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Is Potting Soil Harmful to Dogs? | Be Aware!

As a dog owner, it’s natural for you to ensure your buddy is always healthy and happy, but have you thought of something that seems harmless but can threaten your dog’s health?

Potting soil? Maybe!

If you are a vigilant caretaker, you would question, “Is potting soil harmful to dogs?”

Potting soil is a mixture used in gardening to grow plants and herbs in pots. It mostly contains compost that helps your plant grow in ideal situations, but it may also contain harmful chemicals that could be toxic to your dog if ingested.

From answering this question to explaining the important stuff around the topic, this article has got you all covered.

So, if you want to learn more about the dangers of potting soil to dogs, read on!

Is Potting Soil Harmful to Dogs
Is potting soil harmful to dogs? | Photo courtesy of Stuart. | Andrew Bone | Image via Flickr.

Is Potting Soil Harmful to Dogs?

Ingesting potting soil can cause various illnesses in dogs.

After a dog swallows the potting soil, symptoms can appear within just a few minutes. These signs mostly last for a couple of hours, while in some cases, the effect may endure for days.

Therefore, keeping your dogs away from potting soil is a sensible precaution to protect them from any harm.

Related article: How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Mulch In 5 Easy Ways!

Now, let’s see why dogs like to eat potting soil.

Why Would a Dog Eat Potting Soil?

The most frequently asked question regarding potting soil and dogs is why they eat it.

Well! There are numerous reasons why your dog eats potting soil.

Let’s discuss all the reasons one by one.

1. Curiosity

Dogs are naturally curious creatures.

Therefore, when they feel bored, they investigate every single thing they come across with.

So, there is a possibility that your dog, with the aim of sniffing, unintentionally inhales or ingests some soil.

2. Pica

Pica is a behavioral issue that can cause dogs to consume objects not meant for consumption.

Strange, isn’t it?

Medical problems can also contribute to developing pica in dogs, leading them to gobble things they are not supposed to eat.

3. Boredom

One reason your dog may occasionally nibble on your potting soil is boredom.

So, if you cannot entertain your dog in any way, he will find a way himself. It is quite like a child left alone for too long.

What will he do?

When a child feels bored, he tends to do things he shouldn’t.

s potting soil harmful to dogs? | If you let your dog feel bored, he will find ways to entertain himself
Is potting soil harmful to dogs? | If you let your dog feel bored, he will find ways to entertain himself | Image via Dina Nasyrova.

4. Poor Diet

A lack of proper nutrition in your dog’s diet may result in them developing an inclination towards consuming potting soil.

This behavior can be attributed to their body’s need for certain nutrients commonly found in soil.

As a result, dogs may be driven to eat potting soil to fulfill their nutritional requirements.

5. Taste or Smell

As we know, dogs have a keen sense of smell.

Therefore, potting soil’s flavor or aroma could attract your dog’s interest and encourage him to consume it.

However, this could be dangerous for the dogs.

Still, if the potting soil contains bone meal, there is no doubt that your dog will love it!

What Chemicals Does Potting Soil Contain?

Potting soil contains different chemicals crucial for a plant’s healthy growth.

Some of the essential elements of potting soil include the following:

1. Fertilizer

Sometimes potting soil would contain fertilizers.

If your dog devours such potting soil, it can be poisonous and can negatively affect the dog.

Usually, fertilizers contain ingredients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium derived from the synthetic production of organic blood and bone meal.

Although these components benefit plants, they can potentially induce organ failure in dogs if consumed in copious amounts.

2. Insecticides

Several types of potting soil also contain insecticides to protect the plant from various harmful insects.

But if your dog consumes these insecticides, he will be poisoned.

If consumed in significant amounts, they can induce seizures and respiratory dysfunction symptoms.

Not every potting mix contains insecticides, so it is better to check the label.

Your dog can also be exposed to poisonous substances if you use insecticide to treat your potting soil after planting.

3. Perlite

Perlite is a common component found in several types of potting soils.

It is a light porous material made from volcanic glass.

Perlite contains about 2 to 5% water, similar to pumice, but denser than that. It is especially useful in potting soil because it helps in drainage, prevents soil compaction, and improves the development of the roots.

It allows the plant to grow freely and absorb water and nutrients more efficiently.

Perlite is considered a low-toxicity material for dogs. Hence ingesting small amounts of perlite is unlikely to cause serious health problems.

But if it is ingested in large amounts, it can cause abdominal discomfort.

Symptoms You Should Look For!

Ingesting potting soil can cause a variety of symptoms in your dog.

Here are some common symptoms that might appear in your dog after ingesting potting soil.

1. Stomach Upset

The first symptom your dog may experience after ingesting potting soil is stomach upset.

It includes vomiting and diarrhea.

When the dog ingests contaminated potting soil, it’s a natural defense mechanism to expel the harmful substances from the stomach.

Potting soil can cause digestive upset in dogs, leading to loose stools or diarrhea.

The feces may be soft and watery or can also contain blood.

2. Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain can also occur from eating potting soil.

But it can be challenging to determine if your dog is experiencing abdominal pain since they cannot communicate their discomfort directly.


However, there are several signs that you can look out for to identify potential issues.

Watch for any signs of restlessness or reluctance to move, which could indicate that your dog is experiencing discomfort or pain in their abdominal area.

The dog may also whine, pant, or lick his belly to indicate discomfort.

Is potting soil harmful to dogs? | Close-up of a Dog Lying on a Wooden Bench
Is potting soil harmful to dogs? | Close-up of a Dog Lying on a Wooden Bench | Image via Pexels.

3. Respiratory Distress

Respiratory distress is rare in this regard; still, it is also a probable symptom.

It usually occurs when your dog ingests potting soil contaminated with mold or fungi.

The dog may wheeze, cough, or have difficulty breathing. You may also notice your dog’s gums are getting paler because the body isn’t receiving sufficient oxygen.

NOTE: If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Potting Soil?

Now that you know if potting soil is harmful to dogs, let’s see what steps you can take to address this situation.

Here is what to do:

1. Remove the Soil

The first step is to remove the potting soil from your dog’s access to prevent further consumption.

Keep any pots or bags of potting soil out of your dog’s reach to avoid future incidents.

2. Check the Soil Label

When you notice your dog is messing around with the potting soil, look at the soil label for the ingredients.

Look at whether it contains any type of fertilizer, insecticide, or pesticide.

Also, note the other soil ingredients, which might have poisonous effects.

3. Inspect the Symptoms

Whether your potting soil contains harmful ingredients, you must monitor your dog for symptoms.

The symptoms may be diverse, depending on the chemicals in the potting soil. They can appear within a few hours, or it might even take a full day for the symptoms to appear after ingestion.

Monitor your dog’s progress closely for the first 12–24 hours after ingestion.

4. Call the Vet

If you suspect that your dog has ingested something toxic, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian immediately for prompt medical treatment.

Failure to receive proper treatment after ingestion can lead to fatal consequences for your dog.

Is potting soil harmful to dogs? If you notice any disease symptoms, immediately call the vet
Is potting soil harmful to dogs? If you notice any disease symptoms, immediately call the vet—Image via Mikhail Nilov.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Potting Soil?

Now that you have understood how essential it is to prevent your dog from eating potting soil, here are some tips that help prevent your dog from ingesting it.

  • First, keep a close eye on your dog when he is hanging around the pots or in the garden. If you notice that he is interested in the potting soil, redirect his attention.
  • Before letting your dog out, ensure there is nothing edible in the garden.
  • Use fences to keep dogs away from the garden. A taller fence will discourage them from getting closer. You can also use a raised bed or containers outside your dog’s reach.
  • If these options are impractical, train your dog not to eat potting soil. Allow him to follow your commands. Rewarding your dog when he follows your commands is helpful in this regard.

That’s all for today!

Related article: 5 Dog-Friendly Backyard Ideas – Dogscaping the Backyard for Summer

Now it’s time to move toward the conclusion and summarize the talk.


Is potting soil harmful to dogs? I hope you understand now.

The components generally present in the potting soil, like perlite, usually do not harm the dog if ingested in tiny amounts, but if your potting soil contains any fertilizer, insecticide, or fungicide, it can harm your dog to a great extent.

Therefore, keeping your dog away from potting soil is better. Still, if your dog ingests some soil, calling the veteran as early as possible is better.

I hope this blog post will assist you in preventing your friend from falling ill.

If you find this post helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends.

Moiz Atiq.