A dog with abnormal appetite that left the pooch with "rock hard abs" underwent emergency surgery at BluePearl Veterinary hospital in Eden Prairie on Wednesday to remove 16 rocks weighing almost 2 lbs.
The 7-year-old golden retriever named Gordon likely ate river rocks out of a garden, but the dog's owner was perplexed by the pooch's stony meal since food is always accessible.
Dr. Jeff Yu performed the successful two-hour operation.
"You don't see too many dogs eat this many rocks usually," Yu remarked. "Most dogs will stop after one or two, but Gordon certainly had quite the hankering."
Gordon is expected to make a full recovery.
According to the ASPCA, pica -- consuming non-food items -- is a disorder that can arise in pets and may be a sign that a dog's diet is lacking in a nutrient. It can also be a sign of a digestive disorder, a parasitic infestation, a metabolic disorder, or poisoning.
Pica usually occurs in puppies and young dogs that are bored, but it can develop into compulsive behavior. In pets that seem frequently and intensely motivated to find and eat specific inedible objects, special training may be needed to correct that behavior.
Resolving compulsive pica is best accomplished with the help of a certified applied animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.
Dog owners can also discourage or manage pica using the following strategies:
- Provide lots of mental and physical exercise involving a variety of toys
- Prevent access to nonfood items by dog-proofing common areas
- Monitor dogs closely on walks and in areas where non-edible temptations may be
- Quickly and gently remove any non-food item a dog tries to eat and dispose of it
- Teach the "leave it" and "drop it" cues
- Consider applying a taste deterrent, like finely ground black pepper
- Use a basket muzzle, which allow dogs to pant and drink, to limit access
- Try to teach a new behavior, like barking or sitting, when near a nonfood item
- Use a punishment device that can be activated remotely
- Find Professional Help for Pica: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help