We pet parents have all seen it at some point. As a Chandler pet sitter, I’ve seen it often. Our dog will start treating the cat’s poop as a food group, or our kitty will decide that yarn is better chewed and swallowed than played with. What is going on when this occurs? This is a condition known as Pica.
Pica is characterized by the chewing on and/or ingestion of non-food objects. It happens in both dogs and cats. Dogs tend to eat either their own or available cats’ poop. I know, yuk! This type of Pica is called Coprophagy. Cats usually go for rubber bands, yarn, paper or plastic.
There are various schools of thought on what causes Pica in our fur-kids. It may be that a dog is missing a nutrient in his diet, or that a cat is exhibiting separation anxiety. There’s no definitive known reason yet for the development of Pica.
Pica is not only unpleasant, it can also pose a serious health risk for your dog or cat. A dog eating poop can ingest parasites. A dog or cat eating yarn, rubber bands, or plastic may suffer intestinal blockage. This can be life-threatening!
What can you do to deal with this issue? Happily, there are several recommendations on how to treat Pica. The first course of action is to visit your trusted Veterinarian. She can check for any health problems that may have gone unnoticed in your pet. Another option is to consult with a professional animal behaviorist.
There are many ways to combat Pica in your pet. For poop-eaters, there is Bitter Apple Spray, which can be applied to any poop that your dog has access to. Consistent use may help the dog to dislike that formerly tempting poop! Another option is Cayenne Pepper. For dogs who are getting into the cat box, a baby gate can help minimize access to the area. An additional idea is to keep the yard and cat boxes as clean of poop as possible. Also, keeping the environment as free as possible of tempting, dangerous items is a big help. In the case of a pet who possibly is just bored, add chew-safe and exciting toys to her environment-either a dog or cat! Distraction may be very helpful.
As your Chandler pet sitter and a personal pet parent, I know how frustrating Pica can be. Please consider consulting your local Veterinarian and/or an animal behaviorist in hopes of regaining a Pica-free pet.