Why Is My Dog Eating Dirt?

Your dog likely eats some gross things they find outside.  Trash, grass, poop, and also dirt are among the nasty things your dog may gravitate toward at the park.  A dog eating dirt may be a common scene but it may also be a sign of concern.  

Why Does my Dog eat Dirt?

There are a few main reasons that your dog may be eating dirt.  Some of the reasons are more serious than others so it is important to take a closer look at your dog’s dirty habit.  

The first reason your dog may be consuming dirt is in search of needed vitamins and nutrients.  An unbalanced diet or nutrient-poor dog food may leave your pup looking for more. It is part of your dog’s instinctual nature to survive.  

Check your dog’s food label if you notice they are eating dirt.  Ensure that the ingredients have needed minerals and vitamins. Look for the first ingredients to be meat and natural products.  If insufficient food is the cause of your dog’s dirt-eating, you should notice a change within a few days of changing their diet.  

Another reason your pup may be eating dirt is an upset stomach.  Similar to searching for nutrients, this cause is an instinct to provide more comfort within your pup’s gut.  Even though it sounds rather odd for humans, the clay in the dirt may help soothe digestive problems.  

The dirt can act as sort of a scrubbing agent inside your pup’s digestive tract, helping clear the upsetting material out.   It may be okay if your dog is doing this from time to time. However, be sure to monitor what your dog is eating before the dirt and seek a vet’s opinion if this occurs frequently.  

A third reason your dog may be eating dirt is a serious chronic health issue.  Although it may appear your dog is searching for needed minerals, they may also have an underlying issue such as inflammatory bowel disease.  This could be dangerous for your dog.

This inflammation in your dog’s bowel can lead to bleeding and anemia.  The dirt-eating may be a result of your pup trying to get the minerals that are lost in the bleeding.  If you notice other behavioral changes that take place with the dirt-eating, or if it occurs frequently, be sure to have your dog examined by your vet.  

There are also two less dangerous reasons your dog may be eating dirt.  One is that the dirt is yummy! The other reason is a result of behavioral issues.  

Dogs have a great sense of smell.  What looks like a pile of dirt to us, may also have remnants of hamburger grease or chicken skin.  If your dog is eating dirt around a grill or picnic area, this is likely the cause and will only occur in delicious tasting locations.  

If your dog is eating dirt after being left home alone, or in highly stressful situations, they may simply be trying to manage their feelings.  Just like humans have nervous habits, eating dirt may be a result of boredom or anxiety. 

Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Dirt?

Dirt can contain many dangerous things that could harm your dog, so it is important to address their behavior.  Your dog may ingest large amounts of dirt at one time which can harm their intestinal tract.  

One big danger to your dog is that dirt can contain pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxic chemicals.  If these are ingested in large quantities, your dog could get very sick.  

Another hazard of eating dirt is items such as rocks.  These can harm your dog’s teeth. Rocks that are eaten within the dirt can also obstruct your pup’s throat or intestines.  This obstruction could lead to damage within their digestive tract.  

Another reason for your dog to avoid eating dirt is to prevent worm infestation. Your pets can get worms, such as hookworms and roundworms, through direct contact with the skin when your dog lies on soil infected with worm eggs. There are also many types of parasites that like to make dirt their home.  These, too, can cause health issues for your pup when eaten.

What Do You Do If Your Dog Eats Dirt?

You want to be sure to investigate the cause of your dog’s behavior when you notice they are eating dirt.  Once you have determined the possible cause, you can take action to help eradicate the behavior.    

Since one of the most common reasons your pup may be eating dirt is related to food and nutrients, begin by checking their food.  Be sure that your dog’s food is high in minerals and nutrients. Giving your pups some complete multivitamins may help provide your dog with the lacking nutrients that keep him looking for more.

You also want to consider how long the food has been in the bag. Even high-quality dog food can possess bacteria after sitting in the bag for months on end.  

When your furry friend is always eating dirt, try giving him some digestive supplement like this or this probiotic chews to aid in digestion and may eventually eliminate his habit of eating things he should not be eating at all.

A simple change in your pet’s food may help solve the dirt-eating issue.  If not, be sure that your dog is getting adequate exercise and mental stimulation.  This will help rule out the reason for boredom. Provide your dog with at least one 30-minute walk each day and a selection of toys to explore.  


Your dog eating dirt is more than just a nasty habit.  This behavior could be a sign of possible health concerns or a poor diet

It is important to determine the cause of your dog’s dirt-eating fun and take steps to help them stop. 

If these simple changes do not seem to help take care of the behavior, it is time to consult your vet’s opinion.  Your vet will be able to complete a full analysis and check for any deeper health-related issues.