What are Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects?
Possible symptoms of pica may include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Pica and coprophagia may have medical or behavioral causes. As such, treatment varies, but will likely include diet or behavior modification, or treatment of any underlying issues causing the condition. Continuing management should include reducing access to the item(s) being consumed. Coprophagia refers to the eating of feces. Some cases are behavioral problems, though there are a variety of medical problems that can cause your dog to eat feces. Pica, alternatively, refers to eating non-food substances. Like coprophagia, pica can have behavioral roots (such as gaining attention, boredom), can be accidental, and may have medical causes.
Pica refers to the consumption of non-food objects. Coprophagia is a form of pica that deals specifically with the consumption of feces. It is important to take your dog to the veterinarian to verify the cause of this condition, in order to rule out a serious underlying disease.
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Symptoms of Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble pooping or small feces creation
- Changes in behavior, specifically when handled around the stomach
- Coprophagia - The eating of feces is a particular type of pica. Coprophagia can be caused by medical problems that lead to decreased nutrition absorption, causes gastrointestinal problems, or leads to an increase in the appeal of stool. Coprophagia is common in puppies and the problem usually resolves by adulthood.
- Pica - Pica is the consumption of non-food objects. Some of the causes of pica may include medical problems, attention-seeking behavior, boredom, a behavior carried over from youth, and accidental consumption when trying to play or investigate an object.
Causes of Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs
- Decreased nutrition absorption, usually the result of a diet that is hard to digest, underfeeding, and medical conditions such as digestive enzyme deficiencies or parasites. Additionally, feces with large amounts of undigested food are more likely to be consumed. Diseases that may cause an increase in appetite, such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease, or treatment with certain drugs can lead to feces consumption.
- Specific causes of pica aren’t totally known or proven. It is believed to be behavior-focused, in which any social interaction (even scolding) between the animal and owner can reinforce the behavior. Others believe it is the result of lacking nutrition in the diet. It may also be the result of frustration or anxiety, or even as a form of play.
Diagnosis of Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs
The veterinary team will ask you questions about the recent behavior of your dog. It is important to relay all of the information you may have that may help the team diagnose this disorder. Has your pet just started this behavior? What type of diet do you feed him? How is his appetite?
- Physical exam
- Stool testing
- Blood tests
- Physical exam
- X-rays of the stomach
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
Treatment of Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs
- Preventing pet’s access to stool through thorough cleaning and supervision when outside
- Training can help to change the behavior of feces consumption
- Change of diet so that the diet is more digestible or adding in different protein sources
- Addition of enzyme supplements may assist in nutrition digestion and absorption
- Other possible dietary additions include papaya, yogurt, cottage cheese, or Certs breath mints, though these have never been proven to be effective
- Stool softeners may deter dogs, as they prefer feces that is well-formed
- The consumption of foreign bodies has the potential to be significantly more serious than coprophagia, as consumption of feces doesn’t really harm the dog, as it is easily digestible. Depending on what the foreign body is, treatment may vary. In most cases, though, exploratory surgery is suggested.
- If the foreign body is able to pass on its own, your veterinarian may suggest hospitalization for monitoring.
- Surgery may be required to avoid serious complications of the foreign body consumption.
- If symptoms relate to an underlying problem, these additional issues will require treatment as well.
Recovery of Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs
Steps for recovery and management rely primarily on addressing the source of the condition. If nutrition-related, adjustments to diet will be necessary to deter the behavior. If behavior-related, training and deterrence may be necessary. There are options to aid in the disruption of these behaviors.
- Treat your pet’s food with something that causes the stool to taste bad
- Apply something to the stool itself to make it taste bad
- Keep your dog leashed and supervised when taking outside
- Clean your yard regularly so that there is no remaining stool to be consumed
- Reduce overall exposure to feces
- Apply something to the objects your dog is eating to give them an unpleasant taste
- Reduce access to the items being consumed
- If anxiety or frustration may be the cause of pica, use behavior modification techniques to change the behavior
- If the dog is ingesting items for attention, startle them
- If the dog’s pica behavior is play-related, make sure there are plenty of toys accessible
Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
She ate a pork bone
If the bone wasn’t cooked, it may pass with some discomfort; if the bone was cooked you should visit your Veterinarian immediately as sharp edges or breakage of the bone may rupture the gastrointestinal tract. The size of the bone in relation to Duchess's size is important too; either way it would be best to see your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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