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Postby Zhuyos mom » Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:58 am

Pica has only been touched upon on this forum casually twice. Tiggy suffers from Pica and can dangerously lead to death by bloat. So below is an article on the condition. (Coprophagia is a condition where dogs eat feces)

Permission to cross-post from WHOLE DOG JOURNAL:

Publication: Whole Dog Journal
Publication Date: 01-DEC-06
Author: Puotinen, C.J.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Belvoir Media Group, LLC

Eeek! Don't eat that! Dealing with dogs with pica or coprophagia.(PREVENTION)

Anorexia, bulimia, and weird pregnancy cravings are common in humans, but did you know dogs have eating disorders, too?

Dogs with pica (pronounced PIE-kuh) consume indigestible nonfood items like rocks, concrete, wrought iron, glass, ice, coins, screws, upholstery stuffing, batteries, soda cans, gravel, dirt, clay, and other objects. Young puppies often chew on inappropriate items in an effort to ease the discomfort of teething; this is different. Adolescent and adult dogs who exhibit pica compulsively chew and consume inappropriate items, sometimes resulting in their deaths.

Chewing hard or sharp objects can damage teeth, gums, or digestive organs. Objects that become stuck or cause blockage can require surgery. And items containing zinc or other toxic minerals can poison the dog.

Dog owners more frequently complain about another disturbing habit of canine consumption: coprophagia (pronounced cop-ra-FAY-jee-a) or "dung eating." Though dogs with coprophagia may eat only deer droppings, cat box contents, horse manure and the like, people are most horrified (and frustrated) with dogs who eat their own or other dogs' stools. Bleh!

What causes these eating disorders, and what can be done about them?

Most veterinarians consider pica and coprophagia behavioral problems having nothing to do with nutrition because their patients are fed a 100-percent nutritionally complete canned or packaged dog food.

But while it's true that you are what you eat, it's even more true that you are what you absorb, and not every dog has a perfect digestive tract. In many cases, improving a dog's diet and/or digestion has resulted in significant behavior changes. In addition to using positive reinforcement to encourage dogs to consume appropriate food items and leave other things alone, a few simple adjustments to the dog's daily fare may solve the problem.

A closer look at pica

When pica is caused by a nutritional deficiency or imbalance, other symptoms accompany the condition. In the May 1996 Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Martin Schulman, VMD, reported that mineral deficiencies often contribute to the development of seizures.

In a review of the medical histories of patients diagnosed with epilepsy in his clinic, Dr. Schulman discovered that an "astonishingly high percentage" showed significant manifestations of pica. In one case, a female German Shepherd Dog had a history of licking wrought iron and eating Christmas tree lights and glass. Treating the patient with an improved diet supplemented with plant-derived colloidal minerals, digestive enzymes, and probiotic foods cured the pica within 21 days, and the dog had no additional seizures.

Other conditions that can coincide with pica include hair loss, dry or flaky skin or coat, pigment problems, infertility, eclampsia or other problems with pregnancy or whelping, birth defects, bone and growth problems, anemia, fatigue, muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, respiratory illnesses, allergies, digestive disorders, immune system problems, slow wound healing, glandular disorders, and chronic ill health.

Advocates of home-prepared diets often claim that a well-balanced raw diet eliminates or prevents pica, but occasionally the condition occurs even in well-fed dogs.

In Riverside, California, Jacki Panzik has been breeding Standard Poodles for 15 years, feeding a raw diet and using minimal vaccinations. She recently dealt with two litters born within a month of each other that were sired by the same stud dog, in which the puppies at age 12 to 16 weeks showed symptoms of pica, including the consumption of dirt.

"Pica is often demonstrated in autistic children," she says. "I am in the field of alternative medicine, and I see a lot of similarities between the physical condition of some dogs today and autistic children."

Panzik and her husband do energy balancing, so they worked with the pups and their sire energetically to correct the problem's underlying causes. In addition, they suggested adding bone meal to the diet fed to the pups. Within a week, the puppies from both litters stopped eating dirt.

Wendy Volhard, author of the bestselling Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog, has observed symptoms of pica in dogs who have a tendency to bloat. "When they are outside and a bloating episode is about to start," she says, "you sometimes find them eating grass, leaves, and dirt without stopping. If confined indoors, they may eat the fringes of carpets, curtains, and whatever else they can reach. This is true aberrant eating behavior, and in every case I have observed, the result has been bloat."

Years ago, Volhard's Briard, DJ, was with her at a training camp, and when she returned to her room after teaching a class, she was horrified to find DJ pulling curtains through the top of his wire crate. He had swallowed more than half of one before she could get him out and untangle the mess.

DJ was the portrait of a dog going into bloat as he stood panting with his head down and his left side brick-hard and slightly protruding. Volhard treated him homeopathically and did acupressure on his stomach meridian while someone drove them to the nearest veterinarian. The examination and x-rays showed that DJ had suffered no damage, but he went on to experience several more episodes, including one in which he ate large quantities of autumn leaves.

"We went back and forth to the vet many times," says Volhard, "and each time he was okay. Taking care of it is one thing, but I wanted to stop it entirely. I discovered that dogs with this condition seem to respond very well to the addition of hydrochloric acid and pepsin at every meal.

"This made me think that they don't have the capacity to make enough stomach acid to break down their food. In my experience, adding this simple supplement has been very successful in stopping pica. In DJ's case, a hydrochloric acid and pepsin capsule twice a day in his meals, plus a spleen glandular supplement during the change of seasons, did the trick. It took some trial and error but he never again had a problem with bloat or showed any symptoms of pica."

Other methods

Homeopathy has helped some dogs with pica or coprophagia. In classical homeopathy, remedies are prescribed individually according to each patient's history and symptoms. For best results, consult a veterinary homeopath.

Acupressure, acupuncture, and herbs have also helped. In her book Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs, Cheryl Schwartz, DVM, describes excessive appetite and the eating of strange things as symptoms of "excessive stomach fire" associated with the liver and gall bladder.

Dr. Schwartz explains how to treat the problem by holding key acupuncture points. She also recommends 2 to 3 dropperfuls each of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), burdock (Arctium lappa), and wood betony (Betonica officinalis) tinctures for medium and large dogs, twice daily, plus 2 to 3 teaspoons of strongly brewed chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) tea twice daily with food. Small dogs receive 1 dropperful of each tincture and 1 teaspoon chamomile tea.

Some people have successfully trained their dogs to stop eating fecal matter, rocks, and other objects using various methods--at least, as long as they were present and vigilant. In general, though, most owners have learned that managing the dog's habit by simply keeping him away from the forbidden treats will be more fruitful, and less frustrating, than positive or negative training methods. And the various health-based strategies described above provide more reliable results.

There may be no simple cure for pica or coprophagia, but the potential for relief from these disturbing habits makes trying a few of these treatments definitely worth the effort.

Resources to Stop Pica and Coprophagia


The following books are all available from from DogWise (dogwise.com 800-776-2665) and other booksellers.

The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, by Juliette de Baracli Levy. Faber & Faber, 1992.

Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs, by Cheryl Schwartz, DVM. Celestial Arts, 1996.

Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life, by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. Published by the author, 1993.


Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, (866) 652-1590, theavh.org

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, ahvma.org, holisticvetlist.com

Jacki Panzik, Poodle Dog, poodledog.com

Wendy Volhard, Volhard Top Dog Training and Nutrition, volhard.com


Canine Medicine Chest. Products for eating disorders include Pro-Bac probiotics, Systemajuv herbal remedy, Concentrated Trace Minerals, and Canine Vita Pak or Super Vita Puppy. Information at petmedicinechest.com. Free phone consultation (712) 644-3535 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM CST.

Deter Coprophagia Treatment, Eight in One, eightinonepet.com. Sold by veterinarians and pet supply companies.

For-Bid, Alpar Labs. Sold by Biovets.com (800-447-1366, biovets.com) and other pet supply companies.

Prozyme. Free sample available from Prozyme Products, (800) 522-5537, prozymeproducts.com

Seacure. Proper Nutrition, Inc. (800) 555-8868, propernutrition.com.

SEP (Stop Eating Poop), Solid Gold Pet Products. Available from solidgoldhealth.com and pet supply stores.

Standard Process Min-Tran Minerals, Canine Whole Body Support powder, and Zypan hydrochloric acid-enzyme tablets. Information at standardprocess.com. Product available from licensed healthcare practitioners; ask your veterinarian.

What you can do ...

* Upgrade your dog's diet by replacing his grain-based kibble with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate food.

* Consider giving your dog a raw diet that includes whole or ground raw bone.

* Supplement your dog's food with enzymes, probiotics, minerals, and other products that improve digestion and assimilation.

* Pick up after your dog and other dogs in your area. Use a covered cat box or keep your cat's box where your dog can't reach it.

A long-time contributor to WDJ and author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats, and other books, CJ Puotinen lives in New York with her husband, a Lab, and a tabby cat.

COPYRIGHT 2006 Belvoir Media Group, LLC

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Re: Pica

Postby janet » Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:28 pm

thank you. that was both very interesting and quite informative.
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Re: Pica

Postby jacqui » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:25 pm

thats a great article.thank you.
Kito Feb 4, 2006 - July 1,2007
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And when my time comes I will not go alone for my Chows will be there to say "Welcome Home".

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Re: Pica

Postby kingalls » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:38 pm

Pica? Okay :-? that explains a couple of Tigger's recent adventures. Are you trying some of the suggested preventative measures? Give Tigg's a big hug from us!
Just curious if the other Shakespeare chowlings have shown this tendency as well?
Karen, Kohana, Takoda, and our Chow Angels Nahkohe and Shiloh

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Zhuyos mom
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Re: Pica

Postby Zhuyos mom » Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:46 pm

Yes. Horrors! This weekend I ordered HCL & pepsin capsules, spleen glandular supplements and probiotics for the Tiggs.

The surviving 6 all have the same habit of gardening, eatting way too fast and the such. I have not asked them about any of the specific Pica symptoms. I sorta want to get Tiggy on the supplements first and see if it works okay. Plus, once Bruin goes to his forever home, Tiggy will be going through new stressors with the loss of his play buddy. So I do want to wait till I get these supplements in his system before I cause panic with the other parents. I'm pretty sure if the others showed the same extreme Pica symptoms Tiggy has, they would have contacted me pretty quickly to ask me what's up with their Shakespeare chow. We're lucky we all have each other to compare notes. Not all rescued chowlings have that luxury.

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Re: Pica

Postby gingerb612 » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:41 pm

I am a desperate owner of a great dobbie with pica.
I adopted him because his previous owners wanted to sacrifice him because of his eating troubles, he had one year old and had 6 surgeries.
I had him for one year now, yesterday he had the second surgery with me, last july he ate lots of grass and obstructed his own intestines... two days ago my little schnauzer help him taking the laundry, so he ate 3 pieces of cloths... I made him vomit and took 2 pieces but it was late for the other one. So yesterday he had his eight surgery...
From now on he is going to eat just soft food because his abdomen cavity is full of adhesions from all the previous surgeries...

Everyday he goes and runs for an hour in the morning, at evening we go to a walk. He eats 3 times a day... He goes to agility classes, he sleeps with me...

I want to know if someone knows something else i can do to help my great dog with his big problem...

Thank you very much
Maria Rosa from Mexico City

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