Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

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Dogs are known for eating all sorts of different things, including dirt. 

While it might seem strange, it is not unheard of with these animals. If your dog is eating dirt on a consistent basis, you’ll want to learn about some of the possible reasons. Your dog could have some underlying condition.

Is Dirt Dangerous for Dogs?

Some dirt is more dangerous than others for dogs to ingest. The fact is that it largely depends on what is mixed in with the dirt. If your dog eats soil that contains fertilizer, pesticides or other potentially toxic things, their health could be at serious risk.

Reasons Dogs Eat Dirt

There are a number of possible reasons that your dog is eating dirt that you should know about. Some of these explanations are more of a cause for concern than others, but you still need to learn the facts.

1. Malnutrition

It is possible that your dog is eating dirt because it is trying to get the nutrients that it is lacking in its everyday diet. If they aren’t getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need on a daily basis, there is no telling what they’ll try to eat.

You will need to make sure that your dog is given nutrient-rich food each day so it stays healthy as a whole. You should consider switching them over to another food if what they are eating right now is not meeting their nutritional requirements.

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Make sure that your dog is currently being given food that is appropriate for its age. Puppies shouldn’t be given adult food, and mature adults shouldn’t be given puppy food. This is why there are specially formulated foods for dogs in different life stages. Sometimes senior dogs need to be put on a special diet that is just for older canines.

If you decide to put your dog on another food, you should make a point of transitioning them to it slowly. This will improve the chances of your dog eating the new food while minimizing any negative reactions to it.

2. They Like the Taste

Your dog might be eating dirt in the backyard because it likes the taste. There’s no telling what dogs will find delicious. Look in the dirt around where your dog has been eating. It’s possible that there is something in the dirt that it is trying to get to. This could be a piece of food or something else that they like the taste of.

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3. They Are Attracted to the Scent

If the dirt in a certain part of your yard has the scent of some animal, your dog might start eating it. It’s also possible that the dirt has your scent if you have been doing some gardening. While most dogs will only sniff the dirt if it has an interesting scent, some dogs will actually eat it up.

4. They Are Bored

There are all sorts of odd things that a dog might do if it is boring enough. If your dog is lacking stimulation on a daily basis, they’ll do just about anything to break up the monotony. You might want to take this as a sign to start spending more time with them.

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When you set aside some more time to play with or even just pet your dog each day, you might be able to stop this particular behavior. All dogs need attention and playtime on a regular basis, including low energy breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards.

5. Stress/Anxiety

A dog that is very stressed or anxious can also end up doing a variety of things that seem eccentric or downright crazy. There are many reasons that a dog could become overwhelmed by stress. If you have just moved into a new house with your dog, they could still be adjusting to their new environment.

Some dogs act strangely when they are around other dogs while in the backyard. This is especially common with little dogs that are in close proximity to much larger ones. It could be a simple stress response to other more intimidating animals nearby.

Believe it or not, there are dogs that have obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. Researchers have discovered that this is not a condition that is exclusive to humans. This means that your dog could be eating dirt in the backyard because it feels compelled to do so. digging is another behavior that is commonly associated with OCD in dogs.

If your dog has serious problems with stress or anxiety, they might require medication. Your vet may recommend putting them on an anti-anxiety medication, at least for a little while.

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6. They Are Nauseous

If your dog has an upset stomach, they might start eating dirt and/or grass. This is actually a fairly common thing that dogs do to soothe their stomach when they become nauseous. Sometimes a dog will unintentionally consume some dirt along with the grass it is trying to eat. These animals just instinctively know to do this when their stomach is bothering them.

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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Dirt

When you are trying to get your dog to stop eating dirt, there are a number of methods you can try out. You can always try training your dog by using some simple commands. If you suspect there is a mental/emotional or physical problem with your dog, you should get them to the vet right away.


  • Dirt is not inherently toxic to dogs, but it can be if there are any pesticides, fertilizer or certain other things present.
  • Your dog may be eating dirt in the backyard because it is trying to get nutrients it isn’t currently getting from its food.
  • It’s also possible that your dog just likes the taste of the dirt. This could be due to something in the dirt that tastes or smells good to them.
  • A bored dog will sometimes eat dirt and do other things that seem very odd, possibly as a cry for attention.
  • If your dog is very stressed or anxious, it might start eating dirt. Dogs with OCD sometimes do this.
  • Dogs sometimes eat grass as a way of soothing their upset stomach, but they may unintentionally eat some dirt with it.
  • If you suspect that your dog is eating dirt due to a medical condition of some kind, you should take them to the vet to get looked at right away.
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