As a dog owner, you are probably used to your dog trying to eat a variety of different things; however, if your dog has begun to eat soil from your potted plants, you might be wondering if this is a cause for concern.
Your dog could be eating soil from plant pots for several reasons, including boredom, stress, or more serious gastrointestinal issues. While this is not unusual behavior, it is wise to stop your dog from doing so because of the possibility that they could eat pesticides or ingest parasites.
Dogs eating potting soil is not an abnormal occurrence, but it will need to be stopped. Keep reading to learn more about the reasons behind your dog’s newfound appetite and to discover some strategies that can keep your dog from continuing to eat soil from your plants.
Behavioral Reasons Why Dogs Eat Soil From Plant Pots
Although it might not seem like the most appetizing snack, potting soil has numerous factors that can make it appealing to your dog. Some of these reasons are because of the way that your dog behaves.
One reason that your dog might resort to eating potting soil is that he or she is bored. Dogs are highly intelligent animals, and if your dog does not have enough mental stimulation in the form of toys or activities, he or she may start to eat soil if there is nothing else that is accessible.
Wish For Attention
Your dog is your biggest fan, and they might be eating potting soil because they have learned that you pay attention to them when they do so.
It may seem counterintuitive, but even when you scold your dog, you still may be giving them the attention that they crave. Additionally, if eating potting soil causes you to chase your dog or take part in other active behavior, he or she may come to see this as part of a fun game.
Your dog might just like the taste of dirt, especially if the potting soil is near the kitchen, a grill, or some other area where it could somehow be contaminated by food.
Soil is filled with various intriguing smells for dogs, and so they might see potting soil as appealing to their diets or develop a liking for it.
Health Reasons Why Dogs Eat Soil From Plant Pots
It is also possible that your dog could be eating soil because he or she is having internal symptoms that are causing the dirt to seem appealing.
Your dog may be eating dirt because he or she is not getting the proper nutrients from their normal diet. When dogs do not receive the right nutrients in their everyday diet, this can lead to the following issues:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Mineral Deficiencies
Potting soil is often fortified with different vitamins and minerals to keep plants healthy. Dogs may smell these substances and seek out the soil as a snack that can supplement their dietary imbalance.
Your dog may also be eating potting soil because he or she has gastrointestinal problems that the potting soil helps soothe.
Dogs commonly eat grass when they have an upset stomach because it helps them detox through either vomiting or aiding digestion. Eating potting soil is likely their way of trying to eat plants or detox.
Canine Compulsive Disorders
Eating dirt can also be symptomatic of canine obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which can impact your dog’s overall well-being. Dogs suffering from OCD often display unexpected behavioral tendencies as they cope with stress in their environments and lifestyles.
Although it might not seem like a very concerning thing, compulsive behavior in dogs can get worse over time and result in chronic and destructive behaviors unless they are treated early.
Is It Concerning That My Dog Eats Soil From Plant Pots?
Besides being a sign that something is slightly wrong with your dog, if dogs eat too much soil, it can also lead to potentially dangerous impacts on their health. Dogs usually will not immediately see adverse impacts from eating dirt, but if they eat too much, they may be harmed.
Potting soil is often treated with various chemicals that could potentially be poisonous to your dog. These can include the following:
- Other toxins
If ingested in large amounts, these contaminants could make your dog severely ill. If you notice that your dog has been eating a lot of potting soil that you know has been treated with pesticides or other chemicals, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Some soil is made from manure or other substances that can carry pesticides. When your dog eats the soil, they could be ingesting parasite eggs that could take hold in their stomach and lead to potential health hazards such as weight loss or illness.
Sometimes potting soil can contain small rocks or other hard debris. When consumed, this can cause damage to your dog’s teeth or intestines, potentially leading to internal bleeding or difficulties eating or chewing.
If your dog eats a large amount of dirt, it can become impacted, meaning that digestion stops when something builds up in a high amount in the intestines.
Beyond being uncomfortable, impaction can also cause lasting damage to your dog’s internal organs and can even result in severe illness or the need for emergency surgery if the problem becomes too severe.
If your dog is showing signs of distress or impaction, contact a veterinarian immediately.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Soil From Plant Pots?
With these consequences in mind, you might be wondering what you can do to correct your dog’s behavior. Fortunately, there are many strategies to keep your dog away from your plant pots.
Keep Your Dog Entertained
If you suspect your dog is eating soil out of boredom, make sure that your dog has enough toys and healthy sources of entertainment within your house. You may wish to invest in toys designed specifically for dogs to divert their attention away from your plant pots.
If the problem mostly occurs when you are away from the house, you might consider enrolling your dog in a daycare program where they can stay entertained and occupied in your absence.
Train Their Behavior
Another option to directly address a dog’s tendency to eat soil is to train them not to. Your dog may respond well to various training styles that keep its attention away from potting soil and praise him or her for choosing to do more healthy things instead.
Talk to a trusted trainer or professional about how you can healthily discourage your dog from eating potting soil.
Check Their Food
If you suspect your dog’s soil-eating is a result of nutrient deficiency, look at the type of food you are feeding them. Investigate what vitamins and minerals the food contains.
It may be helpful to experiment with different brands of food to see if this causes your dog to stop eating potting soil. You can also add supplements or canine probiotics to their diets once you identify where the deficiency is.
Talk to Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian may have some ideas where your dog is lacking nutrients and can also run tests on your dog to see if he or she is anemic.
Your veterinarian can also provide helpful suggestions on different supplements that you can use to make sure your dog is staying happy and healthy and avoiding your potting soil.
Cover The Soil
When you are away from the house, you can directly cover the soil with something difficult for your dog to move. This will prevent them from eating potting soil when you are not there to supervise them.
Whatever you choose to cover the soil with, make sure it is nontoxic and that your dog will not be able to remove it.
Move Your Plants
This may seem obvious, but keeping your plants out of your dog’s reach may be the easiest way to stop them from eating the soil.
Place your plants in an area that is difficult for your dog to access. This can include:
- Rooms that are closed off to your dog
When your dog is no longer able to access your plants, he or she may lose interest in their quest to eat potting soil. Remember to still investigate your dog’s nutritional needs, though, as dietary deficiencies will not disappear just because your plants are gone.
It is always surprising when a dog shows a new behavior, and especially when the behavior is dietary, you may wonder if there is cause for concern. When dogs eat potting soil from plant pots, they may be demonstrating that something is missing from their behavioral or dietary needs.
Fortunately, many strategies can keep your dog from eating potting soil and all the negative consequences that can result from this behavior. Do some experimenting to determine why your dog is eating potting soil, and then act to make sure the behavior is corrected.
With your time and attention, your dog will soon be back to eating the foods and treats that are