Unusual eating habits & digestive problems in pets: Our pet expert advises!

Ever wondered why your dog or cat eats strange things? Are you at your wits end about what to do to stop your cat throwing up all the time? Dirt, cardboard, wool, grass or poop are just a few of our beloved pet’s favourite things to eat. We humans often find our pet’s taste and cravings in certain objects and non-food items baffling, even slightly bizarre! Let’s take a look at the unusual eating habits and behaviour in pets and understand what these cravings mean.

1. Non-food objects, also called Pica

Dogs and cats can often be found eating non-food objects, also defined as pica such as socks, shoes, underwear, rubber bands, string or rocks. The reason why some animals eat these objects can be due to a number of reasons such as attention-seeking behaviour, frustration, anxiety, neurosis or malnutrition. It is also sometimes simply part of play behaviour – puppies and kittens love to play, chew and suckle on different types of objects.

Puppies, for instance are drawn to anything that smells interesting and will tuck into dirty socks or garbage. Kittens will devour tinsel, string or rubber bands as eagerly as they’ll eat a mouse.  Some young kittens will also suckle on objects such as blankets or their owner’s fingers, hair, clothing or toys. This sucking behaviour is usually a sign that kittens have been weaned too young. All these items can damage your pet’s intestines when ingested, result in bowel obstructions or poisoning. It can be potentially life threatening and in severe cases, speaking to your vet or animal behaviourist will help.

Cathy Advises:

It is not always easy to resolve this type of problem if the cause is not identified. Pet owners should try to prevent access to items that their pets want to eat. Be careful about where you place objects and make sure that they are out of Fido or Felix’s reach. Make sure that your pet has appropriate toys to play with to prevent boredom. Another handy tip is to make the object that your pet wants to eat taste unpleasant – sprinkle cayenne pepper over your favourite shoes and socks.

You may need to  speak to your vet about changing your pet’s diet diet. They could be deficient in certain minerals and may need to switch to a more balanced, nutritious diet. Natural diets for pets such as Doggobone Raw Active Food and Vondi’s cooked foods may be just the dietary change needed to decrease your dog or cat’s strange eating behaviour. These foods are available from Feelgood Heath, Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake, Cape Town or call 021 797 0193. 

In cases where your pet may be anxious or frustrated, certain behaviour modification techniques should be introduced. For example, bored pets can be walked or played with more often or toys could be introduced.  Natural remedies can also help to soothe anxious or stressed pdogs or cats.  In the Feelgood Pets PetAlive range, we have a natural remedy called PetCalm -  a 100% homeopathic solution which calms and soothes anxious and stressed pets.
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -   

2. Dirt

It’s common to see dogs playing or rolling around in the dirt. It may be a bit worrying if you see your dog pal eating dirt isn’t it?  While dirt does contain a few minerals such as zinc, iron, potassium and magnesium, it doesn’t digest properly in the system. Basically, it is quite harmless but if your dog eats dirt regularly, then it can become quite dangerous. Dirt can contain faecal matter from other animals which is a sure way for your dog to develop all types of horrid parasites. Have you noticed how dogs that are sick are always chomping on dirt? This usually happens because there is a nutritional imbalance.  

Cathy Avises:

The only way to prevent your dog from playing in dirt is keep him away from an area where there is soil or mud - this is not always possible! Try to prevent access to areas in your garden or yard where your dog could eat dirt. If he has been eating dirt, he may need a good detox.
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -   

3. Poop

‘Why does my dog eat poop?’ you may ask! Dogs sometimes eat their own poop or the poop of another animal the behaviour is known as coprophagy. This behaviour is quite common amongst dogs and it’s not necessarily harmful to them either. Dog owners are usually grossed out and find the behaviour unacceptable.  Many dogs eat poop to seek attention, out of boredom, curiosity or the behaviour may be learnt from another dog.

Experts believe that coprophagy is reinforced because it is normal parental behaviour to eat the waste of the offspring. It has also been suggested that animals that live in small, confined environments and don’t receive lots of attention from their owners will sometimes eat their poop. Dogs that are highly motivated by food also tend to eat poop more.

Cathy Advises:

Verbally scolding or punishment your dog will not help and in most instances, the behaviour is reinforced and will occur more often. Dogs often interpret scolding as a sign of attention, so the more you scold them, the more they are likely to repeat the behaviour. The easiest solution is to clean and pick up the poop in your garden or outside area daily to reduce your dog’s craving to indulge in coprophagy. Your dog may also eat cat poop – in this case, make sure that the litter box is also cleaned daily. It is very important to make sure that your dog’s immune system is strong to prevent any diseases even if he is eating poop. 

Keep your dog parasite-free ! A dog that is eating his own poop will not be infected with parasites. However, if your dog is eating the poop of another dog that has parasites, your pet may be at risk of being infected. Use a natural de-wormer such as Vondi's Diatomaceous Earth which is gentle and safe for your dog. Vondi's Diatomaceous Earth helps to expel internal parasites and promotes digestive health. 
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -   

4. Grass

Cats enjoy frolicking in the garden, tucking into some grass and then throwing it up. Dogs will also chew on grass and then vomit it up. Studies show that this habit is actually good for their health. Cats and other animals eat fur, feathers and bones which are indigestible – and, eating grass helps to induce vomiting which cleans their stomach and prevents intestinal blockage and laceration. When they eat grass, the fine hairs on the grass tickle their throats and make them throw up – a way of naturally purging their system! We may find this habit disgusting but it is actually very clever of our pets to do this!

Cathy Advises:

If you are a cat or dog lover that loves indoor plants, then it would be best that you make sure that your house plants are pet friendly.  Grow grass in a pot for cats or dogs with a green tongue and which can be kept indoors – your furry friend will be eternally grateful! Natural remedies such as Digestive Support will also benefit your pet’s digestive system. Digestive Support improves digestive functioning in pets.
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -   

5. Eating issues

Just like children are fussy eaters, so are pets. Some dogs and cats that are very spoilt and pampered may turn up their noses for certain foods. For instance, your cat may refuse to eat canned cat food because she thinks she’s too good for it and go on a food strike until she gets what she wants.

On the other hand, some pets may refuse to eat because of major health problems such as tooth or mouth infection, digestive issues or neurological disease. When pets are ill or recovering from an illness, their appetites are quite poor. Sometimes, the problem may simply be the food that you are giving your pet. At this time it is acceptable to spoil them with a bit of “people food” just to get them eating. Scrambled egg, cottage cheese, roast chicken, pilchards, canned tuna or mincemeat are some of the things that may tempt them. Pets, like people also get tired of eating the same food all the time.

Cathy Advises:

If your pet is spoiled and pampered and has you on a string, you will have to decide whether you are prepared to continue dancing around him with luxuries just to get him to eat. If not, you may need to consult an animal behaviourist to help you to break the cycle. No animal will starve itself in the end but as we are usually the ones who have caused the problem, it is usually us that needs help to change things!

If your pet usually has a good appetite, but is not eating as he usually does, you need to monitor how long it lasts. If it’s only for a day, that is usually fine but if they are not eating by breakfast time the next day, you should consult your vet. Pets who are ill or recovering should be fed palatable food that can be warmed a bit to entice them to eat, because it is their sense of smell which makes food more appetising. Dogs and cats should be fed a healthy, balanced diet and provided with fresh water daily. Occasional treats such as dog biscuits or raw hide are always welcomed. 
HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here -   

 

Previous post Next Post

Comments

Leave a comment