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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19552
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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We have a little pup, she will be 6 months this months, she

Customer Question

We have a little pup, she will be 6 months this months, she has a habit which bothers me a lot: she eats dirt...first I thought it is mulch that attracts her, she likes sticks, plays with them, chews... but she eat dirt from my home plants! not just to dig and create mess, she eats it... Any reason for doing that? It is my 4th dog and none of my previous dogs did such things...
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the dog's name?
Customer: Bailey
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Bailey?
Customer: We have very close contact with vets... unfortunately... she broke her hip, the surgery was a week ago. I will ask them this question about dirt...we were not about this subject last week, shocked with her injury
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner, but can you tell me:

How long has she been eating dirt?

What is she fed?

Are her gums pink or white/pale? Moist or sticky?

Any retching, gagging, lip licking, drooling, or vomiting?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
We adopted her after Christmas, she was 2 months old, I saw her eating dirt in a park. Soil is almost always moist here, we live in SF, night heavy fogs is a norm. Later she discovered that she is able to reach dirt in home plants, just grew up... she was digging each occasion when nobody is watching her... and her mouth was full of dirt! It seems she likes organic pot mix. No vomiting, no other problems, looked very happy all times...Her food is a mix of dry and wet from cans or pockets. She had good appetite, looked pretty healthy, grew fast, almost 4 times bigger now compare to that little pup at Christmas time. We had to deworm her 3 times already. I guess she gets them from this habit. She is on recovery after serious surgery, broke her hip a week ago. Now it's no options to dig anything at the moment but she seems having worms... and I am not sure we should give her medication now, she got enough painkillers this week.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

Hello again,

Now we can see dirt eating behaviour for a few different reasons. I am glad to hear that she hasn't any GI upset, as nausea (even low grade) can trigger this. As well, it is good she is on a balanced diet so we can exclude nutritional drives to eat dirt. Though I would note that we can see it with anemia (lowered red blood cell levels) and that can be secondary to worms. So, it would be ideal to worm her just now but if she is under strict rest post injury, that could be delayed provided the plant pots are out of reach.

Otherwise, we can see this as a behavioural issue and that is most common in pups. They can by motivated to carry out the behaviour as a means of attention seeking, as a self-rewarding behaviour when they find proteinaceous items (ie worms, bugs),and also we do find that some dogs do like the flavour or texture of dirt. In regards ***** ***** these, as they can be rooted in natural behaviour, it can be tricky. You may need to put mesh over the soil in the pots to block her access and use a basket muzzle to deter the behaviour when she is out. As she gets older and you start working on behaviour training, you will be able to deter the behaviour that way. And if she is stubborn then sometimes adding non-palatable additives to dirt she has the most access to (ie in your house plants) like cayenne pepper, vinegar or OTC pet safe garden deterrents can teach them that dirt eating isn't tasty and thus make them less keen to seek it out to eat generally.

Kind regards,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** is a great idea! No harm for plants, no joy for the pup to eat it... I was worrying maybe she has some disorder and looks for some compaunds in dirt. I don't know her ancestry, she grew up looking like some mix of a wippet and chicuahua, very long legs, gentle bone structure, favorite activity was jumping...she broke her hip, nobody knows how, but it was expected seeing her flying from couch to couch tossing toys.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 month ago.

You are very welcome, my dear.

Poor love to have hurt herself so severely, but hopefully since she is young she will be quick to heal. And then we can focus on her behaviour training so we can nip her cheeky dirt eating habits in the bud.

Best wishes,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond.

**Please rate me by clicking on the **stars** at the top of the page as this is the only way the site credits me for helping you!: )