ISSN 2398-2969      

Pica

icanis
Contributor(s):

Patrizia Piotti


Introduction

  • Pica is defined as the ingestion of non food items (rubber, rocks, plants, feces).
  • Cophropagia Coprophagia is a form of pica defined as eating feces.
  • In some cases pica may be part of normal behavior: grass eating is considered a normal behavior for dogs, with the hypothesized function of favoring the elimination of intestinal parasites; it is normal for a bitch to eat her puppies' feces, and indeed the eating of other feces when fresh may be a form of housecleaning to prevent infestation as it takes time for worm eggs to become infective after being eliminated; mouthing and ingestion of non nutritive items may be part of exploratory behavior.
    Print off the owner factsheet on Pica Pica to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • May initially depend on increased appetite.
  • Lack of more appropriate or attractive items to which play or exploratory behaviors can be driven.
  • It may originate from stealing behavior and attempts to prevent the owner from retrieving the object.
  • May depend on underlying anxiety.
  • It may be a compulsive disorder itself or an evolution of other compulsive disorders Stereotype behavior , ie fabric sucking behavior.
  • In the case of underlying stress (eg anxiety), it can be a coping mechanism, necessary for the dog.

Predisposing factors

General
  • Neutering Castration Ovariohysterectomy.
  • Insufficient food bulk given.
  • Young dogs lacking more appropriate items to be explored or to play with (eg in case of prolonged confinement, lack of exercise).
  • Large breeds without adequate activity and social interaction.
  • Drug-induced increased appetite.
  • Disease-induced malabsorption Malabsorption.
  • Medical conditions.

Pathophysiology

  • Can be due to unsatisfied appetite.
  • Coprophagia may be associated with normal disease regulating behavior.
  • Can originate from play, exploratory behavior, or lack of appropriate substrates to chew and become a habitual behavior through learning and repetition.
  • Can raise from anxiety manifested through destructive chewing and subsequent ingestion of items.
  • Compulsive type of pica may originate from emotional conflict in predisposed animals and may be involuntarily reinforced by owners (when trying to stop the behavior); emotional conflict associated with punishment may also worsen it.
  • Grass eating is a normal behavior, thought to act as a mechanical mean of expelling of parasites. It is an innate behavior; however it improves through learning and is facilitated by observation of the mother. Although emetic properties of grass or an association with dietary insufficiency are not proven, a relationship between grass eating and gastro-intestinal disorders is thought to be possible.

Timecourse

  • It usually begins in puppies and young dogs.
  • Repetition and learning favor the establishment of habitual behavior.

Diagnosis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Treatment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Prevention

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Outcomes

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • McKenzie S J, Brown W Y & Price I R (2010) Reduction in grass eating behaviours in the domestic dog, Canis familiaris, in response to a mild gastrointestinal disturbance. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 123 (1/3), 51-55 VetMedResource.
  • Bjone S J, Brown W Y & Price I R (2009) Maternal influence on grass-eating behavior in puppies. Journal of Veterinary Behavior - Clinical Applications and Research (2), 97-98 ResearchGate.
  • Sueda K L C, Hart B L, Cliff K D (2008) Characterisation of plant eating in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 111 (1/2), 120-132 VetMedResource.
  • Moon-Fanelli A A, Dodman N H & Cottam N (2007) Blanket and flank sucking in Doberman Pinschers. JAVMA 231 (6), 907-912 PubMed.
  • Luescher A U (2004) Diagnosis and Management of Compulsive Disorders in Dogs and Cats. Clin Tech Small Anim Pract 19 (4), 233-239 PubMed.
  • Overall K L, Dunham A E (2002) Clinical features and outcome in dogs and cats with obsessive-compulsive disorder: 126 cases (19892000). JAVMA 221 (10), 1445-1452 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Landsberg G, Hunthausen W & Ackerman L (1997)Handbook of behavior problems of the dog and cat.pp 112-114.
  • Overall K L (1997)Clinical Behavioral Medicine for small animals.pp 245-246.
  • Askew H (1996)Treatment of Behavior Problems in dogs and cats.pp 270-271.
  • Houpt K A (1982)Ingestive behavior problems in dogs and cats.Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract12, 6683-6692.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!

 
 
 
 

To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field

 Security code