Why Do Dogs Eat Dirt From Houseplants

It’s not always easy to own a dog. Dogs bring us so much joy, yet some of their habits and mannerisms may drive you insane. I would categorize a dog that digs up dirt in your yard or eats soil out of pots and plants in that category.

The tendency to eat dirt is more common in dogs who are food-obsessed than anywhere else. This characteristic is not only widespread, but it is almost always found in well-known dog breeds including Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

But why do dogs consume dirt while they are outside in yards and gardens or from plants? I’ve looked into the implications of eating dirt for you and will also explain what it means that your dog is deficient in.

Dogs eat dirt because why? Dogs will consume dirt from indoor plants, soil from pots, or dirt from the ground for a variety of reasons, including boredom, stress, smelling lovely things in the dirt, malnutrition, or medical conditions like pica.

The quick answer is yes, but there is much more to it, such as whether or not your dog may get sick from eating dirt and how you might figure out why someone would eat soil.

How can I stop my dog from consuming dirt from my indoor plants?

Puppies enjoy sticking their noses into everything, and your indoor plants are no exception. It is a messy and bothersome habit, regardless of whether your puppy is actually eating the dirt out of the planter or just sticking his nose in the dirt to smell the enticing scents. Rearranging your plants and changing your puppy’s behavior are the greatest ways to stop him from eating dirt out of your houseplants.

Can dogs eat potting soil without getting sick?

To encourage plant growth, potting soil can be made from a variety of organic and inorganic components. These mixtures are not suitable for dogs, and if the potting soil is consumed, their playful and curious nature may result in disaster.

Dogs should ideally not be allowed to eat potting soil. The components in potting soil are particularly prepared for the demands of plants growing in pots or other containers. When swallowed, the components of potting soil are harmful to dogs and can result in a number of illnesses.

If the decomposition process was not carried out properly, the soil and other organic materials used to manufacture potting soil may include viruses and a variety of bacteria that could infect dogs when swallowed.

Depending on the dog’s size and maturity, eating potted soil will have varied impacts on different dogs.

Some dogs may get gastrointestinal symptoms shortly after eating the potting soil, which may last for a few hours. Other dogs may experience symptoms many hours or even three days later.

Can dogs become ill after consuming dirt?

You usually shouldn’t be alarmed if your dog occasionally licks the ground with their mouth, but if it starts to become a habit, you should absolutely look into any potential medical or behavioral issues.

Being a dog means getting dirty, but if your dog eats dirt, they can be exposed to poisons, pathogens, or other substances that could make them sick.

When your dogs are outside, keep an eye on them and take precautions to prevent them from consuming the ground they are walking on.

Why is my dog stealing plants from my home?

Some dogs begin nibbling on indoor plants in an effort to get nourishment. Plants include vital vitamins and nutrients that your dog may be deficient in if he solely consumes kibble. Add some green vegetables to your dog’s diet if you find that he frequently consumes grass, houseplants, and other greenery.


Not all dog foods are made the same. Some diets don’t have all the nutrients a dog needs to maintain good health.

Dogs of any age may consume dirt to supplement nutritional shortages and absorb minerals like sodium, iron, and calcium from the soil. Due to hunger and nutritional inadequacies, underfed dogs may also eat dirt and other items.

When choosing a high-quality dog food, make sure it complies with the nutritional recommendations set forth by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and is produced by a sizable, seasoned, and recognized company. Brands like Purina, Hill’s Science Diet, and Royal Canin all adhere to WSAVA standards.


If they don’t get enough enrichment or exercise, dogs might become bored and some will eat dirt to pass the time.

Stress from being separated from their pet parents might cause dogs with separation anxiety to eat dirt. Any age might lead to anxiety in dogs.


Low red blood cell count is the term used to describe this illness. Numerous conditions, including hookworms, flea infestation, tick disease, cancer, immune-mediated diseases, and bleeding disorders, can result in anemia.

Puppies are more likely to have hookworms than adult dogs since they normally acquire these parasites through their mother’s milk when feeding. However, if they are not taking heartworm medication, dogs of any age can acquire hookworms from the environment.

All dogs are susceptible to fleas and ticks, which are parasites that feed on blood and can result in severe anemia. All year long, keep your dog on a reliable flea/tick preventative like Simparica, NexGard, or Bravecto.

Due to internal bleeding from specific kinds of malignant tumours, adult and elderly dogs are more likely to get severe anemia. Anemia in dogs of any age can also be brought on by extremely uncommon immune-mediated illnesses and bleeding disorders. Any anemia can make a dog eat dirt if it is severe enough.

Portosystemic (Liver) Shunt

An faulty blood artery called a shunt allows blood to flow around the liver of a dog. As a result, the liver does not operate correctly because it does not receive enough blood. Shunts are uncommon but can occur congenitally in puppies, adults, or geriatric dogs.

How do I handle my pets’ pica?

A pet who has pica will eat things that are not food, like toys, rocks, grass, and sticks. Kitty litter, twine, dental floss, and clothing are among the things cats are more prone to eat.

The issue with pica is that the foods consumed may seriously obstruct the digestive system. These objects may either become entangled in the delicate intestine or be unable to pass, leading to a serious sickness and subsequent endoscopy or emergency surgery.

The following symptoms could indicate a GI blockage in your pet:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • bending over to pass a stool
  • reduced appetite
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

What Causes Pica in Pets?

The majority of pet cases of pica are behavioral in nature. However, it’s crucial to rule out any illnesses like undernourishment, liver disease, anemia, and parasites. We can begin to consider causes and prevention if we are aware that your pet is consuming non-food objects for behavioral reasons.

The following behavioral causes of pica are typical:

  • Boredom
  • learned conduct
  • worry or tension
  • aversion to punishment (in the case of stool eating, eliminating the evidence of an accident in the house may help the dog avoid being punished)

In most cases, pica does not go away on it’s own. Regardless of how it began or the reasons for it, it is frequently a compulsive activity.

Treatment and Prevention of Pica

The following steps can be followed to assist avoid pica and manage the behavioral issue if there is no underlying medical illness.

  • Ensure that your pet receives adequate mental and physical stimulation. For advice, let us know your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle. Hunting and sporting breeds need far more exercise than the average dog, which needs at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.
  • If you spend a lot of time away from home, think about using environmental enrichment techniques like food puzzles, games, and a dog walker to prevent boredom.
  • Cut off access to anything that your dog might eat.
  • If your dog likes to eat things from the yard, think about training her to wear a basket muzzle. A muzzled dog should never be left unsupervised.
  • While on a leash walk, use food and praise to divert your dog from ingesting foreign things or poop. Teach him to say, “Leave it.”
  • Consider using cayenne pepper or a spray of bitter apples to cover the items.
  • Give your pet a lot of safe chew toys and other items to play with that they can’t swallow.
  • Consider getting your pet connected with a veterinarian behaviorist who can assist you in identifying the cause of their behavior if they continue to consume foreign objects.

The majority of the time, pica treatment and prevention will be ongoing initiatives. A follow-up appointment may be required. Preventative measures, however, are unquestionably superior to life-threatening conditions and urgent surgery (and rehabilitation) to remove foreign objects from your pet’s digestive system.

Why do dogs trample plants in pots?

You may have been frustrated after leaving your newly planted pot plant only to return to discover it lying on the floor next to a dog that was obviously feeling bad. Dogs are drawn to the aroma of new potting soil for some reason, and it only takes them a few seconds to damage a newly potted plant. Smaller plants that can be put out of your dog’s reach are acceptable, but the majority of us prefer huge plants to decorate our homes both inside and out and require a more long-term solution to keep dogs away.

The habit is rather simple to break with a little bit of patience. Continue reading for quick fixes and humane solutions if your dog keeps destroying your potted plants.


A well-behaved dog is the result of proper training, since they will stop undesirable behavior very quickly and frequently on demand. The finest training techniques are reward-based ones because they help children learn orders quickly and kind of. When instructed to stop digging in your potted plants, a well-trained dog will do so immediately, and after receiving a treat for doing so, they are less likely to repeat the habit.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and some dogs may find it difficult to break a habit once it has become ingrained in them.


Step two is keeping a tight check on your dog whenever they are near your plants. Even a well-trained dog will require monitoring in the early stages of breaking a behavior. As before, praise them or give them a treat for good conduct. Also, make sure you are close enough so that they can hear you and will comply with your directions. Then you can gradually start backing off a bit to watch if they continue acting in this way without you around. It can take some time, but with enough commands, ideally your dog will come to understand that the potted plant is off limits.


The next step is applying a deterrent if your dog continues to dig up potted plants while you aren’t around to watch them. There are other options to test, but pinecones work the best in our experience, especially for little dogs. Bury pinecones—the more, the better—just beneath the soil’s surface in your potted plant. The harsh pinecone edges on your dog’s paws should be enough to discourage them from digging when your dog decides to come and dig.

Smaller dogs should use this technique because some larger breeds actually like to munch on pinecones!

Clove oil

If pinecones are ineffective, clove oil-soaked cotton swabs might be the solution. Clove oil’s strong aroma is repulsive to dogs and can serve as a powerful deterrent. Several cotton balls should be covered in clove oil before being buried in the soil of your potted plant. Hopefully the fragrance will be enough to dissuade them, but most dogs won’t bother digging them up because of the taste!

Temporary fencing

The next step to stop your dogs from digging in your potted plants is to put a tiny fence around them. While this may seem severe and cost extra money, it should be sufficient to stop them. Additionally, you will only need to employ them as a temporary solution while you are teaching your dog or when you are absent from the situation to keep an eye on them. Depending on the situation, you may either construct a modest fence around the entire space where you keep your potted plants or you can put a fence within each pot.

Make a dig pit!

The fact that your dog enjoys digging is one of the main reasons they keep destroying your indoor plants. Your dog may keep away from your plants if you designate a specific area in your yard for them to dig without restriction. Give them praise for digging in the designated location and add toys and sticks to the dig pit to make it more entertaining than the potted plant. Having their very own digging area can make your dog very happy!

Other deterrents

If your dog is still occasionally digging up your plants, you should give some of the other tried-and-true deterrents a shot. Most dogs dislike the smell of vinegar in addition to clove oil, so you can try it as an alternative. Additionally, creating a moat with a rough surface may be sufficient to discourage most dogs. This may be a tiny circle made of jagged stone or pinecones—anything that will annoy your dog but not hurt him.


Last but not least, some dogs simply dig because they are uninterested or understimulated. Digging is one of many negative habits that can be prevented and treated by providing your dog with enough mental and physical stimulation throughout the day. Regular daily exercise should help relieve dogs’ boredom and prevent them from digging up your potted plants. Many dogs will dig to release pent-up energy.

Are dogs harmed by Miracle Grow Potting soil?

Dogs can return to places that have been treated with Miracle-Gro fertilizers right after after application. The components in these items are said to be safe by the Food and Drug Administration and are also found in other nontoxic products you use around the house. To stop the fertilizer from spreading to other locations, some Miracle-Gro product labels advise lightly wetting the area after application and keeping your dog away from it until it has dried. Before using, read the product label or get in touch with Scotts to get a Material Data Safety Sheet.

What causes my dog to eat leaves?

  • Historically, wild dogs supplemented their diet with plants and leaves.
  • The omnivorous progenitors of today’s domestic dogs may have passed on this behavior to them.
  • Leaf-eating can be reduced by proper training, close attention, and understanding when to divert.

The air is becoming chilly, the trees are covered in orange-hued leaves, and the temperature is decreasing.

Although you might appreciate the sound of leaves crunching beneath your feet, you might not find it as relaxing if your dog is chomping on a few errant leaves. In the end, since it’s a part of their natural curiosity, it’s not detrimental for your dog to eat a few leaves here and there. However, there are techniques to get them to reduce their appetite for greens if they are constantly eating leaves.

Why Do Dogs Even Eat Leaves?

So why do puppies initially like to eat leaves? According to research, eating leaves is a behavior that is not exclusive to domestic dogs. When they can’t obtain their usual sources of meat, wild dogs have been seen in the wild consuming grass and leaves. Despite not being as nutrient-dense as meat, wild dogs nevertheless consume plants to supplement their diet.

Dr. Andrea Rediger, DVM, a veterinarian, claims that there is a theory explaining how domesticated dogs acquired characteristics from their wild ancestors. According to Rediger, domesticated dogs instinctively include plant matter in their diet since “undomesticated dogs are inherently omnivores (meat and plant-eaters),” he writes in an article for the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Pica, a syndrome where dogs feel compelled to devour non-edible objects, may be a sign of more serious problems. Although your dog may have a natural urge to eat leaves, the practice could also indicate other health problems, dietary deficits, or even boredom.

Although leaves may be high in fiber, they are not nutrient-dense and won’t significantly improve your dog’s diet. Consider introducing vegetables and herbs that are suitable for dogs into your dog’s diet, such as carrots, peas, and celery, if your dog appears to enjoy the flavor or texture of leaves. You might even start a rosemary, basil, and thyme-filled herb garden for dogs.

If your dog is experiencing stomach discomfort, they may also use grass and leaves to induce vomiting and help them get rid of the discomfort. Although technically harmless, leaves and grass can obstruct the airway, especially in young animals like pups. Keep a watch on how frequently your dog throws up, especially in light of how much greenery they are consuming. It can be a symptom of a gastrointestinal problem that needs to be addressed by your veterinarian.

While out for a stroll, it’s dangerous to eat any leaves because they might be sprayed with pesticides or other dangerous chemicals. While the majority of leaves that fall from trees are safe, some hazardous trees and plants, like black walnut trees, Japanese yews, and tomato plants, can give your dog serious health problems. Before acquiring a new dog, take essential to become acquainted with the varieties of trees in your yard and surrounding area.

How Can You Curb Leaf-Eating Behavior?

Even though your dog may view leaves as a special variety of dog potato chip, cleaning up their puke after a feast is never enjoyable. There are a few simple ways to prevent your dog from eating too much fall foliage if you’re worried about the behavior.

When you first let your dog out, make sure to follow them and pay great attention to what they put in their mouths. Give them a harsh warning if they begin to devour a leaf “No, and take out the leaf delicately. Give the leash a light tug if they begin to consume leaves when out for a walk “no, and divert their focus.

If your dog is showing an interest in the leaves, they may be bored and in need of entertainment. Purchase chewing toys or other items to divert their attention from the need to devour the leaves. To challenge your dog’s brain and get them interested in anything other than leaves, you can also attempt food puzzles.

Finally, remember to schedule some time to play with your dog. Throw a ball or another toy to divert their attention if you let them outside and they begin to explore the backyard looking for a snack. The interaction with their owner and the exercise may serve as a diversion from the seasonal treat and help you and your dog form a closer bond.

Do you need assistance training your dog? In spite of the fact that you might not be able to attend live training sessions during COVID-19, we are still available to you electronically through the AKC GoodDog! Helpline. With the help of this live telephone service, you may speak with a qualified trainer who will provide you with unrestricted, personalized advise on anything from behavioral problems to CGC preparation to getting started in dog sports.