Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt?

Dogs are very curious animals. Moreover, you might even wonder why they nibble on almost everything that you might not even want to think about. Some dogs even like to eat poop, while others enjoy eating grass. Furthermore, your dog might prefer the taste of dirt. This makes you wonder, “Why does my dog eat dirt?” Let’s find out in this article.


Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt?

You are probably wondering about the reasons behind this behavior once you observe that your dog is actually eating dirt. Moreover, you might even get disgusted, especially if your dog likes to lick your face and hand. There are many reasons why your dog might want to eat dirt. Here are the most common reasons that you might encounter:

Nutritional Deficiency or Insufficiency

Dirt being as it is contains various nutrients and minerals. This allows plants to grow and there are also some organic matters in the dirt that gives its nutrients. But, dogs aren’t plants, so the nutrients that they can get from dirt might not be safe for them.

Dogs may sense that dirt contains the nutrients that they need in their bodies. Moreover, if they aren’t getting enough nutrients due to poor-quality dog foods, then you might want to consider modifying the diet of your dog to prevent it from craving for dirt. Also, some human food isn’t healthy for dogs and this may also cause them to crave dirt.

Health Problems

Certain health problems may prevent the absorption of certain nutrients in the body of your dog. Moreover, some metabolic illnesses can prevent your dog from obtaining the right nutrients from the food that it needs. First of all, you have to get the health of your dog checked by a veterinarian if your dog has developed a habit of eating dirt, so any health issue may be ruled out as an underlying cause of this behavior.

Health may affect the overall behavior of your dog. So, if you suspect that a health problem is causing this odd behavior, then it might be time to visit your vet. Common health problems that may cause your dog to eat dirt are as follows:

  • Tumors (hemangiosarcomas)
  • Anemia
  • Internal or external parasitic infection/infestation
  • Internal ulcers
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Bone marrow dysfunction
  • Kidney problems
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Pancreatitis

Your Dog Likes the Smell and Taste of Dirt

Dogs may be fascinated with the taste and smell of dirt. However, this doesn’t mean that eating dirt is normal behavior that is only similar to a dog eating grass. Besides, eating dirt may not be safe for dogs and this may also cause intestinal parasites, like worms. Even though your dog may enjoy eating dirt, it puts them at risk for various diseases.

Dirt may contain residue of various food, fruits and organic matter that might entice the dog to eat it. That is why you have to supervise your dog when outdoors at all times. The smell and taste of dirt vary depending on the location and certain soil parameters might be tempting to your dog that may lead your dog to eat it.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Some dogs may have behavioral problems, so attention seeking-behavior may also be one of the reasons why your dog eats dirt. Also, if it triggers a panic response in humans or any form of attention, your dog may begin to develop the habit of eating dirt to get noticed. This behavior isn’t normal, as well as extreme attention-seeking behavior.

Digestive Problems

If your dog is experiencing indigestion, your dog may resort to various ways in an attempt to “heal” themselves. Moreover, some dog breeds are predisposed to having sensitive stomachs, so their stomach easily gets upset if they eat too fast or if a new food is suddenly introduced. When your dog is experiencing digestion problems, it may cause diarrhea and regurgitation.

When diarrhea and regurgitation occurs, it may lead to nutrient and electrolyte imbalance that may cause your dog to crave for dirt. Your dog may eat dirt in an attempt to fix their digestive problems. If your dog is not getting enough fiber, then indigestion is more likely to occur and thus, dirt cravings.

Risks of Eating Dirt

Dirt contains a lot of nutrients and other organic matter. However, eating dirt may cause certain health problems in your dog. If your dog is habitually ingesting dirt, then you may have to deworm your dog more frequently to manage the potential parasitic infection. Here are the common risks attributed to eating dirt:

  • Intestinal parasites
  • Stomach upset
  • Fungal infection
  • Impaction
  • Poisoning

How to Prevent Dogs From Eating Dirt

First of all, make sure that your dog is in good health. Then you can prevent your dog from eating dirt with proper training. However, if your dog is very fixated on eating dirt, then this might be easier said than done. You can easily train a puppy to leave dirt alone in case they want to taste it, but a fixated adult dog might be more stubborn to manage.

You may opt to have your dog trained by a professional trainer, to prevent it from eating dirt. On the other hand, if you have the patience, focus, and dedication to stop your dog from eating dirt, you may want to consider getting a training collar to help with the training process.


So, if anyone asks you “Why does my dog eat dirt?” then you can confidently say the causes and possible solutions to this dirt-eating behavior in dogs. Furthermore, now you also know the possible solution to address this bizarre behavior, such as dealing with any health concern together with proper training.

About the author

Sarah Andrews

Hi I'm Sarah, dog lover and blogger. I was born into a dog-loving family and have been a proud doggy mommy ever since I can remember. I love sharing my dog knowledge and love being an active part of the dog-loving community.