Dogs display a lot of baffling behavior, and eating grass is one of them. Continue reading to find out the real answer to the question, “why do dogs eat grass?” and understand why this behavior should be stopped.
4 Plausible Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
All veterinarians would agree that the case of a dog eating grass is one of the most common pet mysteries. What makes this incident even more baffling is that it has no cut-and-dried scientific explanation.
That is until a 2008 study gave a clearer picture of the mysterious canine habit.
Before we get into the heart of the matter, let us look at the usual explanations that vets give. Although these reasons do not have a scientific basis, they can help you understand this perplexing dog behavior better.
1. Dogs like the taste of grass.
Canine animals are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. As such, if your dog chews on a blade of grass, he may be merely adding greens to his diet. Not only that, but he may also find the taste and texture of grass delicious.
Further, being a natural at scavenging, dogs will look for food wherever it can be found. Since grass is found abundantly everywhere, your dog will likely take advantage of the availability of grass.
2. Eating grass is a form of canine medication.
Do dogs eat grass to settle their stomach? Yes, it is believed that dogs may graze on the grass to relieve their upset stomach.
Grass eating could be their way of minimising the effect of nausea or bloating. This is one of the most often offered explanations for the dog-eating-grass phenomenon.
Why do dogs eat grass then throw up? Eating grass and vomiting are observed in many canines. Some speculate that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting to expel what caused their digestive upset.
However, studies show that less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass. And only 10% of dogs show signs of illness prior to eating grass.
This means those grass-eating dogs who vomit were already sick when they ate the leaves. Some vets have reassured that occasional vomiting (around 1–2 times in a year) is normal amongst dogs.
3. Dogs eat grass to satisfy their nutritional needs.
Another possible reason for the question, “why do dogs eat grass?” is nutritional deficiency. They could be missing an important nutrient in their diet and try to supplement it by eating grass.
This grass-eating dog behavior can also be associated with fiber insufficiency in a dog’s diet. It can make passing stool difficult. Thus, dogs eat grass to increase fiber in their diets, which improves the function of their digestive system.
Some pet owners have observed that grass-eating behaviors in dogs cease after they are given a high-fiber diet. As such, if your pet takes to grass eating quite often, you may need to assess his current nutrition.
You can consult a veterinarian on whether your dog’s diet sufficiently fulfils his nutritional needs.
4. Your dog thinks grass eating is fun.
If your pooch eats grass to pass the time, he is probably not receiving enough mental and physical stimulation. Observe when he is usually munching on grass. Does he typically chew greens when you are not spending much time with him?
Try to walk him daily or set aside time for playtime. You can also provide him with chew toys to stimulate his interest. Is there any change to his grass-eating behavior after making these adjustments? Let the answer to this question be your guide.
The One Big Answer to the Dog-Eating-Grass Mystery
Now that the speculations to the question, “why do dogs eat grass?” have been discussed, it is time to reveal the real reason that causes this behavior. A series of surveys done by researchers from the University of California revealed compelling information to the question, “why do dogs eat grass?”
The majority of the results showed that grass eating is actually common amongst dogs. However, this behavior is not due to canine health issues or nutritional deficiencies.
Based on the results, researchers linked the habit to the “innate predisposition inherited from dogs’ wild ancestors.” This means that dogs have retained their ancestors’ (wolves) habit of eating grass to get rid of intestinal parasites.
There has been evidence that wild canines of old have been eating grass based on the samples of their droppings. The fibrous plant material boosts intestine contractions and envelops the parasites affecting the said animals.
The worms are then purged from the animal through defaecation. Whilst modern-day canine pets are usually not infected by such parasites, they still have that predisposition to chew on grass.
Is a dog eating grass bad?
No, grass-eating behaviors in dogs are not “bad,” nor is it abnormal. Although dogs don’t acquire real nutritional value from eating grass, it will not likely affect their dietary needs.
Should I stop my dog from eating grass?
Whilst eating grass is considered normal in canines, it would be best to curb this behavior. Most grass is treated with herbicides and pesticides, which are toxic chemicals to dogs.
Pooches may also ingest intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms if they eat grass. Several plants are also poisonous to dogs.
What should I do if my dog is eating grass?
Redirect your dog’s attention to something rewarding than chomping on grass. Distract him with a treat if he tries eating the grass.
Using a command that your pooch already knows to stop his behavior and rewarding him after he complies is also a good idea.
What are other ways to prevent my dog from eating grass?
We have finally uncovered the mystery behind the question, “why do dogs eat grass?” and why pet owners should not encourage this behavior. The next step to take is to learn more preventative measures so that you can properly inhibit your dog’s grass eating.
We have listed down some helpful tips to help you with this endeavour:
- If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise or attention, make sure to spend more quality time with him. Take him out for outdoor exercises and provide him with lots of toys. By keeping him physically and mentally busy, he will not have time to attempt eating grass.
- As mentioned before, if your dog feels that he isn’t getting enough nutrients or fiber in his diet, he will resort to ingesting grass. Check his dog food and make sure that it is nutritionally balanced and high in fiber. If it isn’t, consult the vet on whether you have to make changes in your dog’s diet.
- Indulge your dog’s urge to eat grass by placing dog-safe edible plants inside your home. You can find grass and herb growing kits in pet stores.
- If you own a back garden, you can also prevent problems by growing greens specifically for your dog’s gastronomic enjoyment.However, if there is an existing plant that is potentially poisonous for your dog, make sure that it is securely fenced to prevent your pooch from disturbing it.
- Your plants should not be treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Use safer product alternatives for your garden. In case chemicals have been used in your back garden, keep your dog away from the affected area.
Warning Signs Dog Owners Should Look Out For
If your dog ate grass 2 days in a row and vomits afterward every time, he may be sick. Pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastric reflux are some health issues that can cause this canine reaction.
It is critical to observe if dogs show signs of illness such as lethargy, diarrhoea, and weight loss. Bring your dog immediately to the vet to get his condition checked.