Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt?

Andie eating dirt and roots in the woods.
Do your dogs ever eat dirt or other "weird" stuff?  Mine do.  Why do dogs eat dirt?  I did a search on Google to see what kinds of information were available.

One article on Squidoo offered several possible explanations.  But when I considered my dogs' behavior, I'm not sure I agree with any of them:  Pica, Hunger, Mineral Deficiency, Health Concerns and other Abnormal Behavior were all described.

Pica is simply the ingestion or eating of non-food materials and substances.  Over the years, I've noticed that my dogs are "particular" about the dirt they eat.  They always choose areas where there is a lot of rich, decaying matter ... especially where there are roots.  So I've always believed that they were supplementing their diet with whatever minerals or other nutrients are found in this type of soil.

Another explanation offered was simple hunger.  This was applied to dogs who don't get enough to eat (strays and neglected dogs), or dogs who are only fed once a day.  I feed my dogs twice a day, plus they get daily treats.  While my dogs aren't fat and definitely aren't obese, my vet sometimes gives me "the look" after weighing them during an exam.  This "look" means I need to watch their caloric intake ... that they are on their way to being slightly overweight.   oops .....

"Health concerns" was another possibility, namely digestive issues.  In other words, the dog isn't able to properly absorb the nutrients from its food.  While I can't know for sure if my dogs are digesting their food properly, I've added digestive enzymes to their food at every feeding for years.

I had to chuckle at the next explanation:  "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."  Not only do I share my life with 5 dogs, but I adore them all and no one could ever say they are not getting enough attention.

Sammi waits his turn as Ripley eats all the good stuff.
The last explanation offered seemed to be the most likely in my case ... that dogs eat dirt to make up for vitamin and mineral deficiencies in their food.  Although I buy "premium" dog food, it is likely that certain nutrients are missing.  

I would love to be able to afford to feed my dogs a completely natural, raw and organic diet.  I know that the vast majority of "over the counter" dog foods lack sufficient Omega 3 oils; for years, I have added Cod liver oil, a very affordable source of Omega 3s, to their daily feedings to help make up for this.

Only Natural Pet EasyRaw Chicken & Oats 2 lbs
The most affordable raw diet I've come across is from
Only Natural Pet Store.  I started feeding it to my
dogs once a day in March 2013 and have been very happy with
the results... my dogs love it and my pickiest, Sammi,
has shown an overall increase in improved appetite
even when he gets regular, dry food.
Just click on the photo to learn more about
"Easy Raw" dog food from Only Natural Pet Store.

There are multiple benefits of fish oil:  adding it to your dog's food may prevent and cure skin allergies.  My dog, Brittany (R.I.P), suffered from severe "itchies" every summer.  But once I started to give her fish oil ... every day, 365 days a year ... she never displayed allergy symptoms again for the rest of her life.  I started giving her fish oil when she was about 8-years-old ... she lived to the ripe old age of 15.

Another benefit of fish oil (Omega 3's) is a shiny, healthy coat.  If a dog's skin is healthy, so will her coat.  All of my dogs have soft, silky coats that are a pleasure to touch.

And just like for humans, fish oil is good for your dog's heart and brain function.

Andie had to get a few extra bites.

So, was my question answered?  Why do dogs eat dirt?   ... well, maybe it's just because they LIKE dirt!

1 comment:

  1. He's eating dirt because of SBP's (Soil Based Probiotics), which are naturally found in dirt. Humans also eat dirt (along with fruit and vegetables not treated with pesticides). You can see that he's choosing dark dirt, about 2-3 inches in depth - to avoid any parasite eggs on the surface, and the probiotics love the roots of grass and other plants. So, it's not hunger and it's not nutrients, since no mammal can absorb nutrients from soil.


Comments and Feedback are always welcome, as long as you follow one rule: Be the person your dog thinks you are (or cat, bunny, ferret, horse ...)