Posted on: 29 December 2020
Anyone who makes the decision to welcome a dog into their family will know (or will quickly learn) that not all their possessions will survive. Whether it's a shoe, or a curious pooch ripping open the sofa cushions to see what's inside, dogs have a tendency to chew on things they shouldn't. This behaviour can be corrected with training, but it's a different story when your dog actually begins to eat things that they shouldn't.
The regular consumption of non-food items is known as pica. This condition (which also exists in humans) involves the chewing, swallowing, and digestion of inedible items. It's broadly a psychological condition, though the consequences can be potentially lethal. A dog's digestive tract can be severely damaged by pica, resulting in ulcers and serious gastrointestinal disorders. Your dog's body cannot properly process many of the items they may consume, and their digestive system can become compromised.
Treatment for pica can involve urgent medical intervention if your dog was to consume a poisonous item, but behaviour modification training can help to overcome the problem. The direct causes of pica cannot easily be identified, but it's thought to be a response to stress, so any causes of anxiety and depression need to be addressed. Having said that, there are some aspects of pica that can be traced to a nutritional deficiency.
Grass and Soil
Dogs who consume grass will often do so for innocent, unremarkable reasons. It might be a form of self-medication, to induce vomiting if they feel unwell. It can also be a desperate need to make up for a nutritional deficiency, as your dog instinctively seeks out accessible sources of fibre. Likewise, a dog who regularly consumes soil might be doing so because of a mineral deficiency.
As far as pica can afflict a dog, consuming grass and soil isn't going to be especially dangerous (depending on the quantities consumed), but it can be a clear indicator that their pet food is failing to meet their nutritional needs. You should discuss the matter with your vet and determine a new dietary plan for your dog. Your vet might wish to run certain tests (such as a complete blood count) to clearly identify your dog's exact nutritional deficiencies. Your vet can recommend a specific type of pet food that will meet your dog's needs, or will give you clear instructions about how to assemble a nutritionally sound diet plan for your dog.
While eating potentially poisonous items is a cause for concern, pica that manifests itself as the consumption of grass and soil can indicate that your dog's food needs an upgrade.Share