One common misconception about dogs eating grass is that they do it because they aren’t feeling well, and that leaves some dog owners to worry when their beloved pooch is eating grass on a regular basis. Let's talk about why are dogs eating grass, and whether the most known reason is actually a myth or a fact.
First of all, pet owners should rest assured that dogs eating grass does not mean that something is wrong with their canines. In fact, wild dogs have even been observed eating grass as well, and most veterinarians actually consider it normal for a dog to eat grass regularly. Your dog’s health is most likely fine, unless there are any additional signs advising otherwise.
Here's a study that has partially analyzed a phenomena of why are dogs eating grass:
“Dogs, like cats, regularly eat plants, especially grass. Contrary to common beliefs the behaviour is not typically preceded by signs of illness nor followed by vomiting; the dogs are usually normal in behaviour, as reported by the owners.”
So why do dogs eat grass?
There are many reasons why dogs do weird things. Eating grass is one of those odd things that most dogs simply love to do whenever you take them out for a walk.
Pica is the technical term for the disorder characterized by eating things that aren’t food. It is found in humans and dogs. Sometimes pica indicates that your canine companion has some type of nutritional deficiency, although it is usually just a sign of boredom, especially if your dog is young.
No matter what the reason is, you should remember that eating grass will not harm your dog in any way. Does eating grass mean that your dog doesn’t feel well? Not necessarily. Research has shown that most dogs are not feeling sick when they eat grass, or at least they don’t seem to be. Most dogs seem to enjoy eating it and don’t get sick afterward.
Your dog may just be eating grass because he likes the way it tastes, or it may replace the chew toy for him. Dogs are natural scavengers and yours may actually like the flavor and the texture of grass or other plants. It may also be that your dog has some unmet nutritional needs that are filled by eating grass; most likely its a need for fiber.
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Selecting a dog food that uses real fruits and vegetables in their ingredients is a great way to increase your pooch’s fiber intake. This could cause him to stop craving grass, or at least cut back on the amount he eats.
Your veterinarian will be able to tell you the amount of protein and fiber your dog should have in his diet, as well as recommend proper dog food. A quick phone call could get you the answers you need and some possible suggestions for dog food brands to try.
Still, some experts believe that grass is used by dogs to self-medicate or replace the nutrition that doesn't come with food. If he is suffering from an upset stomach, gas, bloating, or other stomach troubles, your dog may seek out grass as a natural remedy.
In some cases, eating grass may just be a cure for boredom. Especially for puppies and young dogs, entertaining themselves is very important. If they are just milling around the backyard by themselves and they see the wind blowing the grass around, they may begin to chew on it just to have something to do.
Be aware though: when your dog eats grass, the blades tickle the throat and the lining of the stomach. This could cause him to vomit, especially if the grass was swallowed whole rather than being chewed into smaller pieces. However, just because your dog eats grass, that doesn’t mean he will throw up. Studies have shown that less than ¼ of dogs that eat grass actually vomit after.
Here's a quick summary from Psychology Today:
“The researchers conclude that grass eating is a common behavior that usually occurs in normal dogs and is generally not associated with illness or dietary needs. They go on to suggest that grass eating may reflect an innate predisposition inherited from dogs' wild ancestors. This is supported by research on droppings left by wolves.”
If you notice your dog taking large mouthfuls of grass and trying to swallow it whole, it could be a sign that he is trying to induce vomiting. If you see him chewing on the grass for a while, he is most likely eating it out of boredom or nutritional need.
If your dog begins eating grass, or eats it on a regular basis, it’s nothing to get worked up about. While there actually isn’t much nutritional value in grass, it isn’t toxic earthier. Simply put, as long as there are no pesticides or fertilizers sprayed on the grass, eating it won’t do any harm to your dog. Some pet owners even choose to grow their own grass or herb garden specifically for their pup to chew on.
If it is upsetting to you that your dog eats grass or the grass that is available to him is sprayed with chemicals, there are other ways to give your dog the nutrition that he requires. You could try introducing herbs or cooked vegetables into his diet.
Likewise, if your dog isn’t typically a grass eater and you notice a large increase in the amount of grass he is consuming, it could be a sign of a more serious illness or deficiency in his diet. Much like any other new behavior that seems to show up overnight, you should make a call to your veterinarian if your dog seems to be eating a lot more grass than normal.
If your dog is vomiting every time he eats grass, you should prevent him from consuming it until you can seek the professional help of your vet. Much like with humans, frequent vomiting will damage the dog’s internal organs and his teeth.
Want to know more about why dogs do certain things besides eating grass? Here are a few fascinating articles for the curious pet parents: