Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt?

   Don’t you love watching your dog running around outside enjoying life? You watch them roll in the fresh grass, chase squirrels and play fetch. It is a great day to be a dog parent and you are proud to raise such a well-adjusted pet. Then out of the blue, your dog begins to eat dirt. WHAT?!?! Why is your dog eating dirt?

 The truth is that dogs eat a lot of weird things. It is not unusual for them to enjoy rummaging through the garbage. You might even have the dreaded poop eater. Some dogs eat rocks while others enjoy a mouthful of dirt. Most of us can understand the garbage surfers. There can be tasty leftovers to munch. If your dog is eating poop, you can speak to your vet. There are food additives to curb their desire to eat poop; at least their own.
Bentley Basset Hound puppy with a muddy face.
   If your dog is eating dirt, you don’t want to brush it off as a simple “dog thing.” According to W Jean Dodds, DVM, it can be evidence of an underlying behavioral problem. It could be due to an obsessive-compulsive disorder, mental problems from painful past experiences, or due to a genetically inherited behavioral problem.   The more common reason is believed to be due to a minor mineral or vitamin deficiency or an upset stomach or irritation. It could be as simple as they smell where food had been on the ground. However, if your dog is consuming dirt compulsively, a trip to the vet is a good idea. They will be able to make sure your dog is eating a balanced diet.
Why is my dog eating dirt?

·        BAD FOOD ~ Your dog could be trying to get minerals, vitamins or probiotic bacteria that is lacking in its diet. It could be as simple as changing from kibble or an unbalanced diet.
*I suggest Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health for a complete diet.
·        Chronic Health Concerns ~ Eating dirt could be an indication of a serious medical condition such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease or hypothyroidism.
Inflammation in the bowel can lead to bleeding along the bowel which could cause anemia due to decreased consumption of B vitamins. Dogs with IBD could be eating dirt in order to get more minerals to deal with the anemia, according to Judy Morgan DVM, CVA, CVCP, and CVFT. In hypothyroidism, there is a decreased production of red blood cells by the bone marrow thus resulting in anemia. You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is anemic.
·        Upset Stomach ~ You have probably heard that dogs eat grass for stomach troubles. Eating dirt could be your dog’s way of soothing a digestive problem, internal parasites or to detoxify. Dirt is a natural way that animals clean the inside of their intestines. Don’t be alarmed if your dog eats dirt and promptly vomits. You’ll see them have the same results by eating grass.
·        Behavioral Problems ~ It is possible that your best friend is simply bored. All dogs need stimulation both physically and mentally each day. When they are not afforded proper exercise, they will look for ways to entertain themselves. This could lead to eating dirt. Make sure that you interact with your best friend by going for a walk together or a game of fetch to ward off boredom. If they are left without an outlet for activity, their dirt eating problem can develop into a full-blown case of OCD. If your dog is compulsively eating dirt, you should consult your vet or animal behaviorist.
·        Delicious Dirt ~ A dog has 220 million olfactory receptors in their noses while humans have a mere 5 million. That makes their sense of smell 40 times greater than ours. That means your dog can smell food or something else they consider tasty in the dirt. This is particularly so around places such as your garbage can or grill. If you suspect this is the reason your dog has become a dirt connoisseur, it is a good idea to thoroughly rinse the area with water.
   While eating dirt might not seem like a big problem, it can be an indicator that something is amiss with your dog. If a change in their food doesn’t eliminate the desire to eat dirt, please seek medical advice. It could be more than just your dog’s dirty little secret.
Pierre Westie covered in mud and licking his mouth.
   If your dog has a habit of eating unusual things, you should probably check out my post, Dog Poisoning Emergencies. I will be discussing possible causes for the strange things that dogs eat in future posts. Does your dog have an appetite for something that has you wondering why? Let me know in the comments.



  1. Haha no dirt here, but they do eat grass when their tummies hurt!

  2. We love eating damp dirt and the roots of grass. Unfortunately, we live in a drought prone area and don't get damp dirt much....

  3. Aww Bentley and Pierre look soooooo cute in dirt! :) Happy loves rolling in dirt but at least he doesn't eat them. He hasn't found any delicious dirt yet! ;)

  4. our village should pay for Easy's street cleaning service :o) he has something of a hawk, it's a nano second till something lands in in his mouth :o)

  5. Dirt??? Hmmmm... I do enjoy finding stuff on the street to eat, but I've never tried the dirt. It sounds delicious. Once I found macaroni noodles back by the dumpster....

    Love and licks,

  6. I like to eat grass sometimes, but not dirt.

  7. I is a grazer on the grass sumtimes as well.....don't do dirt but well (blushes wiv embarrassment) haf been know to eat poo!
    Loves and licky kisses (and yes...my licky kisses aren't very welcome then!)
    Princess Leah xxx

  8. Bailie is into eating the dead grass that is in the snowbanks from the plows. Some of it has dirt attached. She is just nuts for the dead grass most of the time. She likes to eat fresh grass clumps after mowing too. We think she just wants some salad really.

  9. Our doggies that we used to have used to eat the cat poop which was annoying but not much I could do about it.Too many cats out in our yard but it never made them sick. I don't think they ate dirt.Pierre, You just a tiny bit dirty. Looks like you weren't eating the dirt.

  10. It is odd - in 40 years of having furbabies - I have never had one that ate dirt or poop, never had one afraid of lightning and thunder. Of coarse one of my little 'cowspotdogs' (the dweeb) lives up to his name and LOVES a good chomp on some grass :)

  11. WE like a bit of DIRT and some Yard Salad now and then... I ( Frankie Furter) am pawticularly fond of the little mounds of Dirt (CASTINGS) left by Night Crawlers... We think Dirt is GOOD on the Nose and Paws and... now and then to Cleanse the Pallet. Ernie is very pawticular about the Yard Salad greens that he enjoys... He will search and search fur the PAWfect spears...
    And WHO could resist a nice Find of Rabbit or Deer poops?????? YUMMMMMMMY

  12. Well, I can definitely say that my huskies do not eat dirt!! LOL!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  13. Cocoa puts a lot of things in her mouth but she does not eat dirt. But they laugh at daycare because they had a warning on her chart when she was little that said eats rocks. She still picks up everything she can find but prefers sticks.

  14. Great post! We eat lots of weird things but not much dirt unless we are busy digging BOL!

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

  15. No dirt eaters here - but Hazel LOVES to eat dandelions and Mabel loves to eat the leaves that fall off the trees
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  16. No dirt eaters here, but we do have poop eaters and grass eaters. Our vet has not to worry about poop eating, and I know our dogs get a healthy diet.
    I know dogs eat grass for upset tummies, but Luke eats it all the time! I'm pretty sure he just really likes it (along with poop which seems to be especially attractive when it's frozen). :)
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  17. We are more, "get the dirt and mud all over us type of pups" instead of the dirt eating kind.
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

  18. That is really interesting. My dogs aren't dirt eaters. They love grass and sometimes, to my revolt & horror, poop! Great information, thank you!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  19. The Madam does not eat dirt but the occasional grass - she is such a Diva she will not even walk on the wet grass in the park BOL, thanks for the info, Woof from Layla

  20. Despite Sam being somewhat dimwitted, he is quite discerning when it comes to things he puts in his mouth. Other than food, he only ingests expensive leather pieces. [wink] Silly dog! ღ

  21. Interesting post, thank you and baby Bentley made me smile! Glory and Preacher will grab rocks and carry them around and toss them around in their mouths. One of the weird things they do.

  22. Interesting. Lucky we don't have dirt eaters here. Can't say the same about wild animal poop. We discourage eating any non food items.

  23. This is an excellent post! Thank you for sharing such valuable info!

  24. Dirt? ewwwww....

    So glad we have never had that problem, but it's clearly an issue for some people. The dirt around here is rather rich and full of organic material so with all those olfactory receptors I consider myself lucky.


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