Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

Dogs get into all sorts of gross things. Sometimes they sneak into the trash. Other times you can see them sniffing around less-than-ideal things like dirt. Why do dogs eat dirt? As gross as it may be that they are eating dirt, there is a reason for it. As a pet owner, it’s your job to get the detective hat on and figure out why your pet is behaving this way.

Is Eating Dirt a Problem?

Your dog may be eating dirt to deal with some issues, but you need to step in. Eating dirt isn’t a huge problem when it’s a small amount. If your dog continually eats dirt, you must put an end to it.

It’s not the end of the world if your dog does ingest a little dirt but remember what’s in dirt. There can be pesticides or insecticides. Even if you don’t treat your lawn, your neighbors may. You don’t want your pet ingesting what is essentially poison.

Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

Below you’ll find several reasons why your dog might be eating dirt. Some are not very concerning but eating dirt can be a sign of serious health problems. Knowing “why do dogs eat dirt” will be the first step in diagnosing why your dog might be eating dirt.

Yummy Dirt

Sometimes the reason your dog is eating dirt is more obvious than you would think. Something tasty fell in the dirt. Maybe you were grilling in the backyard and some food fell in the dirt.

Remember that the simplest reason may be the most apt. Check the area around where your dog is eating dirt to see if anything has fallen. If you find some bacon or grease, you may be able to put your worries to rest. Just try harder to keep your burger flipping to the grill where it belongs.

Poor Diet

If you’ve found your dog eating dirt, it could be the sign of a poor diet. They may be missing essential nutrients from their diet and are looking for them. The best place to look may be the ground.

When a dog is malnourished, their survival instincts kick in. They will look anywhere and everywhere to get the minerals they feel they are lacking.

Dogs are used to eating bone in their diet. Some kibble will not have as much bone as your dog may need. If this is the case, you can consider changing their diet or simply adding some bone chew toys. You may also consider adding some bone meal to their diet as well.

Just remember that anytime you make big changes to your dog’s diet, you should run it past your vet. They will have the best advice of how your dog is doing and what they may need.

Chronic Health Problem

While a dog may eat dirt because they are not getting enough nutrients, their diet may not be the issue. If your dog has a good diet but is still eating dirt, they may be having health issues. Your dog can be getting all the nutrients they need in their diet, but if their body can’t absorb the nutrients it doesn’t make much of a difference.

A dog may be eating dirt due to a disease like inflammatory bowel disease or hypothyroidism. If their bowels are inflamed, they cannot process and absorb the nutrients they need – specifically B vitamins. Hypothyroidism can also be the cause of anemia because your dog is less able to stimulate bone marrow.

Likewise, your dog may develop anemia due to a parasite or kidney disease. While parasites can usually be taken care of, a chronic disease will require monitoring and possibly treatments for the remainder of the dog’s life.

Upset Stomach

While eating dirt may seem strange to us, for dogs it seems to be a kind of natural remedy. Why a dog might eat dirt could be because their stomach is upset. Eating dirt can act as a kind of abrasive to help cleanse the body.

Dirt can also help stimulate contractions in the stomach or the intestines. In this way, your dog may be using it to help push the irritant through. Or your dog may be trying to induce vomiting if they are feeling tummy troubles.

Behavioral Problems

Your dog may be eating dirt simply as a coping mechanism. Take a look at your dog’s day-to-day life. If they spend most of the time indoors or in a crate, they will need time to get out. If you are not giving that time to exercise both their body and mind, they may pick up some strange behaviors.

Eating dirt may be one of those behaviors. If your dog is bored all day, they may start eating dirt. If your dog isn’t getting the proper socialization that they need, they may eat dirt. It’s very important that you take this as a sign and seek the proper assistance. Again, your vet will be a great resource for you when dealing with this issue.

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