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First Posted: Aug 21, 2008
Dec 31, 2013

Pica and Nutritional Deficiencies in Horses/Unusual Eating Habits

"Pica, or depraved appetite, refers to the eating of materials other than normal food. This behavior can range from licking to actually eating foreign substances, and can be classified according to the type of material involved. Some of the more common types are: osteophagia, the chewing of bones; coprophagia, the eating of feces; lignophagia, the chewing and eating of wood; and geophagia, the eating of soil or sand. These behaviors can lead to serious and even fatal digestive complications, and therefore should not be taken lightly..." Pica in Horses is an excellent article.

Some possible causes of these unusual eating patterns:
  • Nutritional imbalances
  • Soil with elevated mineral content such as iron or copper
  • Boredom
  • High parasite load

Symptoms for concern:

  • Change in stool consistency such as diarrhea
  • Colic
  • Digenstive problems of any kind.
  • High parasite load

For More Information:

Unusual Eating Behaviors in Horses Explained
Nutritional Deficiencies are clearly defined in the Merck Vet Manual.

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