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Why is My Golden Retriever Eating Dirt And How To Stop It?

Why is My Golden Retriever Eating Dirt And How To Stop It?
Golden Retriever eating dirt

It’s not uncommon to see your Golden Retriever eating dirt, as they love to do some weird things. Of course for every action there is always cause.

Eating dirt is no exception, and there is a reason why your Golden Retriever is doing this. Now, these reasons can be benign, like boredom or if something tasty is in that patch of dirt. But they can also be sign of underlying and serious health issues.

In this article we will identify and explain all of these issues, risks of dirt eating, and how to stop and prevent this behavior.

Why is My Golden Retriever Eating Dirt?

As we already said there are many reasons for this sort of behavior, some are less serious and some require immediate trip to the vet.

Let’s start with less serious reasons


Golden Retrievers are working field dog breed and they enjoy physical activity and work, that is in their nature. Unfortunately, due to modern lifestyle owners often don’t have enough time for their dog, this of course leads to inactivity and boredom.

When Goldens are bored they will find a way to entertain themselves, there is always something to chew or in some cases dirt to eat.

Golden Retriever Eating Dirt

It simply likes the taste

Yes, I know what you are thinking: How on earth can anyone like the taste of the dirt? Well, as we mentioned earlier Golden Retrievers love to do weird things, and eating dirt is one of them.
If your Golden eats dirt at random times, and doesn’t show any abnormal signs it might be that it just likes the taste.

There is some delicious food in here hooman

Another reason why your Golden Retriever is eating dirt might be the smell of food. This is more likely cause if they are eating dirt in the area where food has been previously.

Ok, now let’s move to some more serious reasons for this kind of behavior


One of the reasons your Golden Retriever is eating dirt can be malnutrition and unbalanced diet. It is quite simple, your dog is not getting all the nutrients it needs and as a consequence of this it will resort to eating dirt.

Owners that make home cooked food usually have problem with this behavior. When they are preparing food for their furry friends, they forget to add in bones that contain lots of minerals that their dog needs. As a result of this dog is suffering from mineral deficiency and will try to solve this problem by eating dirt.

Pica Disorder

Pica is an condition where the dog feels compelled to eat non food items. These can include plastic, garbage, metal, rocks, cloth, feces and of course dirt. Psychological or medical issues can cause this condition. So it is important that you consult your vet as soon as you notice this kind of behavior.

Underlying health problems

Your Golden Retriever eating dirt can be a sign of serious health issues. One of the reasons that can cause dirt eating in dogs is anemia.

Anemia is medical term referring to a reduced number of circulating red blood cells, hemoglobin, or both. Anemia is not a specific disease, but rather the result of some other disease process or condition.

Some of the conditions that can cause anemia and in dogs are:

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammation in the bowel can cause bleeding and in turn anemia. When suffering from this condition dogs will have decreased absorption of vitamin B and will resort to dirt eating as a mean to acquiring it.


Production of red blood cells in bone marrow is directly connected with levels of thyroid hormone. When there is decrease in production of this hormone due to Hypothyroidism, the bone marrow will produce less red blood cells which will in turn cause anemia.


Parasites like hookworms can cause anemia. They attach to the intestinal lining and suck blood. Also, external parasites that suck blood, like tick or flea can cause anemia in dogs.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Another hormone that is directly connected with production of red blood cells is erythropoietin. This hormone is produced in kidneys and his levels will be decreased if the dog is suffering from chronic kidney disease. This will in turn cause anemia.


Some tumors are known to bleed, which will lead to anemia.


Golden Retriever eating dirt could be it’s way of coping with recent loss of other dogs that lived in the same household. Loss of owner or change of ownership can also contribute to this kind of behavior.

Golden Retriever Eating Dirt

Risks Of Eating Dirt

Here are several risks associated with dirt eating in dogs, according to the AKC:

  • Ingestion of soil-dwelling parasites
  • Consumption of pesticides or other toxins
  • Damage to the teeth, throat, digestive tract or stomach from ingesting rocks or sticks

How To Stop This Kind Of Behavior?

Balanced and Quality Diet

Ensure that your Golden Retriever is getting quality and balanced diet with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs.

Exercise And Activity

As we mentioned before, Golden Retrievers are work dogs, they love physical activity. So, it is only natural that you ensure they have as much activity as they need. Yes, this is easier said than done, but try to find some time in your busy schedule for this very important aspect of their life.

Visit Vet

If your Golden Retriever started to eat dirt suddenly and it has been showing signs of being ill, best course of action is to take it to a vet immediately.

There you will be able to do all the necessary testing to determine exact cause of this problem, as well as get expert advice.