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Why do dogs eat dirt?

Updated on July 13, 2013

Sometimes dogs do the strangest things. It can be fun to watch and sometimes it may even be a cause for concern. Is your dog eating dirt? If so, you may be wondering why this is. It is not something all dogs do, but some do and there are reasons for why this is. Have a go at this lens if you want to find out more about why dogs eat dirt :)


Dogs eat just about anything; some breeds eat more than others. It was a common joke that a dog would eat even a drawing or a picture of dog food. Pica is the ingestion or eating of non-food materials and substances. These materials have no nutritive values. Dogs eat dirt. Apparently, there are underlying reasons for this abhorrent behavior of our four legged friends.


When dogs are not given enough food to eat may be forced to eat dirt to ease the gnawing in their bellies. This is most common in dogs that are given one meal a day. Scavenging stray dogs can be seen eating dirt.

Mineral Deficiency

Eating dirt is often associated with anemia. Low quality dog foods are most often deficient in nutrients. Dogs seem to have this amazing ability to solve their mineral deficiency concerns. If they don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from their food they simply eat dirt to cope with the shortage.

Health Concerns

You may be giving the pet high quality nutrient rich food but the dog would still eat dirt. The dog may be dealing with a digestive system disorder. Gastrointestinal maldigestive as well as malabsorptive disorders hinders the nutrients of the ingested food from being absorbed by the body thus resulting to nutrient deficiency. Again, the dog will eat dirt to supplement the nutrient insufficiency.

A dog eating dirt may be coping with the increased appetite borne out of having an endocrine disorder. These dogs would crave for food and when none is available would resort to eating dirt.

Abnormal Behavior

Dogs have excellent olfactory capacity that is 40,000 times better than humans. They can smell something interesting in the dirt, they like what they smell and would therefore eat anything that is embedded in the dirt. Eating dirt is also a way by which the dog can gain the owner’s attention. These are sensitive creatures that would crave human companionship especially when there are no other pets in the home. Eating dirt is also a way of manifesting boredom. Some dogs would be destructive when bored. Chewing furniture and carpets, digging and incessant barking are signs that the dog is bored. Some dogs however would eat dirt.

A wakeup call to the owner

If your dog is eating dirt it may be an indication that you need to get a higher quality dog food, you need to feed the dog more frequently and also to give more attention to your pet. Since dirt eating may also be a sign of an illness, visiting a vet may not come amiss.

Videos of dirt eating dogs

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    • profile image

      shelle93 4 years ago

      I have also seen dogs eat grass also. Thank you for answering why dogs eat dirt, this was very informative.

    • PhilVardy profile image

      PhilVardy 4 years ago

      Nice approach to a lens: simply answering a question. Good stuff! :)

    • inkymama profile image

      inkymama 4 years ago

      I was always curious about this-- thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I don't have any dogs, but my cats eat plenty of grass. Enjoyed reading your lens. Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a friend who had a Rotweiller that used to eat dirt. Actually, it wasn't so much the dirt he liked; he would pick the stones out of the dirt and sit there chewing on them. He never swallowed any but he didn't have many teeth left once he was 10 years old.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Wow! Dogs eating dirt -- haven't actually seen that in person. Now, if we could just get dogs to eat weeds, eh? Interesting stuff!

    • profile image

      pamela-coburn-3 5 years ago

      @mdeboard: I would give him food prescribed by the vet.. Brand names often have "fillers" that do not have all the nutrients dogs need. Good Luck!!

    • profile image

      Mit1357 5 years ago

      Mine do not eat dirt but it is useful information.

    • profile image

      wordpress-guru 5 years ago

      interesting :)

    • paddywac profile image

      paddywac 5 years ago

      because they can?

    • profile image

      jimeast1 5 years ago

      @mdeboard: Do you have a cat that might be using your Spaths as a toilet?

    • profile image

      tania-quarmby 5 years ago

      @mary-gray-huneycutt: My situation is exactly the same as mary-gray-huneycutt. Did you get a reply to help solve the problem? I read it could also be the endocrine system.

    • profile image

      designerpuppys 5 years ago

      I have 2 dogs eating dirt. Guess it's the food. Interesting that it's a new food for sensitive digestive systems. And they eat twice a day.

    • profile image

      mark-geldon 5 years ago

      @mdeboard: My beagle started eating soil as he got older. I fed him a high end nutrient rich dog food; but, it still didn't matter. I also fed him twice a day. After his second feeding of the day, he would supplement his evening meal by eating dirt. Brewsco was never sick a day in his long life until at the age of 14 1/2 years old, he suddenly became sick from impending kidney failure. This however is not uncommon in old dogs. His situation was not chronic. It came on quickly; and within a week I had to have him put down.

      I am not saying that your dog may have the same problem. But if I were you, I would the vet perform a physical on your dog. Maybe he will be able to detect a reason for why your dog will eat dirt.

    • profile image

      mdeboard 5 years ago

      My dog eats the dirt out of my indoor Spaths, and it's killing them. I put river rocks in the pots on top of the soil but she still pulls the rocks out to get to the dirt. She is getting pretty old, and I'e had her for years but this has just recently started. I feed her high quality dog food (at least I think it is - it's name brand).

    • profile image

      mary-gray-huneycutt 5 years ago

      Oh yeah, I also keep food in their dish at all times, they can eat when they want

    • profile image

      mary-gray-huneycutt 5 years ago

      OK, I feed my dogs very high quality food, I take them everywhere with me when I am not working, they sleep with me, and they go to the vet twice a year unless something comes up and they need to go for something specific, and I just caught one of them eating dirt. Any other speculations?? He also just began pacing and whining, like a storm was coming, but there isn't any bad weather at all! So I think until they learn how to speak, we aren't going to know.

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      menamero 6 years ago

      My dog eats dirt all the time. I'm pretty sure i give him a good grade of food and i feed him twice a day with treats. He's done this since a pup and he's now 3 3/4 years old. He use to eat rock but never spit them out. He also likes to eat his poop and since that's since he was a pup. If there any suggestions please email me..

    • Gypsyraven LM profile image

      Gypsyraven LM 6 years ago

      Very interesting. I have two dogs and they don't eat dirt, but like to chew on pine cones and rocks. the rocks concern me most, but so far they spit them out. :) thanks for sharing.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 6 years ago from Michigan

      My sister's boxer had a fondness for eating dirt when he was a puppy, but seemed to grow out of it when he reached the age of about two. He never outgrew his habit of licking her living room carpet, though.

    • BuddyShearer profile image

      BuddyShearer 6 years ago

      Great job! Start another lens now.

    • profile image

      CumparaturiOnline 6 years ago

      I haven't seen my dog eating dirt but I did saw him eating cow poo. I don't know if hunger was the reason but It was weird.

    • cuteordeath profile image

      cuteordeath 6 years ago

      My cat eats tape. It's wacky!

    • GoToGirl LM profile image

      GoToGirl LM 6 years ago

      Thank you for this information. Our puppy has started eating dirt and we feed her high quality food. Definitely something to talk to the vet about. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this information, it is helpful.

    • profile image

      thescubadude 7 years ago

      This a really brilliantly written lens! Would you consider doing a guest post for our dog products website blog? I could pay you modest amount for an article.

    • ramonabeckbritman profile image

      Ramona 7 years ago from Arkansas

      Yup, dogs searh for the minerals in dirt. Like your lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      quite interesting ...

    • kimark421 profile image

      kimark421 8 years ago

      I wish Dog #2 of my pack ate dirt! She has picked up another digusting eating habit recently. Great lens! 5*'s

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 8 years ago from New York

      Some good information here. Brief and to the point. Thanks for stopping by my Dogs Eating Chocolate lens. I lensrolled this lens to all of my dog lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Our dog does not eat dirt, butt she has been known to eat other more disgusting stuff!

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 8 years ago from Australia

      Who knows why dogs do anything?

    • WritingforYourW profile image

      WritingforYourW 8 years ago

      I had some snazzy dirt delivered for my garden and the dogs loooove it. Must be the steer manure mixed in with the compost. Good stuff. :P