Is Potting Soil Dangerous To Dogs? (Answered)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Potting soil is a common soil mixture used for growing plants or herbs in a pot. It often contains compost to help plants grow in ideal situations.

Those who have pets like dogs have wondered if it is dangerous for them to ingest potting soil.

Potting soil is however dangerous to dogs as it contains various organic and inorganic materials which promote plant growth.

These constituents can cause a number of ailments to the dog if eaten. 

This article will discuss whether potting soil is dangerous to dogs, what chemicals potting soil contains, and what you should do if your dog eats potting soil amongst other questions. 

Is Potting Soil Dangerous To Dogs?

Is Potting Soil Dangerous To Dogs

It is advisable to keep dogs away from the potting soil.

Potting soil is a specifically designed soil with components tailored to the demands of plants grown in pots or containers.

When swallowed, the elements in potting soil are toxic to dogs and can cause a range of illnesses.

If the decomposition process for potting soil is not done properly, the soil and other organics utilized in the process may contain viruses and a variety of bacteria that can infect dogs if swallowed.

The consequences of eating potted soil vary depending on the dog’s age, size, and maturity.

Some might start showing signs of ingestion a few minutes after eating the potting soil and the effects may persist for a few hours, while others may show signs later and the effects may last for up to three days.

‘It is important to note that dogs are usually attracted to potting soil and this can be due to a number of reasons including:

  • They are searching for probiotic nutrients which are missing in their diet.
  • Weird as it may sound, they like the taste of the potting soil.
  • The scent of the potting soil.
  • The dog is hungry and simply looking for something to fill its stomach with.

The kind of effect potting soil has on your dog and the amount of time it takes to manifest is dependent on the ingredients in the potting soil.   

What Chemicals Does Potting Soil Contain?

Potting soil is made up of various components and chemicals which are necessary to help plants grow and survive.

Some of the chemicals found in potting soil include:

  • Perlite: Perlite is a type of amorphous volcanic glass that contains about 2 to 5% water. It’s similar to pumice, but denser. As molten lava cools, both types of glass are formed. Perlite’s composition varies slightly, but it is primarily composed of silicon dioxide (70-75 percent), aluminum oxide (10-15 percent), and trace amounts of sodium oxide, potassium oxide, and other minerals.
  • Insecticides: Insecticides are also present in some potting soils. If your dog eats one of them, he will be poisoned. If consumed in excessive quantities, they can induce significant symptoms such as seizures and respiratory arrest.

It’s crucial to read the label because not all potting soils contain pesticides. If you use insecticide to treat your potting soil after planting, your pet will be exposed to the poisons if they eat it.

  • Fertilizers: Some potting soils have fertilizer in them, and if your dog eats a potting soil with fertilizer in it, it can be poisonous and have negative effects on the dog. 

Common chemicals that can be found in fertilizers include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These can come from a variety of places, such as synthetic production or organic blood and bone meal.

It is best to keep these kinds of potting soil away from your dog. They can potentially induce organ failure if consumed in big quantities.

Even Organic fertilizers containing bone meal may pose a larger risk to your dog because dogs enjoy the smell and flavor of bone meal. 

Here is an article I wrote on can plants live in anoxic soil

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Potting Soil?

When you realize that your dog has had some potting soil, do not panic. There a number of steps you can take to help your dog in these kind of situations and they include:

  • Check The Soil Label: Once you notice that your dog has been messing around with the potting soil, check the soil labeling to see its ingredients include fertilizers, insecticides or pesticides. All these could be potentially harmful to your dog. Also you should take note of any other ingredients you might have added to the potting soil as they might also have poisonous substances.
  • Remove The Soil: Take the potting soil away from the environs of the dog so it doesn’t get back to eating the soil. Pack up the soil and take the pot away from the dog. 
  • Check Your Dogs Symptoms: Like I mentioned earlier, your dog’s symptoms might vary based on its size and the chemicals in the potting soil. Symptoms can start showing within a few hours or might take about a day. Whatever the case may be, monitor your dog’s progress closely to avoid it getting worse.
  • Call the Veterinary Doctor: once you notice your dog exhibiting behaviors like vomiting, call the vet immediately so they can administer medical treatment. When not properly treated, ingestion of these toxic substances can be fatal.

Why Does A Dog Eat Potting Soil?

Dogs eat potting soil for a variety of reasons, some of which I have mentioned earlier. Your dog could be eating potting soil due to:

  • Boredom & Curiosity: Dogs are naturally curious beings and when they are bored they go nosing around and investigating whatever they come across. They might try to sniff the soil and unintentionally inhale or ingest some which can be harmful for them. 
  • Pica: Pica is a condition that causes your dog to eat non-food items. It can have a behavioral cause. It can also be caused by an underlying medical issue. A dog with pica will frequently eat non-food items.
  • Nutrient Deficiency: When your dog has some nutrients deficiency such as vitamins or essential minerals, they might eat potting soil in order to get those needed nutrients. The absence often causes them to crave the nutrients and they can often be found in potting soil.
  • Attracted By the Smell: As we all know, doga have a strong sense of smell. They might be attracted by the smell of the ingredients in potting soil. They could even love the taste of the manure and bone meal in the potting soil. However, this could be potentially dangerous to them. 

Is Potting Soil Toxic?

Potting soil is great for growing plants and herbs.

It contains a number of substances which encourage the growth of these plants which might not be found in natural soil.

However, potting soil can be toxic to pets such as dogs and cats. This is due to the presence of several chemical substances such as fertilizers in the potting soil.

Potting soil is not meant for ingestion and when eaten by your dogs some of the effects include:

  • Fertilizer poisoning
  • Blockage in the intestine 
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory problems
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Stomach distress. 

Is Miracle-Gro Potting Soil Toxic To Dogs?

Dogs are safe with Miracle-Gro fertilizers, and they can go back into treated areas right away. 

The substances in these goods are considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration and. You would also see them in other harmless products you use around your house.  

It is however safer to keep your dog away from the potting soil to avoid serious side effects.

After application of Miracle-Gro, it is recommended that you  keep your dog off the area until it dries.

Here is an article I wrote on how to loosen a compacted soil 

Is Miracle-Gro Potting Soil Toxic?

Miracle-Gro, a potting soil brand from Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is a product familiar to avid gardeners all around the world.

When Miracle-Gro potting soil is added to the soil for plants, it helps them develop quicker by promoting the growth of new plant tissue and cells.

Although Miracle Gro is deemed to be generally safe by the manufacturer, it is not advisable ingestion either by humans or pets due to the concentration of ingredients in it.

Miracle-Gro contains urea, which is known to cause irritation in the mouth, esophagus, throat, and stomach. It can also induce nausea and vomiting if swallowed. 

It is recommended that if you ingest miracle-gro potting soil accidentally rinse your mouth out immediately and call a physician.


Potting soils are great for gardeners as they help to encourage plant and herb growth. The substances within them enhance the growth of plant cells and tissue.

However, these same substances make potting soil toxic to dogs. 

Ingesting potting soil is potentially harmful to your dog as it could cause a range of problems ranging from stomach pain to respiratory disorders.

Some of the substances within potting soil that could cause problems include fertilizer, pesticides and or insecticides. 

As such it is often advisable to keep your pets away from potting soil to avoid problems. 

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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