Behavioral pica, often known as stress eating, is a condition. According to Collier, “stress, boredom, and worry (particularly separation anxiety) can make a dog destructive and entice them to consume objects like clothing, bedding, or trash,” which can lead to them becoming destructive.
According to Collier, pica may be brought on by dietary imbalances, endocrine disorders (such diabetes or thyroid disease), or conditions that cause malabsorption or maldigestion. Anemia, gastrointestinal parasites, and liver disease are additional conditions that can result in pica.
Pica can occasionally be a side effect of a drug that a dog is taking for a different medical problem, such as steroids.
What occurs if a dog consumes fabric?
We advise you to take your pet to the veterinarian right away if they consume anything that could get caught in the lower intestine, such as a sock, a piece of a toy, or some other kind of cloth or plastic. Before the object becomes lodged in the lower intestines, your veterinarian may be able to induce vomiting or emesis in some circumstances. In other situations, your veterinarian might keep an eye on how the object is moving through the bowel and perform surgery if it is necessary.
Socks or Other Fabric
Dogs may consume socks and underwear due to an underlying GI condition, such as a food allergy or intolerance, according to some animal GI specialists. Consuming cloth most likely has a behavioral component as well. Similar to how certain dogs enjoy chewing on and eating sticks, some people prefer socks. Because fabrics cannot be broken down and transported through the digestive system like a stick, ingesting fabric by animals is a problem. Your dog might be able to vomit it back up or finally pass it through their excretions, depending on the size of the sock and your dog. Non-digestible items are more difficult for smaller dogs to pass. In this situation, your veterinarian might have to conduct surgery or use an endoscope to remove the object.
Don’t, as a general rule, leave your dog access to socks, underwear, cloth napkins, or other fabric things. The safety of your dog can serve as a powerful incentive to keep your bedroom and laundry room organized!
Toys or Other Plastic Objects
Plastic things, such those made of cloth, can also get into your pet’s system accidently and lead to problems. As opposed to a sock, toys and other plastic objects are typically less pliable, making them more prone to get stuck in your pet’s mouth, throat, or esophagus. This presents a choking risk. Only let your pet play with their toys under close observation if they have a tendency to chew them excessively. Make it a routine to tidy up any tiny trinkets, such as blocks, toy cars, or other toys, after your kids use them.
How do I get my dog to quit gnawing on my clothes?
As they explore the world, puppies and dogs frequently gnaw on objects. A dog can achieve a variety of goals by chewing. It offers young canines a means of easing pain that potential future teething may bring. It’s nature’s method of keeping aging dogs’ jaws strong and their teeth clean. Additionally, chewing prevents boredom and eases moderate tension or frustration.
Rule Out Problems That Can Cause Destructive Chewing
separation phobia Usually exclusively chewing when left alone or chewing most vigorously when left alone, dogs who chew to ease the tension of separation anxiety. Other separation anxiety symptoms include whining, barking, pacing, restlessness, urinating, and defecating. Please read our article, Separation Anxiety, for more information on separation anxiety and how to address it.
Clothing Sucking Some dogs chew, lick, and suckle on fabrics. According to some specialists, this behavior is a result of the baby being weaned too soon (before seven or eight weeks of age). It’s probable that a dog’s fabric-sucking activity has become compulsive if it persists for extended periods of time and it’s challenging to divert him when he tries to indulge in it. For information on how to locate a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a Board-Certified Veterinary Behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with specialized training and experience in treating compulsive behavior, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help.
Hunger A canine on a calorie-restricted diet may chew and damage items in an effort to find more food sources. Dogs typically chew on things that are connected to food or have a food-like fragrance.
How to Manage or Reduce Your Dog’s Destructive Chewing
dog teething Puppies chew due to their urge to explore new objects and their discomfort from teething. Similar to young children, puppies go through a phase where they lose their baby teeth and feel discomfort as their adult teeth erupt. By six months of age, this phase of increased chewing should be over. Some people advise feeding puppies frozen wet washcloths, frozen dog toys, or ice cubes to chew on to ease teething pain. Despite the fact that puppies must chew on everything, careful training can teach your dog to limit his chewing to acceptable objects, such as his own toys.
Typical Chewing Patterns For dogs of all ages, chewing is a totally typical behavior. Dogs, whether tame or wild, can spend hours gnawing bones. Their teeth stay clean and their jaws stay strong thanks to this activity. Dogs enjoy chewing on sticks, bones, and nearly anything else that is available. They chew for entertainment, stimulation, and anxiety reduction. Although chewing is a common action in dogs, occasionally they chew on undesirable objects. A range of suitable and appealing chew toys should be available for dogs of all ages, including pups. The right chewables alone won’t suffice to stop inappropriate chewing, though. Dogs need to learn what they can and cannot chew. They must be instructed in a kind, patient way.
- “Make your home dog-proof. Put priceless goods away until you’re certain that your dog will only chew on appropriate objects. Keep books on shelves, soiled clothes in a basket, shoes and apparel in a closed closet. Make success for your dog simple.
- Give your dog a ton of his own toys, as well as some inedible chew bones. Pay attention to the toys he enjoys chewing on for extended periods of time and keep providing those. To prevent your dog from being bored with the same old toys, it’s best to rotate or introduce something new into his chew toys every few days. (Take care: Only provide your dog with natural bones that are intended for chewing. Give him raw bones instead, such as leftover t-bones or chicken wings, as they can splinter and do your dog considerable harm. Also keep in mind that some people who chew extremely hard may be able to break tiny pieces off of real bones or even their own teeth. Consult your dog’s veterinarian if you are unsure what is safe to give him.)
- Bully sticks, pig ears, rawhide bones, pig skin rolls, and other natural chews are good options to give your dog. Sometimes, especially if they bite off and swallow big chunks, dogs can choke on edible chews. If your dog has a tendency to do this, make sure he is alone when he chews so he can unwind. (If he is forced to chew in the presence of other dogs, he can feel pressured to outdo them and try to gulp down food quickly.) Whenever your dog is chewing on an edible object, be sure to keep an eye on him so you can step in if he starts to choke.
- Find out when your dog is most inclined to chew and offer him a puzzle toy with some tasty treats during those times. You can put a portion of your dog’s daily food allowance in the toy.
- Spraying chewing deterrents on the improper items will deter chewing. Apply a small bit of the repellent on some cotton wool or tissue before using it. It should be placed gently in your dog’s mouth. Spit it out after letting him taste it. Your dog may toss his head, drool, or retch if the taste offends him. He won’t take the tissue or wool out of his pocket once again. Ideally, he will have discovered the link between the deterrent’s taste and smell, making him more inclined to refrain from chewing things that smell like it. All items that you don’t want your dog to chew should be treated with the deterrent. Every day for the next two to four weeks, reapply the deterrent. Please be aware, though, that more than merely using deterrents will be necessary for the successful treatment of destructive chewing. Both what they can chew and what they shouldn’t chew should be taught to dogs.
- Until you are certain that your dog’s chewing activity is under control, try your best to keep an eye on him during all waking hours. Tell him if you notice him licking or chewing something he shouldn’t be “Oh no, take it out of your dog’s mouth and replace it with something he CAN chew. Then joyfully commend him. Please see our article on finding professional behavior help for information on how to locate a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with experience treating aggression if you have any suspicions that your dog may become aggressive if you remove something from his mouth.
- Your dog needs to be kept from chewing on improper objects when you aren’t there to watch him. For instance, if you work during the day, you are permitted to confine your dog at home for up to six hours. Use a crate or lock the door or a baby gate to a tiny room where you’ve placed your dog. Remove all prohibited items from your dog’s confinement area and provide him with a selection of suitable toys and chew items in their place. If you crate your dog, keep in mind that you’ll need to exercise him frequently and spend time with him when he’s not crated.
- Playtime with you and other dogs is a great way to give your dog physical and mental stimulation (training, social visits, etc.). Make sure your dog has plenty of playtime before you have to leave him alone for longer than a short while.
- It’s vital to refrain from confusing your dog by presenting undesired household items, such as worn-out shoes and discarded cushions, in order to assist him learn the difference between things he should and shouldn’t chew. You cannot reasonably expect your dog to learn which shoes are acceptable to chew on and which ones are not.
- Some young dogs and pups like chewing on soiled underpants. The best way to fix this issue is to consistently place dirty underwear in a closed hamper. Similar to puppies, some dogs enjoy raiding the trash and gnawing on used tampons and sanitary napkins. This carries a significant risk. A sanitary item that a dog eats may expand as it passes through his digestive tract. Put tampons and napkins in a container that your dog cannot access. As they mature, the majority of young canines outgrow these tendencies.
Some dogs merely do not have sufficient mental and physical stimulation. Chewing is one method that bored dogs often use to pass the time. Make sure to give your dog lots of opportunities to engage in mental and physical activity to discourage destructive chewing. Daily walks and outings, off-leash play with other dogs, tug and fetch games, clicker training lessons, dog sports (agility, freestyle, flyball, etc.), and serving meals in food puzzle toys are all excellent ways to do this.
Stress and Disappointment When under stress, a dog may occasionally chew, such as when he is confined in a car with youngsters or is crated next to another animal with whom he does not get along. Try to keep your dog away from stressful or upsetting circumstances to lessen this form of chewing.
Dogs who aren’t allowed to participate in interesting activities occasionally bite, shake, shred, and chew on adjacent things. When visitors pass by their kennels, shelter dogs and puppies may grab and shake blankets or bowls in an attempt to attract their attention. They act destructively out of irritation when they don’t understand. When a dog spots a cat or squirrel running by and wants to chase it but is confined by a fence, the dog may seize and gnaw on the gate. When a dog is in a training session and observes another dog enjoying fun, he could become so enthused that he grabs and chews his leash. (Dogs that compete in agility and flyball are particularly prone to this behavior since they observe other dogs having a wonderful time racing about and want to get in on the fun.) Predicting potential moments of frustration and providing your dog with a suitable toy for shaking and tearing is the best course of action for this issue. Bring a tug or stuffed animal toy to class for your dog to hold and gnaw on. Tie a rope toy to a sturdy object by the gate or barrier if your dog gets frustrated by pets or objects on the other side of a fence or gate at home. Give puppies and dogs in shelters toys and chew bones to keep them entertained. Teach them to go to the front of their kennels and sit quietly to attract attention from onlookers whenever it is possible.
- Do not spank, reprimand, or otherwise punish your dog after the event by pointing out the harm he caused. He is unable to relate his actions from hours or even just minutes ago to the punishment you gave him.
- Use duct tape sparingly if you need to keep your dog’s jaws shut over a chewed object. This is cruel, won’t teach your dog anything, and has even resulted in the death of several pets.
- Never attach a broken object to your dog. This is cruel and will not provide your dog any lessons.
- To stop chewing, avoid keeping your dog in a kennel for extended periods of time (more than six hours).
How is pica in dogs handled?
A pet who has pica will eat things that are not food, like toys, rocks, grass, and sticks. Kitty litter, twine, dental floss, and clothing are among the things cats are more prone to eat.
The issue with pica is that the foods consumed may seriously obstruct the digestive system. These objects may either become entangled in the delicate intestine or be unable to pass, leading to a serious sickness and subsequent endoscopy or emergency surgery.
The following symptoms could indicate a GI blockage in your pet:
- bending over to pass a stool
- reduced appetite
What Causes Pica in Pets?
The majority of pet cases of pica are behavioral in nature. However, it’s crucial to rule out any illnesses like undernourishment, liver disease, anemia, and parasites. We can begin to consider causes and prevention if we are aware that your pet is consuming non-food objects for behavioral reasons.
The following behavioral causes of pica are typical:
- learned conduct
- worry or tension
- aversion to punishment (in the case of stool eating, eliminating the evidence of an accident in the house may help the dog avoid being punished)
Pica frequently does not go away on its own. Regardless of how it began or the reasons for it, it is frequently a compulsive activity.
Treatment and Prevention of Pica
The following steps can be followed to assist avoid pica and manage the behavioral issue if there is no underlying medical illness.
- Ensure that your pet receives adequate mental and physical stimulation. For advice, let us know your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle. Hunting and sporting breeds need far more exercise than the average dog, which needs at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.
- If you spend a lot of time away from home, think about using environmental enrichment techniques like food puzzles, games, and a dog walker to prevent boredom.
- Cut off access to anything that your dog might eat.
- If your dog likes to eat things from the yard, think about training her to wear a basket muzzle. A muzzled dog should never be left unsupervised.
- While on a leash walk, use food and praise to divert your dog from ingesting foreign things or poop. Teach him to say, “Leave it.”
- Consider using cayenne pepper or a spray of bitter apples to cover the items.
- Give your pet a lot of safe chew toys and other items to play with that they can’t swallow.
- Consider getting your pet connected with a veterinarian behaviorist who can assist you in identifying the cause of their behavior if they continue to consume foreign objects.
The majority of the time, pica treatment and prevention will be ongoing initiatives. A follow-up appointment may be required. Preventative measures, however, are unquestionably superior to life-threatening conditions and urgent surgery (and rehabilitation) to remove foreign objects from your pet’s digestive system.