron. If Fido or Kitty has an otherwise good diet, then chances are your furry friend may have a problem with digestion or nutrient absorption. Intestinal parasites could be the culprit here as they tend to steal a pet’s nutrients from the gut. Otherwise, it’s possible that your pet may have liver or pancreatic issues that need to be addressed.
Other causes of pica may be behavioral. If your dog or cat is young or especially active, he or she may be expressing boredom in the act of eating non-food items. Some purebred cats can engage in pica behaviors if they are weaned too young and eat a low-roughage diet or don’t eat grass. In the latter case, giving Kitty access to grass increases dietary fiber and helps eliminate pica.
Regardless of what’s causing this disturbing syndrome in your pet, it’s important that you make an appointment at Austin Pet and Bird Clinic to get your animal pal checked out. Our DVMs will run all necessary medical tests to get to the bottom of Fido or Kitty’s non-food binging habits and give you tips on how you can modify your pet’s behavior should no disease be present. When you need the services of veterinarians who truly care, contact us!
Photo credit: Willem Siers