When your German Shepherd sees dirt, they start drooling like a 5-year-old in front of a pastry shop window.
And once they get their tongue on it, they just can’t get enough.
What’s up with that?
In this article you’ll learn:
- 5 dangers of eating dirt.
- The only dirt dogs can eat.
- Whether the soil tastes good.
- 9 reasons why your German Shepherd eats dirt.
- 7 easy tips to stop your dog from repeating this behavior.
- And much more…
Table of contents
- Why does my German Shepherd eat dirt?
- Why does my German Shepherd puppy eat dirt?
- 9 reasons why your German Shepherd eats dirt
- 5 health risks of eating dirt
- How can you tell if your German Shepherd eats dirt?
- When did it start?
- 7 tips to stop your German Shepherd from eating dirt
Why does my German Shepherd eat dirt?
Your German Shepherd could be eating dirt for various reasons such as the soil being rich, having health benefits, they are experimenting, bored, lack exercise, have an upset stomach, parasites, suffer from nutritional deficiencies, are anemic, or have compulsive geophagia.
Why does my German Shepherd puppy eat dirt?
German Shepherd puppies eat dirt because they are in their experimental stage. Eating dirt or mud is a natural behavior for puppies and they usually outgrow this habit as they mature. The common reasons why puppies eat dirt are because they are bored and they like the taste of the dirt.
9 reasons why your German Shepherd eats dirt
#1: Dirt (surprisingly) has health benefits
Not all dirt is dangerous. In fact, some even has healing benefits.
So don’t stop your German Shepherd from eating it just yet.
Let’s talk about dirt first. Dirt comes in various types such as mud, soil, sand, clay, etc.
Eating soil and sand could lead to health problems.
But that’s not the case for the Bentonite clay. This specific clay has lots of benefits!
Not just for your dog, but for yours too.
Clay-eating is frowned upon by many. But that’s only because they do not know its many uses.
Here are some of them:
- Relieves skin irritations.
- Substitute for your dog’s toothpaste.
- It provides relief for nausea and vomiting.
- Consuming bentonite clay relieves gastrointestinal problems.
- Prevents scabs and skin problems.
Read also: Why do German Shepherds eat bees?
#2: The soil smells good
Before you panic, you must first know that dogs eating dirt is normal. Every dog has had the dirt-eating phase at least one time in their lives.
But what is it about the dirt that makes your dog go loco?
Dirt is an organic matter. It has earthworms and different bugs in it. To complete the recipe, it also has buried food waste to enrich it.
Think about it. Rotten and smelly food, slimy earthworms, juicy bugs…
These are all the things all dogs love!
No wonder they stuff themselves with dirt like there’s no tomorrow.
Are they particularly eating in one spot or area? There could be something delicious buried in there somewhere.
#3: They’ve got nothing else to do
Boredom is often the reason why a German Shepherd does certain misbehaviors.
They are active dogs. And they need exercise every day.
Especially as puppies – those cute things are silly little creatures.
Whenever they get bored, they destroy or conquer. They will chew on your furniture and eat random stuff.
German Shepherd puppies love eating soil!
But when they eat it, they just tend to poop it out the next day. The problem is when they eat rocks.
Their little bodies may not handle the rocks that are inside their stomach.
That’s why you must stop the dirt-eating habit of your dog while they are still puppies. No- don’t let them get away with those puppy eyes.
If this mischief is left unattended, it could lead to more serious problems like eating poop. Also known as Coprophagia.
#4: They are still experimenting
Have you seen a photo of a German Shepherd puppy eating mud? It’s the most adorable thing in the world!
What’s not adorable are the dangers they could get from it.
Puppies like trying new things. But if they continue with this new behavior, it could become a habit.
They could also get sick. Because there could be parasites and toxins in the mud that can lead to poisoning.
#5: Nutritional deficiencies
Dogs eat dirt when they are lacking in some nutrients in their food. If you have several dogs in your household, observe them.
Are they all eating dirt?
If yes, then the reason why could be that what you’re feeding them is not nutritional enough.
This dirt-eating habit could lead to problems such as ‘Pica’. It’s a compulsive disorder where dogs eat non-edible items.
To stop this misbehavior, ask for a vet’s advice.
They can provide you with more information about the nutritional needs of your dogs.
#6: Upset stomach
Your German Shepherd is not a regular dirt-eater.
You have noticed that your dog only eats dirt every time they are feeling sluggish. Or whenever they have tummy issues.
Soils have minerals and good bacterias that relieve digestion issues. A study also shows that animals eat dirt to relieve intestinal problems such as diarrhea.
But sometimes, it’s not your dog’s intention to eat dirt.
They also want to eat grass.
Dogs eating grass is normal, it makes them vomit. They do this to relieve themselves of stomach problems.
#7: They are anemic
Home-cooked meals are the best. Maybe you prepare your German Shepherd’s food like you’re competing in the Masterchef show.
But sometimes, that isn’t enough.
Unlike humans, our dogs have different nutritional needs. And when these aren’t met, they try to get it from other sources. Like dirt.
This is the case if they have anemia.
Anemia is caused by the lack of Vitamin B and iron. Or it could also be there are parasites in your dog’s body.
Take a look at your dog’s gums.
A sign of your dog being anemic is their gums are pale or yellow. In this case, take them to the vet for a proper check-up.
#8: Parasites…not again
Not everyone wants to talk about this. It’s taboo and a little bit disgusting. But now’s the perfect time to discuss…
Your dog’s poop.
We often close our eyes every time we pick up our dog’s stool. It’s smelly and it’s yucky.
But for the sake of your furry friend, do this. Take a deep breath.
When your dog poops, take some time to look at it. Inspect it really well.
Are there worms in there, by any chance?
See, the reason why your German Shepherd is eating dirt could be because of those nasty little buggers.
Parasites like hookworms and whipworms in your dog’s body absorb all their nutrients.
So to replace those lost ones, your dog resorts to eating dirt instead.
Now you wonder,
“In which places could my dog have gotten those parasites? We only go to dog parks.”
You’d be surprised.
A study by AVMA shows that 79-90% of dog parks in the US are visited by dogs who have parasites in their feces. Looking at that percentage, you’d have to think twice if a dog park is safe for your beloved pooch.
If your dog loves to play with dirt and eat it, they could easily be infected.
#9: Compulsive disorder
You’ve heard before that puppies eating dirt are a common situation. And so you let that slip away.
But as your dog matured, eating dirt became their obsession. They would prefer eating dirt over their normal food.
This could be because of a disorder known as ‘Geophagia’. It is a compulsive behavior of eating dirt such as soil, clay, sand, and mud.
Bonus: Something bothers them
Is your German Shepherd eating dirt whenever they are with a new member of the family?
Or are they wary of their new home?
Oftentimes, there are reasons why our beloved dogs behave in a certain way. They could be feeling stress or anxiety because there is a change in their environment.
To comfort themselves, they resort to doing unusual things. Some destroy stuff, others attack, while a few others eat non-edible food.
When it comes to puppies, they usually need some time adjusting.
For bigger dogs, you have to take your time in training them. Correct their behavior through positive reinforcement.
Never, ever strike your dog.
5 health risks of eating dirt
Eating dirt can have some advantages. But it has been proven time and time again to be more harmful than beneficial to your German Shepherd’s health.
And more so if they are still puppies.
These are some of the dangers of eating dirt:
#1: Dirt contain toxins
The dirt your dog is eating could have pesticides and fertilizers. If those are eaten, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
#2: It comes with stones
When consumed in large amounts, these stones can block your dog or puppy’s stomach. They cannot be digested. So it can lead to damaged intestines.
#3: Parasite ingestion
Parasites such as tapeworms and hookworms can be found in soil. If this is ingested, it could lead to serious health problems.
#4: Mouth wounds
Little sticks in dirt can pierce the inside of a puppies’ mouth. Also, rocks could damage their growing teeth.
Cocoa mulch is often used for gardening. They are used to prevent weeds and enrich the soil.
Chocolates are bad for your dog. Chocolates are made from cocoa.
If your dog eats dirt that contains cocoa mulch, they could be poisoned. They may also experience vomiting, muscle tremors, and elevated heart rate.
How can you tell if your German Shepherd eats dirt?
One of the most obvious tell-tale signs that your dog is eating dirt is through the physical evidence.
Are there soil crumbs in your pet’s snout? Or are there chocolate-looking smudges on their face?
Does your pet look like it came from a digging spree?
If there is a big hole in your yard, chances are your dog is chomping on dirt.
Another way you can tell if they are eating dirt is by checking on their stool.
When dogs eat sand, they will poop sand. It will look like the wet sand from the beach, only in a different shape.
Also, if there are worms on their poop. The reason why they have those wiggly things could be because your dog eats dirt.
When did it start?
Try to remember the first time your German Shepherd ate dirt.
Or shall I say, the first time you caught them doing it. Is there any particular thing that happened that day?
To treat the dirt-eating habits of your pooch, you must know the reason why they do it in the first place.
When you know the cause, you will be able to give them proper treatment.
7 tips to stop your German Shepherd from eating dirt
You enjoy making the meals of your German Shepherd.
So knowing that you are not feeding them well must have broken your heart in two.
Don’t worry, you can still cook for your pooch!
You don’t have to change everything about what they eat. Just make sure to add in all the ingredients they need for a balanced diet.
If your dog often eats kibble, look at the label and ingredients. Do they have the same minerals as other brands?
You can ask for a vet’s advice as well. They can assess if your dog is lacking in anything.
Note: Based on research, vegan food has lower nutritional values than regular food. Thus they are not recommended for dogs.
#2: Drop a visit to the vet
Veterinarians will not only help you inspect your dog’s nutritional needs.
They can also give you proper recommendations on the amount of food your dog requires.
Sometimes, not feeding them enough can also be the cause why they eat dirt.
You can get rid of the parasites that cause your German Shepherd to eat dirt.
The easiest way you can check is to observe their poop. Are there worms in them? Also, look out for the common signs.
Dogs who have parasites lack energy and have a loss in their appetite.
In this case, you can look for deworming pills.
These pills will dissolve tapeworms and other parasites inside your dog’s intestines. Check your local pet store or vet for the proper dosage.
#4: Avoid dirt at all costs
What they don’t see won’t hurt them. Or at least that’s what it is in this case.
If you can’t stop your German Shepherd from eating dirt, you can try limiting their access to it.
Sounds easy? Not really!
You will have to create fences in your yard. Supervise them in a controlled environment.
Avoid their favorite buffet… Oops, I mean, dog parks.
And change your routinary path when walking them.
Controlling their environment will make them forget their dirt-eating habits after some time.
#5: Entertain your dog
There are many things that are more exciting than eating dirt. And you have to let your German Shepherd know that.
It’s not hard to make them happy and to keep their tails wagging.
There’s swimming in a lake, playing frisbee…
And road trips.
Make sure to keep the windows rolled down so your German Shepherd can enjoy the wind.
If they are busy, they will have no time to get bored.
Spending quality time is also a win-win situation for you and your dog.
They get to spend all their energy. You get your exercise. Your bond becomes stronger than ever!
#6: Trade command
What could be better than eating dirt? Let’s see…
A juicy steak. How about some fried chicken? Oh, and don’t forget the ice cream!
If you are going to make your dog choose between eating dirt and those delicious treats, which one would they pick?
Here’s another way you can stop your German Shepherd from eating dirt. Present them with something they can’t say ‘No’ to.
And then you will have to trade it in exchange for them giving up the unwanted behavior. This is called the ‘Trade’ command.
Of course, you don’t have to bring pieces of steak in your pocket all the time.
That would be too funny! Your dog will keep sniffing your pockets all the time. 🙂
Tasty biscuits and treats will also do. Like beef jerky and cookies.
But when it comes to puppies… beware.
For they are smart. And they can be quite sneaky.
Sometimes, they will just pretend to dig up dirt, so you will trade them with something delicious.
#7: All’s well that ends well
Since eating dirt is pretty common in dogs, this kind of behavior tends to go away after some time.
The key here is to not let your dog feel that this is bad behavior. It is bad, but don’t let them know that.
This especially goes for the naughty German shepherd puppy eating soil. Sometimes the more you stop them, the more they will pursue.
It’s like scratching an itch. They know it’s bad, but it feels oh, so good.
Don’t give them *too much* attention.
Check their activities, but not to the point that it’ll be the only thing you do all day.
If you see them starting to dig up dirt, gently redirect their attention elsewhere. Reinforce good behavior.
They will forget about this unhealthy habit as time goes by.