Animal Update: Looking For Pica In Pets And How To Treat It

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— If a remote control looks appetizing to your pet (or dirt, rocks or any assortment of other non-nutritive things) it may be because they are suffering from a disorder called pica, which can actually affect humans too.

Dr. Jennifer Scarlett of the San Francisco SPCA said that the disorder can either be behavioral or gastrointestinal.

“There was a theory years ago that we were missing some nutrient and that’s why people or animals were eating dirt, but more and more it seems like it’s an attention-seeking disorder, frustration, anxiety (if it’s behavioral), or some GI (gastrointestinal) upset. Chronic diarrhea is a reason why an animal might start to eat dirt or clay.

One of the original ingredients in Kaopectate was a mineral from clay, Scarlett added.

If you think your animal or pet may be suffering from pica, you should first be sure you have a real case on your hands. Dr. Scarlett reminds us that one incidence does not mean your animal has the disorder.

However, if the behavior is repeated and they are constantly eating the same item, like a blanket or whatever, take it to your veterinarian for them to assess. They can then prescribe appropriate medication.

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