As a dog owner, we are sure you are familiar with this kind of scenario-your pet begs for you to allow it to go out. However, you only see it rush and immediately feasts on the grass. You get upset because you have no idea as to why do dogs eat grass and if this dog eating grass behavior can make your dog sick or not.
In this article, we will find the reasons why your pet finds grass a ‘delectable dish’ to snack on and whether or not you should consult a vet each time you see your dog does this eating behavior.
So, Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
Based on the research, dog eating grass is not a weird doggie behavior. It is a natural canine behavior referred to as ‘pica’. By this, it means that anything that a dog eats which does not fall under the category of food (well, at least based on our standards) is called pica. Wild dogs were also known to have done this behavior.
Pica is associated with nutrition deficiency. Eating something strange like grass and feces are believed to provide the animals with the nutrients that its body lacks. But, the question is why do dogs eat grass even if they are on balanced-commercially prepared dog food?
No one knows for sure. Because up to this date, there’s limited research about this topic, hence, there is no scientific evidence that back-up claims as to why do dogs eat grass.
Though Vets say that grass-eating is normal, the other explanations as to why do dogs eat grass may be due to boredom, upset tummy, or dogs simply find the taste of grass refreshingly delicious.
Let us now dig deeper into this issue so that the next time you see your dog eats grass, you already know and understand the possible reasons behind this odd canine eating behavior.
1. Tummy Discomfort
Not to confuse you, but this can be a case of chicken vs egg scenario. Dogs may be feasting on the grass to induce vomiting. On the other hand, it could also be that dogs developed tummy discomforts after eating grass, thus, they vomit.
Numbers indicate that only a fraction, about 25% of dogs vomit after they have eaten grass. Based on these findings, the assumption that dogs eat grass to find relief from tummy discomforts may not be true after all. Only 10% of them show signs of illness before eating grass.
Therefore, we cannot 100% say that the dog eating grass behavior is a form of self-medication. In the same manner that we are not discounting the possibility that dogs eat a mouthful of grass as a form of purging to feel better.
Though eating grass does not induce vomiting all the time but on some occasions, it does. It is then possible that the reason why do dogs eats grass is because they may be feeling gassy or could be suffering a case of mild diarrhea. Eating grass may help them find comfort from mild tummy aches.
What we recommend is to let a professional examine your dog if the frequency of vomiting increases. For all you know, your pet’s stomach distress along with vomiting could already be signs of serious illness like gastric reflux and irritable bowel movement.
2. To Beef-up on Fiber
Could it be that the reason why do dogs eat grass is because they are craving a roughage that could make bowel movement easier?
Although grass has no nutritional values, the fact that it is your dog’s fave snack may be telling you something about its dietary needs.
Like your favorite vegetables, the grass is a type of roughage that has high levels of fiber and potassium. Your dog requires the right amount of fiber to help it with food digestion and to pass stool. If you notice that your dog’s bowel movement is not regular, you may want to shift it to a high-fiber diet and hopefully, a change in diet will put a stop to its strange eating habit.
3. Sign of Attention-Seeking Behavior
Maybe your dog is just exerting too much effort to get your attention and this is why it is eating grass. This is especially true among puppies. Studies have shown that pups tend to eat grass more often than adults.
If you are not giving your dog the attention it seeks, then it could be that the reason why do dogs eat grass is because it lacks physical and mental stimulation from their fur parents.
Since dogs are intelligent creatures, they’ve figured that if they tear up the lawn upside down, their human families will notice them. In short, not only are they feeling left-out but they are a bunch of bored dogs who just want to have a good time, and eating grass is one of those.
Another possible reason why dogs eat grass is because of anxiety. An anxious dog’s coping mechanism could be is to eat grass. Sounds weird to you? Not really, look at it this way-some anxious individuals bite their fingernails or chew a piece gum each time they are in a stressful situation. Those acts decrease anxiety levels. The same could hold for dogs.
4. Sign of Worm Infestation
Your dog’s ancestors – the wolves are believed to have eaten grass to get rid of intestinal parasites. As mentioned, the grass is a roughage, thus, it helped increase the movements in the intestine and helped expel the worms from their system.
Domesticated dogs such as yours have inherited this from their ancestors in the wild. And, even if your dog is parasite-free, the dog eating grass behavior is innate.
Your dog’s ancestors did not have access to kibble or wet food in markets.
They had to hunt for food in the wild. Once they got hold of their prey, they devoured everything, from the meat to the innards down to the bones. This gave them their much-needed balanced diet especially if their prey’s stomach was filled with grass and plants. These plants provided them with essential fiber.
So, why does my dog eat grass? Though your dog does not need to hunt like its ancestors, the instinct to scavenge is in its system. Thus, even if your dog is fed with healthy kinds of stuff, the scavenger in him/her comes out as a reflection of its heritage. It so happens that some dogs prefer to scavenge for grass.
6. Your Dog May Find the Grass Palatable
Even if you are not a vegetarian, you know that fresh and raw salad greens are delicious. The same may be true for your dog, the grass in your lawn may be too yummy to pass. Perhaps your dog simply loves the texture, the scent, and the freshness of the grass.
Still Not Sure Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
Well, you really shouldn’t lose sleep over this canine behavior. The reasons behind dog eating grass are not clear. What matters is that there are no major risks involved UNLESS, the grass is treated with chemical fertilizers, fungicide, and insecticide.
If it is not bad, should I let my dog eat grass, then? Not in huge proportions. Yes, it is safe but the grass is not the perfect snack for your dog. Too much grass might lead to stomach blockage especially among puppies. Plus, if your dog plucks the grass from the soil, your dog may be ingesting roundworms and hookworms that are found on the ground.
Moreover, even if this canine behavior is normal and presents minimum risks, we still advice you to restrain your pet each time it eats grass. You may also do a short trip to the vet for a check-up to rule out any medical issues. The vet can determine if your dog is sick by extracting a blood sample, urine, and fecal testing. These tests are done to determine if there is a potential medical condition that may be causing your dog to eat grass.
We also want to emphasize the importance of observing your dog’s demeanor before and after eating grass so you can inform the vet about it. An example is if your dog is exhibiting signs of physical weakness or nervousness before it eats grass. Here are the other things to watch out that should merit a visit to the vet:
- Grass eating behavior becomes excessive
- Your dog eats grass but does not touch its usual food
- Your dog eats grass several times a day and then vomits after a few hours
- You are not sure if the grass has been treated with hazardous chemicals
What Should You Do to Stop Your Dog From Eating Grass?
If nothing is medically wrong with your dog, do not angry if it eats grass. There are some things that you can do to stop this behavior such as the following:
Allow Your Dog to Be Your Exercise Buddy:
Both the physical and mental stimulations ward off your dog’s boredom. Spending quality play-time with your dog makes a huge difference in terms of suppressing its boredom-related grass-eating behavior. If you have very little time to exercise with your dog, the trick is to offer it with toys and chew sticks that would keep it busy and entertained.
Check the Label of Your Pet’s Food:
Maybe your dog’s current food does not provide it with all the nutrients it needs. For example, if its dog’s food contains a minimal amount of fiber, your dog looks for it in other sources such as the grass. Be sure that the dog’s food has the correct balance of protein, carbs, vitamins & minerals that will sustain its active lifestyle.
Give Your Dog Fresh Snacks:
A good way to increase the fiber intake of your dog is by treating it with steamed veggies like broccoli, spinach, celery, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.
Offer Your Dog Its ‘Own’ Garden:
If the reason why your dog is eating grass is not because of an ailment, then we suggest that you buy it a plant that it can freely feast on. This will help your dog satiates its scavenger instinct by eating those plants and to stay away from the grass. Good examples are peppermint, milk thistle, rosemary, and garlic grass.
Try Using a Home Scent:
There are some scents that dogs do not like. These are spices that you can find in your kitchen. To deter your dog from eating grass, sprinkle the lawn with chili or cayenne pepper. You may also use a mixture of lemon and vinegar and spray this mixture around the garden but not directly on the grass. The smell alone will stop your dog from going into the yard.
Train Your Dog:
This one may be challenging because of your dog’s natural tendency to scavenge. But, with persistence, you’d be able to teach it on how to stop eating the grass without using any treats. All you need is a spray bottle filled with clean water. Each time your dog eats the grass, say ‘no’ and then lightly spray its face with water.
One of the possible reasons as to why do dogs eat grass is due to parasites. Maybe the dog eating grass behavior is an indication that it is time for deworming. This should be done every three months.
Why do dogs eat grass? There are no exact reasons for this doggie behavior. It is normal but the reasons could be to alleviate stomach discomforts and to augment nutritional deficiencies. For all you know, it is also could be his/her way of asking help from you.