By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In this week’s CBS3 Pet Project, animal advocate Carol Erickson discusses something called Pica. She said this is when your pet eats something that is not edible and can be disgusting.

Erickson says this is a compulsive behavior and it’s very hard to treat. It can cause a serious blockage in digestive tracts, whatever the item is can also get tangled in your pet’s intestines and become unable for them to pass. That could even lead to surgery.

A few causes can be boredom, seeing another animal do it and also the fear of punishment.

For instance, an animal may have a housebreaking accident and end up eating the evidence just to avoid being punished.

A couple of ideas to help your pet from doing that includes exercise and mental stimulation, enriching their environment along with offering safe toys to help distract them.

Erickson also suggests teaching “leave it,” and substitute that with an object that they may like.

Some signs your pet may have a blockage are vomiting, diarrhea, straining, loss of appetite, drooling and lethargy.

Erickson says if you notice any of these, get your pet to the vet.

Watch the video to hear more from this week’s segment.