Dec. 20.2021 | Updated: December 20, 2021

What Causes Dogs to Eat Dirt, Does It Have Side Effects & How Can I Stop It

dogs eat dirt

Can dogs eat dirt? Dogs can try to eat strange things, can’t they? And some cases are difficult to ignore. For example, if dogs eat dirt, you should immediately pay attention to such situations. Some people say it reflects potential behavioral problems. This may be due to obsessive-compulsive disorder, mental problems that have arisen as a result of past painful experiences, or inherited behavioral problems. It is often considered to be a reflection of a small deficiency of minerals or vitamins, discomfort or irritation in the stomach, or even simple things. Obviously, your pet loves dirt for several reasons, some of which are more serious than others. So let’s take a closer look at this topic!

What Does It Mean When a Dog Eats Dirt?

why do dogs eat dirt

Is your dog digging and eating dirt? Well, it is a relatively common and even normal behavior for dogs, especially among puppies. However, when it is constantly doing this or showing symptoms of other medical conditions at the same time, your dog may actually be dealing with a medical problem that requires immediate attention and consultation with the veterinarian.

Is Eating Dirt Bad for Dogs?

can dogs eat dirt

This can be not only bad but also dangerous:

  • Due to toxins and poisons contained in the soil, the pet may develop diarrhea or constipation, acute vomiting.
  • Dogs do not grow back after changing their baby teeth to permanent ones, so they do not need to be ground. If it eats too hard food, cracks appear in the enamel, caries can occur.
  • Street dirt contains not only toxins and solid particles, but also numerous parasites.
  • If an interesting puppy swallows one small stone that gets into the dirt, it will most likely come out naturally. But if there are a few stones, or the pet eats a large object, the exit from the intestine will be blocked, which will lead to the intoxication of the body.
  • It can occur with the stagnation of fecal masses due to intestinal obstruction. And here an urgent operation is needed to save the dog’s life.

Therefore at the first alarming symptoms or side effects of a dog eating dirt, it is necessary to show the pet to the veterinarian immediately.

Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

side effects of dog eating dirt

There are many reasons dogs eat dirt, which can lead to dangerous consequences, and we will describe the most common of them below.


A dog is eating dirt due to a pathological condition in which the animal feels an irresistible urge to eat unusual and inedible items. Often this pathology is a symptom of other serious diseases:

  • helminthiasis;
  • immunodeficiency;
  • hypothyroidism;
  • intestinal dysbacteriosis.

Dirt activates the organs of the gastrointestinal tract. The pet intuitively understands this and eats it to get rid of some toxins by improving peristalsis. However, the identified problem cannot be ignored. If a pet swallows it regularly, the consequences can be much more severe than the disease.

Lack of Vitamins

Another reason a dog keeps eating dirt is a lack of any elements, vitamin deficiency, and a meager diet. Without getting the necessary nutrients from food, animals thus fill the mineral deficiency. This problem is common for those who do not eat enough meat and bones. Negatively affects the quality of food and excessive heat treatment, which greatly reduces the beneficial properties of trace elements. So, what is a dog lacking when it eats dirt? Lack of useful minerals and vitamins.

Some Mental Disorders

What causes dogs to eat dirt? It can indicate a dog’s mental health. Such violations often occur in animals taken from the street. Due to prolonged exposure to difficult conditions, pets may develop behavioral problems, such as fear of strangers and loud noises, or involuntary urination from excess emotions, even in adulthood. However, they can also occur in puppies who have been surrounded by love and care since puppyhood. This can be due to depression in the loss of one of the owners or other pets, lack of attention, or physical activity.

Features of Pets’ Behavior

A puppy can eat dirt and even stones to learn about the world around it through the senses. For example, the stone may leave traces of ice cream that accidentally fell on it. You would not know about it, and the dog’s nose is sure to smell goodies. Also, a pet can bite stones or dirt when changing baby teeth, when he feels very itchy. So, what can I give my dog to stop eating dirt? A chewing toy from a pet store would help to stop it.

How to Get a Dog to Stop Eating Dirt?

what does it mean when a dog eats dirt

To correct the unwanted behavior of the dog, it is necessary to teach it the commands and use the method of distraction. You can involve a professional dog trainer or act independently to solve the problem.

  • If you find your pet eating dangerous objects, you need to whistle or clap your hands. This should be done, trying to stay unnoticed to avoid redirecting aggression.
  • Always take chewing toys for walks with your dog. When your pet begins to show interest in the dirt, offer it a toy. But toys need to be changed from time to time so that the dog does not lose interest in them.
  • Try to diversify your walks by changing routes, using shared games and activities. This would help to capture the attention of your pet, increase your level of understanding and trust.
  • Teach your dog the commands. It’s easiest with puppies, but if you have patience, an adult dog will be able to remember the commands of the ban. A pet who obeys a command and spits out a dangerous object or manages to ignore it must be encouraged.
  • You need to walk the dog on a leash to be able to quickly stop trying to eat something forbidden.

An important point: when you want to stop a dog from eating dirt, you can scold it, but only with the help of intonation and its approach.

You may have noticed that the same principle applies here as with small children. You wouldn’t let your child eat sand or dirt, would you? So it can significantly harm the dog too!

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