Biological trace element research2010; 139(3); 301-307; doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8660-y

Changes in serum mineral concentrations, biochemical and hematological parameters in horses with pica.

Abstract: The aim of this study was to compare hematological, some biochemical parameters, and serum trace element concentrations in horses with or without pica. Fifteen horses with pica (group I) and another 15 healthy horses without pica (group II) were used. The hematological parameters were not changed between the two groups. In group I, hemoglobin values were lower than those of group II. However, the difference in hemoglobin values between the two groups was not significant (P > 0.05). Serum iron and copper concentrations and the copper/zinc ratio were lower in group I than those of group II (P  0.05). It was concluded that serum iron and copper deficiency may play an important role for the etiology of pica in horses. Prophylactic use of iron and copper supplements in horses may be beneficial to prevent pica.
Publication Date: 2010-03-09 PubMed ID: 20213346DOI: 10.1007/s12011-010-8660-yGoogle Scholar: Lookup
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The study explores the comparison between horses with and without pica in relation to their hematological, biochemical parameters, and serum trace element concentrations. It concludes that deficiencies in serum iron and copper might be significant factors in the occurrence of pica in horses, suggesting that preventive use of these supplements could be beneficial.

Overview of the Research

This research was conducted to understand the impact of pica, a condition where animals imbibe non-nutritive substances, on horses. By considering various blood and physiological parameters and levels of serum minerals, the researchers compared groups of horses with and without pica.


  • Two groups of 15 horses were used for the study. The first group consisted of horses exhibiting pica (referred to as “group I”), and the second group consisted of healthy horses that were not exhibiting pica (referred to as “group II”).
  • Hematological and biochemical parameters, as well as serum trace element concentrations, were studied and compared between the two groups.


  • The study found no significant difference in the hematological parameters between the two groups.
  • It was observed that hemoglobin values in group I (horses with pica) were lower compared to those of group II (healthy horses). However, this difference was not statistically significant.
  • The researchers found lower serum iron and copper concentrations, and a decreased copper/zinc ratio in horses with pica compared to the healthy group. These differences were statistically significant.
  • Other biochemical parameters did not exhibit a significant difference between the two groups.


The researchers concluded that deficiencies in serum iron and copper could be important factors contributing to the occurrence of pica in horses. This finding suggests that the preventive use of iron and copper supplements could possibly avoid the development of pica in horses. However, the study notes that this conclusion is based only on observed correlations and further research would be necessary to definitively establish causation.

Cite This Article

Aytekin I, Onmaz AC, Aypak SU, Gunes V, Kucuk O. (2010). Changes in serum mineral concentrations, biochemical and hematological parameters in horses with pica. Biol Trace Elem Res, 139(3), 301-307.


ISSN: 1559-0720
NlmUniqueID: 7911509
Country: United States
Language: English
Volume: 139
Issue: 3
Pages: 301-307

Researcher Affiliations

Aytekin, Ismail
  • Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Mustafa Kemal, Hatay, Turkey.
Onmaz, Ali Cesur
    Aypak, Serap Unubol
      Gunes, Vehbi
        Kucuk, Osman

          MeSH Terms

          • Animals
          • Blood Chemical Analysis
          • Female
          • Horses / blood
          • Humans
          • Male
          • Minerals / blood
          • Pica / blood
          • Trace Elements / blood


          This article has been cited 1 times.
          1. Harvey AM, Ramp D, Mellor DJ. Review of the Foundational Knowledge Required for Assessing Horse Welfare.. Animals (Basel) 2022 Dec 1;12(23).
            doi: 10.3390/ani12233385pubmed: 36496906google scholar: lookup