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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 32867
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 3yr old bishon frise, has started to eat soil. She is happy

Customer Question

My 3yr old bishon frise, has started to eat soil. She is happy and healthy, she was worked 2wks the tabs were from my vets. Can you help?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with Izzy. There are a surprising number of causes for this behavior which we term pica. Gastrointestinal disorders, dental and oral disease, central nervous system disturbances such as brain tumors or hydrocephalus, electrolyte imbalances, metabolic diseases, and toxins such as lead can induce licking, sucking, chewing, and picas (ingestion of inanimate objects), licking of owners, and air licking. Picas may also be caused by excessive restriction of calories (i.e. weight loss diets) and any medical condition that could cause polyphagia (increased hunger). Licking, chewing, polyphagia, polydipsia, and picas can also be a side effect of drug therapy. (In geriatric pets, repetitive behaviors including licking, chewing, and picas might be associated with brain aging and cognitive dysfunction.)

Broad spectrum worming was certainly appropriate but I would proceed with a diagnostic gastrointestinal panel of blood/urine tests which includes a TLI blood test for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (a lack of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas) and a specCPL blood test for an underlying pancreatitis. Significant oral disease is unlikely at Izzy's age and her behavior doesn't suggest a central nervous system disorder/encephalopathy (brain disorder). If she's been maintaining her weight, there's no reason to assume that she's calorically restricted.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.