Why is my dog eating dirt?
A question that arises in the minds of every dog owner when they see their dog eating unusual things like dirt. The dogs display this unusual behavior when facing physical or mental health issues like stress, anxiety or behavioral disorders.
Eating unusual non-food items like grass, dirt, stones, and sticks is called pica. And when your dog eats dirt, we specifically call this behavior geophagia.
When dogs eat dirt, you should not ignore this habit as it can lead to serious health consequences if he continues to do so.
Why Is My Dog Eating Dirt? Reasons behind This Behavior
When a dog eat dirt, it signals some behavioral, nutritional or medical issue. Your dog may be stressed or bored and find it entertaining to eat dirt. Or he might have smelled something tasty that attracts him to eat dirt.
Here are some reasons that might be compelling your canine fellow to munch the dirt:
This is a medical condition with a reduced number of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Dogs may get this disease due to different medical conditions like fleas and tick infestation, hookworms, or other bleeding disorders.
This deficiency of red blood cells leads to dirt-eating in dogs. The anemic dogs then look for other resources in their reach that could fulfill this deficiency. This condition can be diagnosed by different blood tests when you visit your vet.
If your dog keeps eating dirt, it may be due to some nutritional deficiency, probably mineral deficiency. Every dog has different nutritional requirements depending upon their bodies. Your dog’s food might not be able to provide enough minerals to your dog. This mineral deficiency causes your dog to curb the dirt continuously.
Sometimes the nutrients are not absorbed entirely due to some hormonal causes. That also leads to a deficiency of these minerals. Your dog keeps eating dirt to fulfil the mineral requirement. They look for minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron in the soil that could fulfil the body’s nutritional requirements. You need to choose a food brand that provides complete nutrition to your dog without leaving any deficiency.
An upset stomach also leads your dog to eat dirt. If you see your dog throwing up dirt, then it means that they are eating dirt to soothe their upset stomach.
Sometimes, the dogs eat the grass the face gastrointestinal disturbances, sometimes they also prefer to mix it with soil. They make themselves vomit and relieve stomach pain or other gastrointestinal issues.
Anxiety or Stress
Seeing a dog eating dirt may signal stress and anxiety. Your dog may be facing anxiety due to separation from its owners, or it may not have enough energy output.
They may feel bored if they have no one to spend time with. To keep themselves entertained and busy the dogs find other ways, and eating dirt is one of them.
Dog Eating Dirt – Potential Health Risks
If you see your dog eating dirt frequently, you should not overlook it and pay attention before it becomes a habit. Eating dirt poses many health hazards that could be severe if ignored. Some side effects of dog eating dirt are as follows:
Choking of Stomach
Ingestion of hard or pointed material in the soil can choke the stomach and even damage the esophagus lining, leading to stomach inflammation.
The toxic pesticide or insecticides and fertilizers in the soil can be hazardous for your dog eating dirt. Ingestion of these toxins can lead to severe poisoning.
Parasites and Bacteria
When ingested with dirt, the potential parasites and the soil-dwelling bacteria can cause a range of diseases that might cause severe damage to health.
The impacted intestine may lead to surgery which would be problematic to the dog and the owner.
Do I Need to See the Vet?
If you observe your dog eating dirt continuously, it is an alarming situation, and you cannot ignore it. You should report this behavior to the vet. The vet will look for any potential causes of the unusual habit, which might be any behavioral, medical or physical issue.
He may prescribe any mineral supplements for dogs that eat dirt to make up for the mineral deficiencies. Or he may advise you to replace your dog’s food with a better one that could fulfill the nutritional requirements.
The vet will ask you about your dog’s different behaviors and do a physical exam to find any damage caused by dirt-eating. If it turns out to be a compulsive disorder, you should consult a dog behaviorist to stop your dog from eating dirt.
How to Stop Dog from Eating Dirt?
To stop your dog from eating dirt, you should make up for the nutritional deficiencies and also try to eliminate the potential causes of stress and anxiety in your dog. If you fail to stop dog from eating dirt and it becomes a habit, then you can take up the following tips:
- Distract your dog whenever he is exposed to dirt
- Offer them treats or command them to refrain from dirt
- Spend time with them in playing to eliminate any potential signs of stress or anxiety
- Replace your potted plants with artificial ones if you see your dog eating potting soil
Will eating dirt hurt my dog?
Ingestion of hard or pointed material in the soil can choke the stomach and even damage the esophagus lining, leading to inflammation of the stomach. The impacted intestine may lead to surgery which would be problematic to the dog and the dog owner.
What Is A Dog Lacking When It Eats Dirt?
If your dog keeps eating dirt, it may be due to some nutritional deficiency, probably due to anemia in dogs. The anemic dogs then look for other resources in their reach that could fulfill this deficiency.