Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

Though most dog-owners get used to their poochs quirks and habits after a while, some behavior can surprise even the most knowledgeable pet parent. While all dogs have individual personalities and love doing different things, there is no denying that in most cases, a dogs favorite pastime involves two things – eating and being outdoors. When combined together, this can result in a very peculiar behavior, such as dogs eating mud, causing many dog-owners to fret about their furry friends health. Despite seeming strange, the behavior is quite common and can be concerning depending on the level of severity of it and other circumstances or symptoms.

In case of any concerns, a veterinarian can also run blood tests to check whether your pooch is actually nutrient deficient and will be able to help you pick the most suitable dog food for your furballs specific needs.

Is eating dirt bad for dogs?

While dogs don’t typically eat enough dirt to cause gastrointestinal issues, other than potentially contracting intestinal parasites, dogs eating stones and dirt may develop intestinal blockages, which require surgical removal.

Why is my dog eating dirt all of a sudden?

There are many causes, including nutritional, behavioral, and physical. Stress or boredom can also lead to eating all sorts of things, including dirt.” If your dog is continually eating dirt, you shouldn’t discount this behavior, as it could be a sign of a bigger issue, such as: Anemia (low red blood cell count)

And like the garbage can raiders (looking for that discarded food) and pooh eaters (gross! and yes we covered this topic too), there is a reason for your dogs dirt-eating madness, so its not something you want to ignore.

Dogs natural instinctual tendencies help to promote their survival and signs like this should not be overlooked. Laurie S Coger DVM, CVCP says shes seen dirt eating when owners are feeding poorly designed home diets.

So dogs with IBD could be eating dirt because they are trying to get more minerals to help deal with the anemia, says Judy Morgan DVM, CVA, CVCP, CVFT. Other things that may lead to anemia, include bleeding tumors, parasites, ulcers and chronic kidney disease. Autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks red blood cells or platelets will cause anemia.

A less serious cause is simply that your dog is going after something tasty, like bacon or hamburger grease under a grill. Humans exhibit strange habits out of stress and boredom hair twirling, knuckle cracking, overeating, etc. Picture a large working dog being stuck home alone all day Hes probably going to find a way to entertain himself, possibly by eating dirt.

Remember, dogs, like people, need a job and a daily purpose, especially when dealing with herding and high-energy breeds. Doggie day care facilities offer unlimited opportunities for socialization and human and canine interaction. Avoid internal hazardous health problems and digestive upsets and dont let your dog eat dirt.

As a pet owner, you may have caught your dog eating (or attempting to eat) some pretty weird stuff. But, have you ever observed your pup snacking on straight-up dirt?

Anemia (low red blood cell count) Nutritional imbalances or deficiencies, especially in minerals Low-quality food Upset stomach Gastrointestinal disturbance Dr. Coger notes that while stomach and gastrointestinal issues could be to blame for your dogs interest in dirt, canines are more likely to seek out grass in these cases.

As a pet parent, youve likely found your dog chowing down on all sorts of no-nos, from shoots of grass in the backyard to crumbs on the kitchen floor. If youve discovered your dog eating dirt, though, youre probably wondering: why?

Often, youll discover a puppy eating dirt much like you would a curious toddler with a developing palatetheyre just giving it a taste, says Dr. Joanna Woodnutt , a veterinarian based in the U.K. It is thought that dogs with anemia eat dirt because it contains iron, which is essential for growing new red blood cells, explains Woodnutt.

If youre concerned about your dogs dirt-eating habit and want to get to the root cause, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a complete physical exam and take a stool sample to be tested, suggests Collier. When a dog eats dirt, there is a risk that he could ingest [the eggs of] intestinal parasites such as roundworm, hookworm and whipworm, bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms that could be harmful to him, says Flynn. If your dog has a habit of eating dirt, and you spend a lot of time in public parks, you should be aware of the parasitic risks.

This may inadvertently make matters worse by triggering fear, stress, and anxietyall of which can lead to worsening of the behavior, explains Flynn. Of course, to stop your dog from eating dirt out of boredom, make sure hes getting plenty of regular exercise and mental stimulation, adds Collier. Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.

The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation.

Introduction

Though most dog-owners get used to their pooch’s quirks and habits after a while, some behavior can surprise even the most knowledgeable pet parent. While all dogs have individual personalities and love doing different things, there is no denying that in most cases, a dog’s favorite pastime involves two things – eating and being outdoors. When combined together, this can result in a very peculiar behavior, such as dogs eating mud, causing many dog-owners to fret about their furry friend’s health. Despite seeming strange, the behavior is quite common and can be concerning depending on the level of severity of it and other circumstances or symptoms.

The Root of the Behavior

As it turns out, there are a number of reasons dogs eat mud and fortunately they are not all serious. However, the behavior should not be ignored or disregarded either as it can still indicate that something is not right. One of the most commonly suspected theories for why dogs eat mud or dirt is because of a nutrient deficiency. Soil contains probiotic bacteria and essential minerals such as sodium, iron, and calcium. This leads a lot of pet-owners to believe that their pooch digs and occasionally eats the pawed-out mud as a way to compensate for missing minerals in his diet. Though this can be true in some circumstances, according to many veterinarians undernourishment is usually not the case. Check if you’re feeding your dog the right type of diet by matching his food to his breed and age. For example, a German Shepherd will have different nutritional requirements than a tiny Yorkshire Terrier. A puppy will need a more calorie dense diet to promote growth, while a senior dog might gain weight by eating the same food and instead requires a low-calorie kibble that improves digestion and overall gastrointestinal health.Most pet stores sell breed specific dog food and will be able to suggest kibble based on your dog’s breed. However, if you still aren’t sure if you’re feeding your four-legged family member the right type of diet consult your veterinarian for a more accurate and specialized recommendation. In case of any concerns, a veterinarian can also run blood tests to check whether your pooch is actually nutrient deficient and will be able to help you pick the most suitable dog food for your furball’s specific needs. Another suspected reason for the slightly odd mud munching behavior is boredom, especially if it occurs at a young age. Some dogs eat dirt and mud simply because they can. Though humans view mud as something dirty or unpleasant, our canine companions have a completely different perspective. Just like kids, dogs find mud interesting and exciting and thus love to play with it. If the mud fascination is not regular or obsessive and you can easily distract your dog away from it, this is probably the case.

Encouraging the Behavior

Try to distract your dog away from the mud by interacting with him more or initiating playtime. A bored dog usually has too much pent-up energy which can often lead to misbehavior. Putting a bit more effort into quality time with your pooch should reduce the mud eating behavior. Another way to discourage your furry friend from nibbling on mud is by creating negative associations related to the behavior. This can be done with a spray bottle and some water. Most dogs don’t like getting sprayed in their face, so each time your dog goes for the mud, spray him lightly with the water to create a negative association with the behavior.Most importantly, don’t allow for the mud eating to happen as in large quantities it can be very harmful to your canine’s health and may even be fatal. Make sure to supervise your dog when he roams freely in the backyard and pull him away by his leash if the behavior occurs while on a walk. The latter is especially important as streets contain all kinds of dirt, mud and spilled oil that can also negatively impact your pooch’s health. However, if none of the above suggestions help and the behavior persists, consult a veterinarian or a dog trainer for professional support.

1. Bad Food

Your dog’s dirt eating could actually be a search for minerals, vitamins or even good probiotic bacteria that he isn’t getting in his diet.Kibble and unbalanced diets could be the culprits.Pica is defined as a state whereby dogs eat things other than food. For example, eating dirt would be a pica disorder.“This usually occurs when a dog’s body is mineral deficient or is suffering from nutritional deficiency or imbalance.” – Carol Osborne DVM“Dogs’ natural instinctual tendencies help to promote their survival and signs like this should not be overlooked. Should the deranged appetite continue for more than a few days, consider a diet change and seek guidance from your veterinarian,” says integrative veterinarian Osborne.Laurie S Coger DVM, CVCP says she’s seen dirt eating when owners are feeding poorly designed home diets.“It usually occurs when they are not feeding bones, so more a problem with cooked diets than raw,” Coger says. “The dog is searching for the minerals that are missing when bones are not fed. It usually resolves quickly once the diet is improved. This is one of the key reasons I advocate for raw diet over cooked. It just becomes too easy for the minerals to be forgotten when cooking.”

2. Chronic Health Concerns

That search for vitamins and minerals could also be a sign that your dog has a medical condition like inflammatory bowel disease or hypothyroidism.“Inflammation in the bowel can lead to bleeding along the bowel or ulceration, which could lead to anemia. In IBD there is decreased absorption of B vitamins. So dogs with IBD could be eating dirt because they are trying to get more minerals to help deal with the anemia,” says Judy Morgan DVM, CVA, CVCP, CVFT. “Thyroid hormone helps stimulate the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. When there is decreased production of thyroid hormone with hypothyroidism, there is less stimulation of the bone marrow and anemia results.”Other things that may lead to anemia, include bleeding tumors, parasites, ulcers and chronic kidney disease.“Some tumors will also bleed (hemangiosarcomas in particular), which will lead to anemia,” Morgan says. “Internal parasites like hookworms cause anemia. They actually attach to the intestinal lining and suck blood. Other intestinal parasites cause decreased absorption of nutrients. External parasites like fleas and ticks suck blood, thereby causing anemia.“Gastrointestinal ulcers cause blood loss, which causes anemia. Chronic kidney disease causes anemia because the kidneys produce erythropoietin, which is a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells. Autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks red blood cells or platelets will cause anemia.”A less serious cause is simply that your dog is going after something tasty, like bacon or hamburger grease under a grill.“If a dog is eating dirt, the owner should check the area to see if there is something there the dog is trying to get to. This would make sense if the dog keeps going back to a particular area – like under a grill,” says Morgan.

4. Behavioral Issues

Humans exhibit strange habits out of stress and boredom – hair twirling, knuckle cracking, overeating, etc. Same goes for our pets who are designed to be active and outdoors, and who don’t always get all the stimulation they require.Picture a large working dog being stuck home alone all day… He’s probably going to find a way to entertain himself, possibly by eating dirt.“Some dogs, especially youngsters and puppies may simply eat dirt out of pure boredom,” says Osborne. “This could be from a multitude of reasons such as lack of exercise, being cooped up in a kennel during the day, not enough playtime, or a lack of proper social interaction. Remember, dogs, like people, need a job and a daily purpose, especially when dealing with herding and high-energy breeds. In general, dogs enjoy jobs, so if your canine’s behavior seems out of sorts, give him something to do. Doggie day care facilities offer unlimited opportunities for socialization and human and canine interaction. In addition, they relieve boredom and for most are just plain fun!”Like humans, dogs can also have obsessive-compulsive disorder. A dog with OCD may start to eat dirt obsessively as part of the disorder. If you suspect OCD or a related behavior disorder, consult with your holistic vet or an animal behaviorist.RELATED: 5 Ways Play and Exercise Can Help Keep Your Dog Mentally Healthy

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As a pet parent, you’ve likely found your dog chowing down on all sorts of no-no’s, from shoots of grass in the backyard to crumbs on the kitchen floor. If you’ve discovered your dog eating dirt, though, you’re probably wondering:Typically, the answer to why dogs eat dirt isn’t so worrisome. “In most cases, geophagia (eating dirt) is behavior-driven. It can be as simple as boredom or more compulsive in nature,” says Dr. Kristi Flynn, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.However, sometimes your dog’s dirty habit can point to deeper health issues or put him at risk of developing them, depending on what’s inside the soil he’s eating.So, what should you do about your dirt-eater? Read on for what you need to know, including why dogs eat dirt, whether it’s dangerous, and how to keep your dog safe from harm.

What Happens if Dogs Eat Dirt?

Dogs eating dirt may be caused by an underlying illness, poor nutrition, or a behavioral cause like boredom,” says Dr. Karyn L. Collier, medical director of wellness medicine at the Saint Francis Veterinary Center in New Jersey. It’s a form of pica, a condition where animals eat non-food items.Often, you’ll discover a puppy eating dirt much like you would a curious toddler with a developing palate—they’re just giving it a taste, says Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, a veterinarian based in the U.K.Other less common reasons for dogs eating dirt include:“It is thought that dogs with anemia eat dirt because it contains iron, which is essential for growing new red blood cells,” explains Woodnutt. “The soil also contains small amounts of copper, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and other minerals, so if a pet is deficient in any of these, he may eat soil to try to compensate.” In rare cases, your dog’s food might be at the root of nutritional imbalances that lead to dirt-eating.Finally, you may find your dog eating grass and dirt (or even stones and gravel) due to gastrointestinal distress.If you’re concerned about your dog’s dirt-eating habit and want to get to the root cause, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a complete physical exam and take a stool sample to be tested, suggests Collier.

Interceptor Plus Indications

Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.