One of the frustrations as a dog lover is seeing your dog eat dirt and rocks. We spend much money buying the best dog food in the market, and for their quarterly deworming schedule we religiously take our fur babies to the Vet and yet you see them eating dirty things. Sometimes, because of the fear that they might get sick from eating dirt and rocks, you can’t help but freak out. We will know why dogs do this kind of odd conduct in this article and if their health is at risk.
Some say the reason might be due to a bad-conduct such as obsessive-compulsive behavior stemming from a painful and traumatic past. While some say a vitamin deficiency could be the reason. Obviously, those reasons might be true, but let’s take a closer look at the reason behind this strange behavior of dog eating dirt and the possible medical reason.
Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt and Rocks?
1) Mineral Deficiency:
One reason might be that our dogs are lagging in certain nutrients. Our dogs need many kinds of vitamins and minerals besides carbohydrates and proteins that may not be present in the current dog food brand that we feed them. Unfortunately, while we’re giving them the best and high-end kinds of dog food like Orijen Dog Food, it’s almost impossible for the dog food to contain all the minerals our dog needs. That’s why it’s a good idea to alter dog food brands or at least the source of protein at least twice a year to meet their full nutritional needs.
Let me give you an instance, let’s say you’re currently feeding your pooch with Orijen Six Fish Dog Food, why don’t you try to switch to Orijen Regional Red after six months so that your dog can get the red meat minerals (lamb and pork) that aren’t present in the fish? It might be that the bodies of our dogs need extra nutrients that they feel can be found in eating dirt and rocks.
This might also be the case with fur parents feeding their pets with home-made dog food. While this is approved, the nutrients they obtain from home-made cooked dog food are unlikely to be balanced. As a consequence, they are searching for it, but they are searching in the wrong place.
To survive, dogs have an instinctual tendency to look for something that their bodies need, so if you always see your dog eating dirt and rocks, then that could be a sign that you should begin to assess its diet.
2) Upset Stomach:
Our dogs may not feel good that’s why they’re eating dirt and rocks. We may consider this conduct strange, but it’s a healing method for them. We human beings are finding ways to detoxify, and our furry friends are doing that too but in a very distinct manner. Every time they eat rocks, dirt and grass, it might be very relaxing for them. Doing so causes them to throw up anything that upsets their stomach. Parasites are one those that our dogs do not want in their system, thus, they eat something that can make them vomit or purge.
3) Behavioral Problem:
Maybe your dog is just asking for your attention. It might be trying to say to you “hey look, I am eating dirt and rocks, why don’t you come and ask me to stop me?”. In short, if you see your dog eating dirt and rocks, it could be its way to get your attention because it simply wants you to spend some bonding moments with it.
Another probable cause is boredom. Generally, dogs are active creatures, and if they are left with nothing to do, eating dirt and rocks may be a way to entertain themselves.
4) Palatable Dirt and Rocks:
Perhaps there’s something in there that caught your pooch’s attention. Have you just eaten a burger and thrown the garbage bin wrapper inside? The wrapper’s smell might be too irresistible for your dog. So what s dirty to you might be a palatable thing for your dog.
Due to the instinctive nature of dogs, they love to explore, and they prefer those areas that smell good to them which, unfortunately, trash is one of those. For all you know, your trash or rubbish could be your dog’s treasure.
And what about rocks? There could be something buried in there that makes your dog want to find-out. Maybe it is the crunch, or your dog is simply eating anything that it sees aside from food and this bizarre behavior is termed ‘pica’.
When Is Dog Eating Dirt and Rocks Considered A Serious Health Problem?
Eating dirt and rocks does not immediately indicate an emergency situation. Unless it’s done regularly, your dog won’t get sick from it. The only moment you have to worry about this is when you see your dog continually doing this conduct. There may be an underlying medical reason for eating dirt and rocks from your dog.
Dogs can also become anemic. A dog that eats anything other than meat (pica) may actually have some low red blood cell count. Anemia may be triggered by blood loss triggered by injury or surgery. It may also be due to a bone marrow disease.
If your dog eats too much rock and dirt, it is best to let it undergo a blood test to find out if it has low red blood cells count.
Canine diabetes comes in two categories, your dog may have Diabetes Insipidus or the Diabetes Mellitus second classification. Diabetes Insipidus happens when the hypophyseal gland does not release the anti-diuretic vasopressin hormone. Or, it may also be because the kidneys do not respond well to the hormone of vasopressin.
On the other hand, diabetes mellitus is due to obesity. Regardless of which type of diabetes a dog has, one of the signs commonly seen is pica or eating anything other than food.
The primary reason your pooch may suffer from this health issue is due to the thread gland’s overproduction of thyroxine. One of the indications you’ll notice is over-eating, meaning the dog will ingest anything it sees, and rock is one of those stuff.
Other serious problems that may cause your dog to eat dirt and rocks are the following:
- Stomach tumor
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Neurological diseases
Your Vet should examine your dog thoroughly to determine if its rock and dirt-eating behavior is something to worry about or not.
How to Stop Dog from Eating Dirt and Rocks?
It won’t occur overnight to stop your dog from eating dirt and rocks. The first thing to do is to ask a veterinarian to detect the underlying conduct. Your dog will be examined carefully to determine whether it has any medical problems that need to be resolved instantly, such as diabetes. If the reason isn’t too severe, however, there are measures you can take to lessen or prevent your pooch’s pica conduct.
Regardless if the cause is serious or not, dogs eating dirt and rocks may have the following problems:
- Blockage in its intestine
- Internal Bleeding
So do something about this behavior by trying the tips below:
1) If the cause is due to mineral deficiency:
You might want to think about offering a bone to your dog. Do you offer a raw bone to your dog? I realize you’ve heard that it’s not a good idea because our dogs can be shocked by raw bone, but did you know that our dogs can profit greatly from sometimes eating bones?
Let me enlighten you how bones can fill-up the mineral deficiency of our dogs:
- It has loads of mineral calcium which may not be found in commercial dog food. Calcium is necessary for their bones and teeth.
- It adds the mineral phosphorous for healthy functioning of their kidneys.
- Bones can make their gums healthier.
How do you serve bones to your pooch?
First, make sure that bones are given the correct size, a bone that is too tiny can cause shock. Second, don’t overcook the bones, as a fully cooked bone tends to be softer and can be easily crushed by your dog, which could result in inner harm. Third, with some meat and cartilage connected to it, you can offer raw bones. Beef bone is a good choice. Stay away from the lamb and bones of the poultry as they tend to break easily.
Now that you know how bones can add to the mineral deficiency in your dog’s diet, go ahead and give your dog that bone it has been begging for a long time!
2) If the cause is due to an upset stomach:
Deworming must take place every three months. But as in the situation of working dogs, other risk factors may require you to deworm your dog more often. Deworm your dog against roundworms, hookworms, flatworms, and heartworms.
3) If the cause is a behavioral problem:
Because boredom is one of the behavioral issues to address, leave your dog with some recreational toys to keep it busy and forget to eat dirt and rocks. Chew Dog Toys and Dog Rope Toys are indestructible.
Spending longer hours with your pooch may also resolve the issue as eating dirt and rocks may be a sign attention-getting behavior.
What about taking your dog to an animal behaviorist to resolve the issue of obsessive-compulsive disorder? This is an obsession with doing something repeatedly for hours, such as eating dirt and rocks.
4) Other things to do to stop this behavior:
- It’s almost impossible to remove rocks, but you can try to associate rocks with something uncomfortable like vinegar spray or pet spray. Your dog will start looking at rocks as’ unpleasant stimuli’ in this manner. Try using Grannicks Bitter Apple Taste Deterrent for Dogs or Emmy’s Stop the Deterrent for Dogs Chew Bitter Spray. These items are 100% safe and can be sprayed on almost anything for both indoor and outdoor use.
- Teach your dog how to drop an object at your command.
Dogs ‘ conduct of eating dust and rocks may not be a severe condition, but it does not mean it should be permitted. Dirt and rocks are bacteria sources. Not to forget that rocks may have toxic chemicals such as fungicide that are poisonous. If the Vet does not discover any severe medical condition, you could prevent your dog from eating dirt and rocks by paying attention to the following:
- Give it a balanced diet
- Spend time with your dog for mental and emotional stimulation
- Give it preventive medicines for parasites
- Exercise it in order not to get bored