Why Does Your Dog Eat Dirt?
9 April, 2014

Most dogs have a naturally healthy appetite and like to eat a variety of things.  However, some dogs like to eat inappropriate items such as grass or even dirt.  If you notice your dog eating dirt, it’s not necessarily a bad sign, but it may be. Keep a close eye on your pup to watch for other telling behaviors that can show you that he’s eating dirt due to an underlying medical condition that you need to address.

Target the problem

A dog may eat dirt because his/her diet is poor so they eat dirt to get the nutrients they need. Most chain grocery and department stores, where many people purchase pet food, often stock low-quality products. Try a specialty pet store, your vet, or a local co-op when shopping for your dog’s food. Read labels, look for natural ingredients with minimal additives, and talk to your vet about your pet’s dietary needs. If the behavior continues, take your dog to your vet to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical issue.

Mineral Deficiency

One reason that some dogs eat dirt is because their standard diet lacks in certain minerals. If this is the case, your dog may revert back to his instinctual tendencies to try to obtain the rest of the important vitamins and minerals that he needs in order to survive healthily. If he isn’t getting the minerals he needs from food, he may try to get them by eating dirt. Check if your dog eats dirt frequently when he’s outside; if he doesn’t, this is a potential sign that he may be missing out on certain materials that he needs for his diet.

Your dog may eat dirt because of an upset stomach

In other situations, a dog may begin to eat dirt if he has already eaten something that has begun to upset his stomach or his intestinal tract. Eating dirt is an attempt to dilute or to get rid of the offending food item. This may be something as mild as a plant that has caused him a bit of distress, or it could be something very serious, like one of several human foods which are poisonous to dogs. Watch for your dog eating dirt one time only but for a sustained period of time. If he eats a lot of dirt at once, this is also a potential sign that something is the matter with his bowels or his stomach.

Your dog might only eat dirt due to what’s underneath

In many other situations, your dog will appear to be eating dirt but may actually be eating some food item that lies in the grass or on the ground.  In these situations, the dog will likely not eat very much dirt at one time and it will only be a single occurrence. Keep in mind that your dog can smell food that is buried under the ground significantly better than you can.

Try stopping your dog from eating the dirt before it happens

If your dog eats dirt frequently and there is no underlying medical issue, try to stop the occurrence before it happens.  Use your usual commands, ‘sit’ or ‘no’ when your dog is on his way to the dirt.  You can also use a spray bottle filled with water and squirt your dog every time he eats dirt to stop him.  Or as his or her owner, you know what annoys your dog or will stop them from behaving inappropriately.

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