Pica is an abnormal ingestive behavior in which non-food items are consumed whereas Coprophagia is a form of pica in which feces is consumed.
Pathophysiology of pica: The pathophysiology of pica is unclear. Coprophagia is not usually a pathologic condition. Pica is a sign that may be associated with a variety of different conditions. Any medical condition leading to nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte
imbalances, gastrointestinal disturbances, polyphagia, or CNS disturbances may lead to pica and coprophagia. Severely calorie restricted diets or imbalanced diets leading to insufficiencies may also lead to pica or coprophagia as suggested by Pet Prime veterinary clinic, best pet hospital in Gurugram. Coprophagia is common in dogs but rare in cats.
Physical Examination Findings: Halitosis if coprophagia is the presenting problem. Dental trauma if the dog targets hard objects. Pallor or weakness if anemia is a contributing condition. Poor body condition if malabsorption or maldigestion is a contributing condition. Neurologic signs if caused by neurologic diseases.
Coprophagia may be considered a normal exploratory behavior in puppies. It has been postulated that the high levels of deoxycholic acid in feces may contribute to neurologic development. It is normal for dogs to seek out cat feces because it is high in protein its odor and taste may also be appealing. Dogs on highly restricted diets may have a voracious appetite, leading to coprophagia and pica as suggested by Pet Prime veterinary clinic (pet clinic near me). Feces may be appetizing to some dogs, so that the behavior might be self-rewarding. Dogs that have been punished for eliminating in the house could learn to eat their own feces in an apparent attempt to avoid punishment. Coprophagia may occur as a form of attention-seeking behavior if a dog learns that the behavior reliably leads to immediate owner attention. Coprophagia may also develop as a response to anxiety. Pica may occur secondarily to stealing behavior when the dog is highly motivated to prevent the owner from retrieving the stolen object or when the object has ingestive appeal. Pica may develop as a result of anxiety that leads to destruction and then consumption of an item.
Medical Causes of pica and coprophagia: Anemia, Malnutrition leading to Polyphagia, Endocrinopathies, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism, Maldigestion/malabsorption (e.g., exocrine pancreatic insufficiency), Inflammatory bowel disease, Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, Central nervous system disease and Intestinal parasitism may lead to pica and coprophagia.
How to prevent pica and coprophagia: Prevent access to non-food items that are likely targets. Confine the animal away from targeted non-food items. Change to a diet higher in fiber. Provide feeding toys and acceptable foraging opportunities (e.g., green plants such as grass or catnip for cats). Teach dogs a “Drop it” or “Leave it” command so the owner can prevent consumption of inappropriate items. Prevent access to feces. Walk dog on leash and pick up feces immediately.
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