Why Is My Old Dog Suddenly Eating Dirt? (4 Reasons)

Why Is My Old Dog Suddenly Eating Dirt

Dogs are active pets that love to run, bark, and play with anything they can find.


They are notorious for eating any food they can find, even if it is not food!


They will eat things such as mud or dirt just because they smell good enough in their minds.


If your dog only eats dirt, then he might have geophagia which is the practice of eating nonfood items like soil and clay.


One of the most common reasons an older dog might eat dirt is that they lack essential nutrients. Pets need a diet rich in protein and fat to keep their coat healthy, but pet owners often compromise on quality ingredients because of budget constraints.

This can lead to hair loss, dry skin, and a weakened immune system – all symptoms that could prompt your old dog to turn towards eating dirt as an alternative source for these minerals. 


Your old dog could have gone through painful experiences in the past that made him develop the habit, or he could be developing mental problems.


It can also be brought about by an underlined pathology, mineral deficiency, or gastric upset.


This blog post will discuss the reasons behind your pet’s sudden desire to eat dirt and how you can stop them from doing so without having to resort to force-feeding or punishment.


Four Reasons Why Your Dog Loves Eating Dirt 

senior dog eating dirt


1. Nutritional Deficiency 

Your old dog finds dirt to be appetizing because the diet you’re giving him lacks the nutrients needed in his body.

Eating dirt is a pica disorder which is a state in which dogs eat things other than food.


This usually occurs when a dog’s body is mineral deficient or is suffering from nutritional imbalance.

Says Carol.


Dry dog foods lack the essential nutrients a dog needs to be happy and healthy, while some brand flavors are too plain and boring to your dog.


Nutritional deficiencies can be due to an underlined medical concern. If the deranged appetite persists, consider a diet change and seek guidance from your veterinarian.


2. Underlying Health Problem

Eating dirt is an indicator of serious medical conditions that your old dog is going through, such as anemia or liver disease.

Anemia in old dogs results from inflammations in the bowel, which causes bleeding along with the bowel and chronic wounds.


This decreases the absorption of essential B vitamins.

Dogs with this condition tend to eat dirt to get more minerals to help deal with the anemia.


Other causes of anemia include:

  • Bleeding tumors
  • Ulcers
  • Parasites


Bleeding tumors cause anemia.

Internal parasites such as hookworms attach to the intestinal lining and suck blood, thereby causing anemia too.

These are serious medical conditions that require you to organize a checkup and consult a veterinarian promptly.



Learn More:



3. Dirt Smells Good  

One unique thing about dogs is their high level of sensitivity to smell.

Your old dog will eat mud or dirt when he smells food leftovers that spilled on the ground.

He can eat dirt just because it smells good to him, which is just natural.


 If a dog is eating dirt, the owner needs to check the area to find out if there’s something that the dog is trying to get to. This would make sense if the dog keeps going back to the particular area like under a grill

says Morgan.


4. Your Old Dog Is Bored

Dogs can exhibit this wired behavior of feeding on dirt when they are bored.


You shouldn’t be shocked. It’s just the same case with humans who behave strangely when bored.


When you lock your old dog at home the whole day and deny him proper exercise and play, don’t get surprised when you see him eating dirt – the mud, the smelly trash, it’s just out of pure boredom that he does that.


Engage your dog with something that engages his mind and body daily.


Remember, dogs too, just like humans, need to be occupied with duties daily, more so they enjoy jobs, so give your old dog something to do.


How Can I Stop My Old Dog From Eating Dirt?

bored dog lying on the ground

We’ve seen the various reasons as to why old dogs eat dirt.

It’s wise to visit a veterinarian for a precise diagnosis to know the exact cause of the habit and get the necessary medication.

Once you’ve established the underlining issue, the next step is management.


Here are simple tips to stop your old dog from eating dirt:


1. Balanced diet

giving your old dog a balanced diet ensures that all the nutritional requirements in his body are met.


When he has all the nutrients he needs, he won’t go about digging into mud and garbage pile searching for nutrients.


2. Prevent access to dirt 

Prevent every access to the dirt piles your old dog would enjoy, and make sure your dog is always supervised in your garden.


3. Engage your dog with daily routines 

If boredom is the cause of eating dirt, keep your old dog working and playing.


Further, teaching your dog new games and tricks exposes them to more exciting things.


And that’s better than idling in your garden and feeding on dirt


4. Regular deworming 

Ensure your old dog is dewormed at the right time as per the schedule.

Failure to do so brings about intestinal parasites, which we saw earlier as both a direct and indirect cause of this weird habit.



Is your old dog throwing up after eating dirt? Then he has ingested a toxin.

Thus it will be wise if you consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Final Thoughts

If your dog is eating dirt, it could be for any number of reasons.

It may be a sign that they lack essential nutrients or that they have an upset stomach.


The key to fixing this problem is making sure your pet has plenty of protein and fat in their diet, so their coat stays healthy.


You can also consult with a veterinarian about possible health issues such as anemia, leading them to eat the dirt if there’s blood present in feces.


Whatever you do, just don’t punish them for what’s likely not intentional behavior.


See Also


A pet owner who loves to share useful facts and information about a variety of animals.