Puppies are funny creatures, sticking their noses into anything within reach. Finding your puppy munching on what they shouldn’t is something that I am sure you routinely observe. But what about mud specifically? Can it harm them? Is there a way to stop them? Well, here is all you are going to want to know.
So, why does your puppy eat mud? Puppies often eat mud due to being enticed by a curious smell. However, nutritional deficiencies, boredom, stress, and general anxiety are other potential reasons to consider and explore.
If your puppy has only eaten mud once or twice, you may not have to take any action.
It may just be something they stop, all on their own accord.
However, if they are making a habit of it, it’s important to figure out what the root cause is.
So, let us delve deeper into those reasons before turning to the appropriate responses!
Reasons Why Puppies May Eat Mud
The main two reasons puppies eat mud are due to behavioral or medical issues. Behavioral causes include stress, boredom, or just taste preference. Medical reasons may be from anemia, other nutritional deficiencies, and stomach upsets.
The reason why your puppy is eating mud be because of learned behavior or a medical issue. Or a combination of the two.
Discovering why your puppy is doing this may take some time. But it’s important to find out to prevent serious issues from happening.
Behavioral causes for puppies eating mud tend to be from stress boredom. But also, preference to the taste.
Like humans, dogs are prone to stress and anxiety (some breeds more than others).
Where humans might bounce their knees to get rid of nervous energy, your puppy chooses to eat mud.
If you believe your puppy is eating mud from stress or anxiety, address the cause as soon as possible.
This is particularly important if your puppy is susceptible to OCD.
Dogs, especially puppies, have a lot of energy that needs exhausting.
If you deny them the opportunity to do so, they’ll form odd habits to stimulate themselves. And this includes eating mud.
Be extremely mindful of this cause if your puppy is a working or very active breed.
Depending on where they’re eating mud, this can be an indicator that they’re doing it out of tasting something nice.
Dirt can hold food particles that puppies sniff out.
When you introduce water to that dirt, the smell of that food increases for your puppy’s nose.
If mud collects food from garbage cans, for example, you can assume therefore your puppy is eating mud.
The most common medical reason your puppy is eating mud is that they’re anemic. Anemia happens when there aren’t enough red blood cells in the body.
Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Some other symptoms of anemia include lethargy, pale gums, and black stools.
If your puppy is anemic and eating mud, they’re doing so to try and make up for the deficiencies they’re lacking.
Even if you’re feeding them properly, anemia can come from parasites such as hookworms and ticks.
Hookworms are very common in puppies as they contract them from their mother’s milk.
And ticks, which are blood-sucking parasites, cause severe anemia if left untreated.
Nutritionally Poor Diet
The desire to eat mud may be due to a nutritionally poor diet or undereating. Dogs, especially puppies, need a well-balanced diet to stay healthy.
If they don’t get it, they might resort to eating mud as it’s rich in sodium, calcium, and iron.
Or they’ll eat mud if they’re underfed and need to satisfy their hunger, even if it’s mud.
Make sure that your puppy has food designed for their size and breed.
And if you believe they’re lacking a nutrient, consider adding it as a supplement to their main diet.
Soothe An Upset Stomach
Although they more commonly eat grass, your puppy might eat mud to help soothe an upset stomach.
The mud will help them vomit or push the upset quickly through their digestive system.
Some experts believe that dogs ingest mud to clear parasites and harmful bacteria from their gut.
However, more research needs to be carried out to confirm this.
Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Mud?
It is possible that your dog can get sick from eating mud. Mud can cause blockages in the digestive system and dental damage. And introduce parasites, toxins, and pesticides into their systems.
Mud is usually thick, and even if it’s diluted in the stomach, it usually contains small rocks or sticks.
If your puppy eats a lot of mud, these solid particles can clog up and block your puppy’s bowels.
And if it’s left untreated, it could result in your dog needing surgery to resolve the impaction.
Watch your puppy if they’re eating mud to make sure they have regular bowel movements.
Along with the potential of compaction, the rocks and sticks can be harmful to your puppy’s dental health.
They can lodge in their teeth, damage teeth and gums, and even damage their throats.
Some parasites thrive in a muddy environment and are swallowed by your puppy when they eat mud.
These parasites may be harmless and pass through your puppy’s system easily.
However, there are plenty more harmful parasites than harmless ones. And these can have serious effects on your puppy’s health.
Worms such as whipworms, tapeworms), and roundworms are commonly found in mud.
These worms can wreak havoc on your puppy’s intestines. And if left untreated, can multiply and travel up to their lungs.
Aside from the risk of parasites, the presence of toxins and pesticides is very possible, especially if the mud is runoff from treated grasses and fields.
Many pesticides used to treat lawns are toxic to dogs and this will still be present in the mud they consume.
It’s important to restrict access to these sorts of areas for your puppy’s health.
If your puppy starts to show symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, or weakness, visit your vet to get your puppy checked out.
Do Puppies Grow Out Of Eating Mud?
As puppies grow, they begin to stop typical puppy habits. Their want to eat everything, including mud, is one such habit. However, some puppies develop a lasting habit and need training to stop this behavior.
Puppies are curious creatures and love to investigate the world around them.
Dogs learn about their surroundings primarily through their senses of taste and smell.
When a puppy discovers a new smell, they’ll want to test the taste of it too. Hence why you can find them chewing on unusual things.
As a puppy grows and learns about their environment, this behavior should stop altogether. However, some puppies develop a liking for habits like eating mud.
And this can evolve into obsessive behavior. Or even attention-seeking behavior if they get a reaction from their owners.
Most puppies will start to grow out of habits like eating mud from about six months onwards.
However, if your puppy doesn’t appear to be stopping, you’ll need to put a stop to it yourself.
How Can I Get My Puppy to Stop Eating Mud?
The best way to stop your puppy from eating mud is to distract them with something more interesting and fun to do. Other ways you can stop this habit are restricting access to muddy areas and a visit your vet for advice.
The simplest way to get your puppy to stop this behavior is to distract them when you notice them going near mud.
You can easily do this by offering them their favorite toy or playing a game with them, or even showering them with praise and affection when they respond to your call.
Lack of physical and mental stimulation is a common cause of mud eating. So, implementing these steps will easily fix their mud eating habit.
If this isn’t very effective, consider teaching your puppy to ‘Leave It.’ This command trains your dog to leave whatever they’re attracted to alone.
Begin by calling their name and saying leave it. If they ignore you, repeat yourself in a louder tone. Whenever they respond to your command, give them a reward.
This reward doesn’t need to be the more commonly known treat. Your puppy might prefer praise or affection over food.
A simple method to stop this behavior is to restrict your puppy’s access to the mud. You can do this by creating a mud-free playpen in your garden and keeping them on a short leash while out on walks.
If you believe your puppy is eating mud because of a medical cause, the first port of call is to consult your vet.
Make sure your puppy has a good bill of health before tackling training methods.
When you catch your puppy eating mud, it’s natural to be concerned.
Mud is full of bacteria, pesticides, and other harmful elements.
And it may not just stop at mud either.
They may attempt to eat the strangest of things, it seems like anything that they can fit in their mouth they’ll try to eat!
Luckily, most puppies grow out of this kind of behavior.
And if not, simple training and management will curb these habits for good.
Have other questions about your puppy’s eating? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Sticks?
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Cat Poop?
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Stones?
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Leaves?
- Why Does My Puppy Not Eat In The Morning?
- Why Does My Puppy Always Seem Hungry?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.