I was puzzled when my dogs suddenly wanted clay after they started digging in the yard last summer. It wasn’t harmful for them. Is it a sign of a nutritional deficit or parasites? My research turned up surprising theories about geophagia (the clinical term for eating or drinking clay).
Why do Dogs Eat Dirt?
Dogs can eat dirt, just like humans and other mammals. Dogs might be searching for nutrients or sedatives to help with intestinal issues. Or they may simply love the smell. It is fascinating to observe that soil often harbors parasites. Clay eating could cause a cycle in parasitic infection. Humans or dogs eat soil to nourish their stomachs. They also become infected with parasites like hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms. To eliminate the possibility of soil eating, it is a good idea to conduct a fecal exam on your dog. The possibility of dirt eating due to toxicity in the dog’s environment is even more alarming.
To find out the reason for my dog’s clay-eating behavior, I studied the geophagia theories and compared them to my pet. All of them were not pregnant and there were no parasites in their feces. They are very specific about the clay they consume. Clay is not something they will eat from any other dirt. The clay they eat comes only from one little hole in their backyard. Like many other dogs, clay is only consumed during the summer. Their dirt intake begins in spring and continues into the middle of summer. In the fall, clay consumption slows down and winter brings little clay interest.
We live in suburban areas where neighbors regularly apply pesticides and fertilizer throughout the year to the lawns. This appears to coincide with my dogs’ geophagia. The National Cancer Institute linked pesticides and commercial herbicides to an increase in certain canine deadly cancers, such as hemangiosarcoma. My dogs and other clay eaters in suburban and urban environments could be absorbing toxins through walks and runoff into their yards. In the spring and early summer, they resort to clay-eating to detoxify. These situations would make clay eating an adaptive behavior that will hopefully be successful for all clay-loving canines. It is important to examine any changes that you made in your yard or floor cleaning if your dog recently started clay eating. For your neighbor, don’t give her too much soil. It will spice up her potatoes and finish off her day.
The Dangers Of Dirt
You should be aware that your dog can eat dirt every day. One of these risks is impaction of your dog’s intestines if your dog eats excessively. Impaction can often mean surgery. Dr. Coger states that dirt may also contain pesticides, fertilisers, or other toxic substances. If enough dirt is ingested, it could cause poisoning. “Depending on the dirt’s composition, dental damage and wear could be a concern.” For example, dirt that has rocks could cause damage to the dog’s teeth, cause obstruction in the throat, or cause blockages in any part of the digestive tract. You should be aware that sharp objects could puncture your dog’s stomach, throat, intestines, and throat. You may also get a parasite from the dirt and this could lead to additional health issues.
Dr. Coger states, “I would also add that any unnatural behavior, like dirt eating, should immediately be addressed.” “Both due to possible serious underlying causes as well as before it becomes an established habit. Dogs learn from the other dogs in their house and who wants a house full of dirt eaters?
How to prevent dogs from eating dirt
Your veterinarian should be consulted if you are concerned that your dog may be eating too much dirt. You can also make sure that your dog gets enough exercise to reduce boredom and dirt eating. Dr. Coger states that “denying your dog access to their favorite dirt-eating areas might be necessary” if all else fails. You should never ignore dirt eating as it could indicate something more.