Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt?

Have you ever seen your dog eat dirt? Do you often wonder what causes dogs to do this? Can it really be all that exciting for a dog to eat dirt?

Dog eating dirt

If you’re wondering about your dog’s dirt-eating habits, you’re not alone. Many pet owners find themselves wondering just what causes dogs to do this and whether or not it’s really safe. In the article below, you’ll find answers to these questions and more so you can know what to expect if your dog is a fan of dirt.

6 Potential Reasons Why Your Dog Eats Dirt

Below are some reasons for why dogs eat dirt:

Stomach Pain

Dogs often eat grass when they need to settle an upset stomach. However, if your dog is trying to deal with stomach pain, she might also try eating some dirt along with the grass.

Anemia

Sometimes, dogs with anemia may eat dirt because they need more iron in their bodies. Your veterinarian can tell you for sure whether or not your dog is anemic and, if so, what can be done about this condition.

Nutrition Needs

Your dog may not be getting the right type of food to provide the nutrition she needs. If your dog feels like she needs minerals in her body that she isn’t getting, she may try eating dirt to get them instead.

Boredom

If your dog is left outside for a long time without anything to do and with no one to play with, she may start looking for something to occupy her time. In this situation, she might turn to eating dirt in the yard out of boredom.

This behavioral issue can be resolved by stimulating your dog more often.

Stress

Sometimes, dogs who are stressed out may also eat dirt as a nervous compulsion. Your dog may show other signs of stress in this situation too, so be on the lookout. If something major has happened in your household lately, stress could be the culprit.

Smelling Something Underground

If your dog is interested in hunting for creatures under the dirt, she may eat dirt as she tries to dig up whatever she smells underground. This probably only happens every now and then, so it isn’t much to worry about unless it occurs regularly. Your dog may just smell something you can’t!

Risks That Can Come with Your Dog Eating Dirt

6 potential risks that can occur when your dog eats dirt are:

Choking

Your dog could risk swallowing objects like rocks and sticks that might become lodged in her throat and lead to choking. This is a significant risk if your dog eats dirt often while she is unattended, so always keep a close watch on your dog while she’s spending time outdoors in the yard.

Swallowing Foreign Objects

If your dog swallows rocks or sticks that don’t get lodged in her airways, they may instead travel into her digestive system. From there, they could cause major blockages that lead to the need for surgery to repair the issue. This can be very serious and may be fatal if left untreated.

Ingestion of Pesticides

When you treat your lawn with pesticides, you risk exposing your dog to these substances. A dog who eats a lot of dirt in a lawn that is treated with pesticides is also going to eat those chemicals. This could lead to severe poisoning or toxic buildup in your dog’s body and can even be fatal in some situations.

Impaction

If your dog consumes a lot of dirt, the dirt may build up in her intestines and lead to impaction. This may require surgery or invasive veterinary procedures to remove the impaction and help your dog heal. Your dog eating too much dirt is very dangerous for this reason.

Consuming Parasites

Leptospirosis is one of the many types of parasites that are present in dirt. If your dog consumes a lot of dirt, she may be swallowing these types of parasites along with it. This can be very dangerous, especially if she is unvaccinated for these parasites.

Damage to the Teeth

When your dog tries to chew up rocks and sticks as she eats dirt, she may damage her teeth from this habit. Her teeth may become cracked or worn down, and she could risk losing some of her teeth altogether if she keeps this up for a long time.

What You Should Do if Your Dog Eats Dirt

As you can see, there are several underlying causes that may contribute to your dog’s dirt eating. However, most of these problems aren’t really anything to worry about, and your dog is probably going to be fine if she eats dirt now and then.

If your dog is eating dirt constantly or if she is a very young puppy who hasn’t had all of her shots yet, however, there may be some health risks associated with this habit. Speak to your vet for more information and to figure out the best method of treating this behavior in your dog.

For more information on why dogs eat dirt, or how you can help break your dog of this habit, call The Village Vets today. Our team is here and ready to help you in all aspects of your dog’s health and behavior!

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The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.

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About The Village Vets

The Village Vets is a network of animal hospitals based in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. We offer honest, excellent service to our clients in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. To learn more about our locations and how we can better serve you and your pet, click the button below.