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Pica in Dogs

March 1, 2022

Have you ever come home and found that your canine pal has eaten your shoes, or chewed up your sofa? This may go beyond Fido’s natural need to chew. There’s actually a specific name for this behavior: pica. The whats, whens, and whys of pica in dogs can vary widely. A local vet offers some information on it below.


One of the most common forms of pica is eating grass. There are several possible reasons for this. Fido may be trying to soothe an upset stomach, or he may be trying to address a nutritional imbalance, which may have manifested as a craving. While most grass isn’t dangerous in and of itself, many plants are. Plus, a lawn that has been treated with chemicals or pesticides is definitely not safe for your pooch to eat. Your furry pal could also pick up parasites.

Fido Ate What?

It isn’t usually going to be an emergency If Fido snacks on your lawn. Unfortunately, though, pica isn’t limited to grass. Our canine friends have been known to eat all sorts of things. Socks and underwear are two common items. Man’s Best Friend has also eaten rocks, nails, screws, toys, watches, batteries, and, of course, homework, to name just a few things. As one can imagine, these things are definitely not safe for your furry friend. Some can cause choking or intestinal damage or blockages. Others, such as batteries, are highly toxic. In some cases, dogs’ ‘snacks’ will pass out the usual way. However, some cases can become life-threatening, and require surgical intervention. Call your vet immediately if you know or suspect your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have.


The first course of action in pups with pica is having Fido examined by a vet. It’s important to determine if your pooch has nutritional issues or health problems. Thyroid issues, diabetes, and malnutrition are a few possibilities. Your vet may recommend changing Fido’s diet, or putting him on medication and/or supplements.

It’s also important to realize that sometimes dogs engage in pica due to mental or emotional issues, such as stress, fear, or loneliness. Make sure Fido has suitable toys and playtime, and spend lots of quality time with him. Puppyproofing is also a must. Ask your vet for more information.

Our Advice on Pica In Dogs in 2024

How is pica defined?

Pica in dogs refers to the behavior of consuming non-food items, such as grass, socks, or toys, often beyond the natural urge to chew. Causes vary, from nutritional deficiencies to underlying health issues or emotional stress. While ingesting grass may not pose immediate harm, other objects can lead to serious health complications or require surgical intervention. Veterinary examination is crucial to identify any underlying conditions, such as thyroid problems or nutritional imbalances. Environmental enrichment, proper diet, and addressing emotional needs are key in managing pica. If concerned, contact your local animal clinic for guidance.

Why might a dog eat dangerous objects?

Dogs may eat dangerous objects due to various reasons. Nutritional deficiencies or health issues like thyroid disorders can trigger pica. Mental or emotional factors such as stress, fear, or loneliness may also contribute. Additionally, inadequate environmental stimulation or insufficient playtime could lead to boredom-induced chewing behaviors. It’s vital for pet owners to provide appropriate toys, spend quality time with their dogs, and puppy-proof their homes to prevent access to harmful items. If concerned, consulting a veterinarian can help address underlying issues and ensure the well-being of the dog.

Besides eating non-food items, are there any other signs of pica in dogs?

Aside from ingesting non-food items, dogs with pica may exhibit various signs indicating underlying issues. These signs include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal discomfort, and changes in appetite or weight. Additionally, behavioral cues such as restlessness, anxiety, or compulsive chewing may also suggest pica. Pet owners should monitor their dogs closely for any unusual behaviors and consult a veterinarian if concerned. Identifying and addressing the root causes of pica is essential for ensuring the overall health and well-being of the dog.

Are certain dog breeds more prone to pica than others?

While pica can occur in any breed, certain factors like genetics, environment, and underlying health conditions may predispose some breeds to this behavior. Breeds known for their curious nature or high energy levels, such as Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Terriers, may exhibit pica more frequently. Additionally, breeds prone to anxiety or stress, like German Shepherds or Border Collies, could also be at higher risk. However, it’s essential to recognize that pica can occur in any dog, regardless of breed. Consulting with a veterinarian can help address breed-specific concerns and develop appropriate management strategies.

If pica is caused by a chronic medical condition, how is it managed long-term?

When pica is linked to a chronic medical condition, long-term management involves addressing the underlying health issue while implementing behavioral interventions. This may include dietary changes to address nutritional deficiencies, medication or supplements to manage conditions like thyroid disorders or diabetes, and regular veterinary check-ups to monitor the dog’s health status. Additionally, providing a stimulating environment, appropriate toys, and ample exercise can help alleviate stress and anxiety that may contribute to pica behavior. Collaborating closely with a veterinarian ensures comprehensive management tailored to the dog’s specific needs.

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your animal clinic in Peterborough, ON, today.