Potting soil contains items such as fertilizer, lime, and clay that can cause irritation in the digestive system or other organs if ingested in large doses. Although most dogs will not develop any problems from eating potting soil, some may have an allergic reaction or become sick if they ingest too much of it at once.
Your dog may have swallowed potting soil as a substitute for its daily diet or to soothe an upset stomach. Because potting soil resembles dirt, it can be tempting for your dog to eat it. But, you should be aware that potting soil can make the symptoms of your dog’s stomach problem worse. So, it is vital to take proper action as soon as possible.
What is Potting Soil?
Potting soil is a plant growth medium that contains small amounts of fertilizer and nutrients for plants. It’s often used in gardens or landscaping to increase the amount of nutrients available to plants and improve soil quality. Potting soil contains some harmful materials or chemicals namely; fertilizer, pesticides (insecticides and fungicides), worms, insects, and other biological agents.
Fertilizer is the main ingredient in some potting soils, and some can cause toxic effects on your dog. Some types of fertilizer contain a large amount of nitrogen, which is toxic to dogs. It can also cause constipation and bowel obstruction. While there is no specific scientific evidence on the effects of these compounds on dogs, it is safe to assume that organic fertilizers have a higher risk than synthetic fertilizers.
Why Do Dogs Eat Potting Soil?
There are a number of reasons why your dog ate soil. In some cases, it may also be a sign of an underlying health problem or nutrient deficiency. Any of the below reasons would make your dog eat potting soil.
Smell: Dogs are naturally curious and the great power of smell dogs have can lead to a deliberate exploration of potting soil. The pungent smell of potting soil will naturally attract the dog, if the dog has an underlying health problem or nutritional defect, it could eat the potting soil.
Boredom: In some cases, it may be an expression of boredom, which is an understandable response to a lack of entertainment. In other cases, your dog may be merely attempting to solve its boredom by eating potting soil, which has a pungent smell.
Dietary Problem: The dog needs proper nutrition to stay fit and healthy. When a dog is not deriving adequate nutrients from its food, it tends to outsource the nutrient from other sources. This can lead to a condition known as Pica disorder where dogs eat non-food items, such as rocks, dirt or fabric, and potting soil if available during the exhibition of this condition.
Signs Dogs Display After Eating a Potting Soil
Potting soil infestations can be dangerous to your dog’s health. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s best to take action immediately:
1. Stomach Upset: Your dog may vomit or have diarrhea due to potting soil ingestion. This is a sign of toxicity and should be treated with immediate veterinary care.
2. Abdominal Pain: Some potting soil products contain clay, which can cause abdominal pain in your dog if ingested in large quantities. Take action as soon as possible to prevent further damage by removing any clay from the dog’s mouth or stomach.
3. Respiratory Distress: In addition to breathing issues caused by potting soil ingestion, some dogs may develop respiratory distress due to the toxins present in these products. This can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, which could cause death if not treated properly.
4. Restlessness: If your dog becomes restless after eating potting soil, it could be because of an allergic reaction such as hives or itching skin caused by dust mites or mold spores found in these products.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats Potting Soil
Potting soil is not good for dogs to eat; It is not just soil, it contains other components like decayed organic manure, the presence of worms, and other biological agents aimed at improving the growth of the crop planted in it. When a dog eats potting soil, there are several steps to take that helps the dog survive the risk of eating potting soil.
#1. Take the Potting soil out of the Dog’s sight: Mere looking at the potting soil, the dog may be attracted to it by its smell, boredom, or even in search of a deficient nutrient. It is advisable to take the potting soil out of the reach of the dog after the first accidental consumption.
The dog is unaware of the risk of eating the potting soil, it is likely to continue eating it if the potting soil is not taken of out its sight as soon as possible. Though the dog may show some aggressiveness as a result of the pleasure it derives from eating the potting soil, gently take it potting soil completely out of its reach.
#2. Carefully observe the dog for a while: Careful observation of the dog after eating the potting soil will help determine the extent of the potting soil it ate as well as show the severity of the risk involved. The observation is best achieved when the dog is caged. Though, some pet keepers have postulated that if a dog eats a small amount of potting soil, it may not pose any risk or show any symptoms. In cases where the dog shows some distress like vomiting and diarrhea or labored breathing, then it is time to take the next step, CALL THE VET!
#3. Call the Vet: Your vet is in the best position to give the best medication to stabilize the dog. Do not hesitate to make the call. The first aid treatment for a dog that ate potting soil is to give it some home remedies like mineral oil, pumpkin, and probiotics. The vet may choose to use prescription laxatives for dogs such as Lactulose, DSS, Cisapride, and Bisacodyl. Do not use these drugs without the vet’s prescription.
How To Prevent Dog From Eating Potting Soil
It’s important to keep your dog from eating potting soil because it can cause stomach upset and lead to other health problems. Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent your dog from eating the soil.
1) Keep your dog indoors, especially during planting season. This will help prevent him from getting into the potting soil and eating it.
2) If you do let your dog out during planting season, be sure to put him in a crate or cage in case he gets overambitious and decides to dig up some soil.
3) Place wire mesh over the potting soil and place something heavy on top of it (like a brick or an old door). The weight will prevent your dog from digging through the mesh and getting into the soil itself.
4) Place a stone in the center of each mound with some dirt on top of it, this prevents digging by keeping all the dirt in place instead of being disturbed by digging paws.
5) Close off any areas where your dog might be able to access potting soil. You can accomplish this by using a gate or an electrical fence, depending on what type of material is being used as part of your boundary (for example, if you use metal instead of wood).
6) Monitor your dog’s diet and make sure that it contains the required nutrients for good growth. Also, ensure food is available in the required quantity.
Potting soil can be dangerous to dogs, as it is a choking hazard. It can also upset your dog’s stomach. Some dogs eat dirt to soothe their stomach, but potting soil may worsen the problem. Proper monitoring of the dog can help prevent accidental consumption of potting soil. Your vet should be called upon any time you suspect your dog ate potting soil.