Why does my dog eat dirt?
Even after you think you know your dog so well, there are a lot of his habits that baffle you no end. Your pet snacking on straight up dirt is sure one of them. Dirt eating is a form of what is termed ‘pica’, the ingestion of non food materials. This could be a sign of either nutritional deficiency or behavioral disorder or both depending upon canine to canine. While it is harmful to the overall health of your fur pal, it irritates you more because it is so disgusting to watch him feed on dirt. Waggfluence cares for your fur baby and we advise you not to take this lightly as it could indicate some serious underlying issues in some cases. Even if it is not a serious one, you need to stop this habit out of hygiene issues as well. After all as responsible pet parents we do not encourage any behavior that comes under the category of being called weird.
The dangers of dirt eating
If you are letting your dog continually eat dirt, the first and foremost risk is impaction to the intestine. Since all that non food item is not digestible, it results in hardened stool that gets stuck in the body due to long term constipation. Sometimes this gets so serious that there isn’t a way out other than surgical procedures.
The dirt could also be a host to various parasites which get ingested along with the dirt and cause serious health implications. The presence of pesticides, fertilizers or other toxins could be an additional harm to the body and pose threat to normal functioning of the gastrointestinal system. Dental damage or wear could be another matter of concern depending on the dirt that your dog is consuming. If the dirt has pieces of broken rocks, it not only could cause damage to your dog’s teeth but also cause obstruction in the throat or any place along the digestive tract. Imagine what kind of pain it would be if sharp sticks in the dirt find way in your dog’s mouth which has the potential risk of puncturing the linings of their mouth, throat, intestine or stomach.
Causes of eating dirt by dogs
Both physical and nutritional disorders could be a cause of dogs eating dirt or any other non food item. The vets suggest not to take this lightly and try to decipher the exact cause that leads them to exhibit this behavior. It could be a sign of anemia which is low red blood cell count which when left untreated could lead to weakness and a host of other diseases. Nutritional imbalance or deficiency of certain minerals could also boost the habit of dogs snacking on dirt. Ensure that you provide him a well balanced diet which is of good quality as well because low quality food is also known to trigger this habit in dog. Make sure that your dog is not having a recurring upset stomach or any other gastrointestinal disorder because it is the natural tendency of dogs to eat dirt if they suffer from these problems. In this case canines are more likely to seek grass and no other form of dirt.
How to stop them from eating dirt
If you notice your dog’s urge to snack on dirt not going away even after you reprimand him for such behavior or move him away to distract from this habit, it is better to seek advice from your vet. Any cause of nutritional imbalance will be checked by the vet and in case of any deficiency your pet may be put on alternative diet or additional supplements. If all this is well, then the problem could be behavioral. Make sure your dog is not feeling neglected and is resorting to dirt eating to seek your attention. Sometimes this habit stems from boredom, so get him to have plenty of physical and mental exercises. Getting him some good dog toys would be a great idea. Try Waggfluence dog chewing rubber ball or get Waggfluence automatic dog tennis ball launcher to keep them engaged and to distract them effectively. If you notice that there is a favorite spot in the backyard or park where your dog seeks out dirt, deny access to such areas to curb their urge to eat dirt.
Any new, unnatural habit of your pets should be acted on quickly as leaving it unnoticed may turn it into a habit hard to give up. The earlier it is resolved, the easier it is to do so. If dirt eating is frequent or becomes intense or manic in nature, or large quantities are consumed, then it is time to take immediate steps by taking them to a vet. The vet may undergo some blood tests to pin point the exact cause and it will get easier to resolve. There is no need to worry about this habit as it is fairly common in dogs. Just take the necessary precautions and it is all dealt with easily. Stay calm and cool and do not lose your patience with your fur baby. Happy pet parenting!