Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

The desire for your dog to munch on dirt may be mainly because of boredom, or they found something tasty underneath the ground. While the reasons could be as simple as those, they can also indicate an underlying health issue. While there are many reasons, some can be more serious than others. Let’s take a closer look at the common possibilities.

1. Tasty Dirt

Your dog can start eating dirt simply because they feel it is tasty. If your dog develops the habit, you should be careful and check the canine’s surroundings.

It might be under a grill that you regularly do barbecue. The smell that stays in that area after roasting food can be long-lasting for days. Your furry friend can habitually visit the area to eat the dirt.

2. Behavioral Issues

Like humans who develop strange habits when stressed, dogs can also develop behavioral issues. Canines are built to be most active outdoors, and if your pet does not get the stimulation they require, they can react unpleasantly. An example is a dog who spends most of the day indoors; given a chance of freedom, they can end up eating dirt to have some fun or out of curiosity.

Lack of playtime and social interaction affects mostly puppies, who spend most of their time in a kennel. The puppy will spend the whole day bored and can curiously eat dirt when the chance arises.

Also, dogs suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder may start consuming dirt.

3. Stomach Upset

Dirt is unhygienic to humans, as it is the root cause of gastrointestinal issues in most toddlers that eat it. In dogs, it can be different; some dirt, such as clay, can contain healing elements for stomach upset and even assist in eliminating parasites and detoxification.

Dogs experiencing stomach issues can instinctively seek out a particular type of dirt to detoxify. The dirt can assist in various ways, such as keeping things moving in their digestive tract or acting as an abrasive to clean inside the intestines.

4. Bad Diet

Your dog eating dirt can be a way of supplementing minerals and vitamins that are not present in their regular diet. While most diets contain nutrients, some lack essential micro-nutrients that your furry friend requires.

5. Severe Health Issues

Your dog’s search for micro-nutrients and minerals in dirt can be a sign that there is an underlying health issue. Health issues such as inflamed bowels or hypothyroidism are common in dogs who eat dirt.

A dog’s bowels being inflamed can lead to internal bleeding in their bowels, which can escalate to anemia. Inflamed bowels can also cause lower absorption of B vitamins. Your canine might start eating dirt to get more minerals in their bodies to assist in combating anemia. Other issues that can cause canine anemia include parasites, bleeding tumors, and kidney disease.

Is Eating Dirt Bad For Dogs?

While, in some instances, dirt can be beneficial to dogs because it provides the micro-nutrients that we may not know they are lacking, it also presents a great danger. This is because the dirt may contain harmful parasites and worms. Also, the dirt in most backyards is treated with pesticides, which poses a serious health risk.

Here are other risks associated with dogs eating dirt:

  • Chocking
  • Damage to their digestive tract and teeth
  • Intestinal blockage

Related: Can Dogs Eat Earthworms?

How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Dirt

While there may be positive reasons for dogs eating dirt, it does not mean they should eat it. Dirt contains toxins and pathogens that can be harmful to dogs.

If your dog is experiencing a health problem or nutritional imbalance, then treating the condition is better than letting them eat dirt. If your dog has a habit of eating dirt, here are a few ways to stop that:

  • Entertain Them

The reason why your dog might be eating dirt may be because they are bored. To help your dog stay away from dirt, you can increase the level of attention you give them. Additionally, provide a different selection of toys to play with.

Besides playing with your furry friend, you can dedicate yourself to daily walks with them. If your dog gets engaged constantly, they will less likely entertain themselves by eating dirt.

  • Change Their Diet

If your pup is eating dirt because of mineral imbalance, you should find different ways to supplement their diet. For example, you might try a different brand of dog food that is more nutritious and healthier for them. Moreover, providing homemade dog foods made with natural ingredients can be helpful to your dog.

You can also get doggy supplements from your vet or ask them for healthier additions to your pup’s diet to take care of the imbalance.

  • Avoid Specific Areas

If you notice that your pooch is always going to a specific place to eat dirt, you should avoid that place. This is a sign that your furry friend finds something more in the dirt and not the dirt itself.

  • Put your Dog on a Leash When Outside

It is crucial that you have supervised walks when you are out with your dog. Putting them on a leash or verbally discouraging them from eating dirt might help. Use commands like ‘stop’ and ‘leave it’ whenever they want to indulge in the habit. You can reward them with a treat whenever they obey your commands.

A leash can assist you by physically tugging them or pulling them away from dirt when on a walk.

  • De-worm Your Dog

Nutrient imbalance can result from intestinal parasites such as whipworms and roundworms. The parasites can cause intestinal distress and anemia, making a dog seek our dirt to replenish lost minerals.

If you see worms in your dog’s feces, you can take them to a vet to get them de-wormed.

Final Thoughts

Eating dirt can be a common habit for most dogs, but you should not let your furry friend develop it. It is not safe for them, and the sooner you prevent the behavior and know why they eat the dirt, the better it will be for your furry friend’s health.

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