Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?


“What the heck do you have in your mouth?” is something all of us are familiar with, as we chase our dog around trying to figure out what they’ve gotten into this time.

And as it turns out, dirt is a common culprit. Why do dogs eat dirt? Well there’s a couple common causes we’ll go over in this article, when it’s cause for concern, and how to stop the behavior.

Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

The most common causes for dogs eating dirt are mineral deficiencies, medical issues, and boredom and/or behavioral issues.

If your dog is eating dirt it’s important to take note of any changes in their behavior or environment. Since eating dirt can be a sign of a medical problem or mineral deficiency it’s important to figure out the reason behind it with a trip to the veterinarian.

Mineral Deficiencies Can Cause a Dog to Eat Dirt

Not all dog foods are the same, and not all foods provide the same level of nutrients for your dog, and dogs with hormonal issues might have trouble absorbing all the minerals and nutrients they need.

If your dogs diet is lacking any minerals they might start eating dirt as a way to make up for those nutritional deficiencies.

Since dietary deficiencies aren’t necessarily easy to recognize you should take a trip to your veterinarian for further analysis.

They’ll be able to rule out other medical issues for the dirt eating, as well as recommend a food brand or diet that can help make up for those nutrient deficiencies.

Medical Issues Can Cause Dogs to Eat Dirt

Dirt eating in dogs can be a sign of a medical problem. Anemia, malnutrition & stomach issues can cause Pica, which is defined as having an appetite for non-nutritious substances.

Pica isn’t just an odd behavior limited to dogs either. Having an appetite for non food items is commonly seen in pregnant women and small children, though dogs can develop it as well.

In addition to Pica, Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and thyroid issues are just a few of the major medical issues that can lead to dogs developing an increased and unusual appetite.

If your dog is eating dirt book an appointment with your veterinarian so they can diagnose and/or rule out any major medical problems.

Boredom or Behavioral Issues Can Make Dogs Eat Dirt

If you don’t give your dog enough physical and mental exercise throughout the day they will come up with their own solutions to burn off that energy, and it often includes eating and chewing on all sorts of things.

If you’ve caught your dog digging and chewing on dirt in the backyard it might not necessarily be pica; it might just be that your dog is bored.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to get dirt all over their faces when in the midst of a digging session. So unless you see your dog out in the yard ingesting dirt you might want to try redirecting them from their digging by adding in a few more play sessions to their daily routine.

Not sure where to start? If your dog needs more physical exercise I recommend a flirt pole or game or frisbee. If you suspect your dog needs more mental stimulation you can try Kong Stuffing, trick training, or letting your dog sniff more on walks.

Is Eating Dirt Bad For Dogs?

Eating dirt can cause numerous issues in dogs. Not only is it a choking hazard, but it can cause life threatening obstructions. There’s also the worry of any toxins or pesticides in the dirt.

If your dog is eating dirt frequently or exhibiting any other behavioral changes it’s important to take them to the vet to determine the underlying cause and correcting their diet if need be.

If your dog is playing around in the dirt and you suspect it’s out of boredom you’re going to want to supervise them for awhile and redirect their attention. When you see your dog going for the dirt distract them with a fun toy or something more enjoyable until they learn that there’s plenty more exciting things to do in the yard other than play in the dirt.

Why do dogs eat dirt?

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