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Why Does My Dog Eat Soil?
Sometimes my dog eats grass, and the other day he was eating dirt. Is something wrong with him? (Christina West - Virginia)
It is actually relatively common for dogs to eat various parts of the garden, including plants, earth and even rocks! While some aspects of this is simply behavioral, there are some possible medical reasons. You should visit your vet for a thorough examination to rule out any particular ailment, but the primary cause of such behavior is dietary deficiency - talk to your vet about the benefits of certain prescription diets that are best suited to your dog's breed. Some dogs have an instinctive taste for certain substances, sometimes related to a genetic predisposition to a deficiency. For example, some dogs like to eat clay - possibly for its iron content.
On the other hand, remember that a large part of the way dogs explore objects is by using the mouth, and sometimes this role becomes confused and the dog ends up eating something after simply wanting to taste or crunch it. If your vet finds no particular reason for this behavior, and prescription diets do not help, the behavior is probably not based on a medical condition, and can be approached as a training issue. For example, you could try to stop this behavior by punishment with loud noises or by diversion tactics using toys.
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