Why does my dog ​​eat dirt? Main reasons

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Seeing a dog lick or eat dirt in a timely and therefore anecdotal way is not worrying. It may be due to some substance or odor, unnoticed by us, that permeates this land and is attractive to it.

But when the dog regularly ingests dirt, we are facing a problem that may have a physical or psychological origin. And to correct the problem we must investigate until we find its origin. Let’s see in detail what are the main reasons why dogs eat dirt.

Index of contents

  • 1 The pike
  • 2 Nutrient deficiency
  • 3 Malabsorption syndrome
  • 4 Hunger
  • 5 Psychological problems
  • 6 Separation anxiety
  • 7 What are the dangers of eating dirt?

The pike

Eat dirt can be included in the disorder known as pica. This is characterized by the intake of inedible substances. Among them is everything. Paint, stones, ashes, chalk, paper, glue, plaster, and also the earth.

Virtually anything that can be swallowed and lacks nutritional value is included in this disorder. It is not clear why a dog performs this behavior. Different hypotheses have been used to explain it.

Nutrient deficiency

At first eating dirt was related to a lack of nutrients that led the dog to consume any material within its reach in order to complete its diet. But the truth is that, at present, the wide extension of commercial dog diets allows that, even those of lesser quality, constitute an acceptable food.

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Therefore we can rule out the lack of nutrients, unless the dog suffers from diseases such as malabsorption, Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes or hyperthyroidism. This type of improper intake is also mentioned in severe cases of intestinal parasite infestations. These dogs would not absorb the necessary nutrients.

For this reason, when ingesting soil, a stool examination, that is, a stool analysis, and regular internal and external deworming are recommended in the first place. Parasites such as fleas can spread worms to dogs.

  • Intestinal worms in dogs


Malabsorption syndrome

This type of inadequate intake has been linked to the disorder known as malabsorption syndrome. Usually is due to a problem that has affected the function of the pancreas or small intestine. As its name suggests, it will affect the absorption of nutrients.

For this reason, the dog can eat normally, and even voraciously and in quantity, but it will always be hungry because it cannot take advantage of the nutrients in the food. These dogs, in addition, will lose weight, even if they eat well, and will evacuate diarrhea, abundant and with fat content.

Likewise, the hair of the anal area can acquire an oily appearance. Any of these signs should make us suspect malabsorption. It is reason to go to the vet, since this professional is the one who must examine the dog and do the pertinent tests to locate the origin of the problem and to be able to put treatment on it.

  • Complete information on malabsorption syndrome


Although, fortunately, dogs are not usually hungry, they have been collected abandoned dogs that, in extreme situations, had eaten dirt to survive for being the only thing they had. The earth can be seen in the stomach if, for some reason, the animal is X-rayed.

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Psychological problems

Among the hypotheses that try to explain why a dog ingests dirt, we cannot ignore the psychological aspect. It is thought that a dog going through a high stress situation can develop behaviors such as improper intake, in a demonstration of frustration, anxiety or boredom.

In these cases, eating any substance, such as dirt, is part of a picture that may include other behaviors such as separation anxiety or other destructive activities.

  • Psychological diseases that affect dogs

Separation anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety cry, bark or howl as soon as they are alone. They destroy any object within their reach, evacuate inside the home and ingest different materials. A dog in this situation must go to the vet to rule out physical problems. If he is healthy, the resolution is to review the dog’s lifestyle.

It is necessary to detect the manifestly improvable aspects. What it is about is providing you with living conditions that fully respect your biological needs. This requires implementing several basic measures, beyond adequate food or accommodation according to its size.

The dog needs daily attention. It is a herd animal that cannot live alone. They must be able to socialize and carry out regular and sufficient physical and intellectual activity depending on their characteristics. You cannot live confined. To improve these aspects we can count on the help of specialized veterinaryns, dog educators or ethologists.

  • All about separation anxiety

What are the dangers of eating dirt?

In addition to being a potential sign of physical or psychological disorders, ingesting soil itself can compromise dog health. In the earth it is possible to find different types of parasites, such as intestinal worms, which will end up in the dog’s digestive system, causing its infestation. Some of these parasites affect humans.

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The soil, even without parasites, can trigger digestive discomfort of greater or lesser severity such as decomposition, diarrhea or vomiting. The table will be more important if, on top, that land contains any potentially toxic substance such as insecticides, antifreeze, fertilizers, etc.