Last Updated on January 8, 2022 by Griselda M.
Among many weird things dogs will do – it’s not uncommon to find old dogs eating dirt for no obvious reason. There can be many reasons behind this, some of which even share similarities with humans. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take this seriously.
In today’s article, we’ll take a very close look at why do dogs eat dirt, what are the dangers behind it, and how to stop it.
Why Are Dogs Eating Dirt?
Eating dirt is actually a symptom of pica. This condition is not only present with dogs, believe it or not! There are also cases of humans suffering from pica. This condition forces the patient to ingest nonfood materials – ranging from dirt to paperclips. If your dog is eating dirt, the most likely reason is pica.
There are many reasons for this condition, ranging from physical and behavioral issues, as well as stress. Then there’s anemia, gastrointestinal disturbance, and nutritional imbalances.
Your dog will sometimes eat dirt if the food you’re feeding it isn’t adequate. If there’s a mineral deficiency in your dog’s organism, it could go looking for minerals in the dirt. It’s also possible that your dog can sense something tasty in the dirt.
If you, for example, decided to bury a bone in the back yard – chances are your dog will still be able to smell it. So, next time you’re wondering “Why does my dog eat dirt from my potted plants?!” check the area around them – there could be something tasty there!
We’d also like to mention stress as a possible culprit behind this whole issue. Eating dirt can be just another way for your dog to tell you that it’s under a lot of stress. We, humans, tend to bite our nails and overeat – dogs can shed their hair and eat dirt.
This doesn’t always translate to dirt! With this condition, it’s not uncommon for dogs to eat grass, sometimes even plants they see around the house. What’s important is to define exactly what’s happening if your dog eats dirt and learn how to stop it.
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Dangers Of Eating Dirt
As you can probably imagine yourself, eating dirt is not healthy and it can lead to many concerns. The first one is the purity of the soil itself. If your dog eats dirt from one of your potted plants, for example, that dirt could contain fertilizers, pesticides, etc. These substances are very dangerous to ingest, which is why you should certainly take your dog to the vet if this happens.
Secondly, we have to ask ourselves, can dogs even digest dirt? The answer is – not if they eat a lot of it. If your dog eats a pound of dirt on its own, chances are it won’t be able to digest it and this often means surgery.
There can also be many harmful things in the dirt like rocks or pieces of wood – this could damage your dogs’ teeth. Even worse, it could hurt your dog’s digestive tract, requiring surgery.
Lastly, it’s possible for your dog to ingest something dangerous, like a parasite, that’s only going to make your dog sick. This is why it’s best to react to this dirt-eating problem as quickly as possible and stop your dog from eating dirt.
Preventing Your Dog From Eating Dirt
The first step towards solving any health issue with dogs is visiting the vet. Eating dirt can actually be a symptom of something more serious, and the vet needs to examine your dog and determine the course of treatment. If that is the case, let the professionals do their job and help your dog with the problem.
It could be, however, that your dog decides to eat dirt because of behavioral problems. In that case, you’re going to need to work with your dog to stop this from happening.
Keep your dog entertained
It may sound silly, but your dog could be eating dirt because it’s boring. Many people don’t find this possible, but dogs will act out in fascinating ways if they’re bored. That’s why it’s best to provide company and entertainment for dogs who manifest these problems. For example, your dog is less likely to pull these stunts if it has another dog to spend time with.
It’s also less likely to do it if it can spend time with you.
Train your dog
Training your dog to avoid eating dirt through positive reinforcement is another way to go about this problem. Teaching your dog to perform tricks and rewarding them with treats when they want to eat dirt is a form of positive reinforcement that should work. This way, your dog should learn to avoid eating dirt and instead work with you, the owner. It will start finding you and training more interesting than eating, so it should take a break on the dirt-eating.
Relieve the stress
If your dog is eating dirt because of stress, the only thing you can do about it relieves the stress. To do this, you must first find out what’s causing the stress. Dogs experience anxiety, stress, and fear in similar ways humans do.
If you’ve moved to a new place or if the dog recently lost an owner, it’s possible that’s the reason behind acting out. There are many experts on dog behavior who can help you out with stress and help your dog find relief. It could be smart to work with them to find the solution to the problem.
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To Sum Up
Dogs usually eat dirt because of some underlying mental, physical or behavioral conditions. Eating dirt is definitely unhealthy, as it can cause many problems because of the toxicity and the texture of dirt. If you find your dog eating dirt often, it’s best to take it to the vet, as they can determine exactly what’s happening with your pup!
Make sure to work with your dog to find out what’s happening and train it to stop behaving the way it’s behaving. We certainly recommend working with experts in dog behavior!
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