You've probably heard the myth that a dog eats grass when they want to make themselves throw up. If you have been thinking that your dog is ill every time he eats grass, relax. You probably don't have anything to worry about. I'll explain why do dogs eat grass and what you can do to help curb this habit.
There is no “scientifically proven” reason why dogs eat grass. Some dogs just like to eat grass, while others have a nutritional reason to crave greenery. Your dog may eat grass for one reason one day and eat for a completely different reason another day.
The bottom line, and most important thing to keep in mind, is that most dogs eat grass without suffering any ill effects. It doesn’t seem to harm them at all. Oftentimes dog owners believe that their pet is eating grass because he doesn't feel well, but that is just a common misconception.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
A lot of people think that dogs are meat eaters. While the largest part of their diet is meat, dogs still need to eat fruits and vegetables as well. This means that canines are actually “omnivores” or animals that eat both meat and vegetables.
You may be thinking that wild dogs, like wolves and coyotes, only eat meat. However, wild dogs get their vegetables by eating the stomach contents and muscles of herbivores. This means that domesticated dogs require fruits and vegetables in their diet too.
So, why do dogs eat grass? There are a number of reasons that I will discuss below.
1. Nutritional deficiency
Commercial dog foods are often made with vegetables and other ingredients that will fulfill the dietary needs of the “average” dog. But, different dogs have different needs. Your dog may need more vegetables and less meat or he may not be able to digest commercial dog food properly, resulting in a nutritional deficiency.
For this reason, your dog may eat grass because he needs more vegetation or fiber.
Dogs that are very thirsty can be quite resourceful. If there is no water available for him to quench his thirst, your dog may eat grass. Healthy grass that is watered regularly has some moisture content. There may even be dew or water droplets accumulated on the grass blades.
Cool blades of grass may also feel refreshing in your pet’s mouth and could help him cool down on a hot day.
Your dog might eat grass because he craves something different in his diet. Eating the same old kibble day in and day out gets boring. Your pup may enjoy the different taste and texture of grass.
Changing your dogs food often isn't recommended, because it could have a negative effect on his digestive system. The good news is that you can easily add roughage to your dog's diet without switching his food.
There are many fruits and vegetables that are healthy and safe for dogs. Leafy vegetables, parsley, broccoli and carrots can be given to dog. Dogs can also eat apples, blueberries and bananas. Try adding a few slices of fruits or veggies as a food topper to your dog's regular meals.
4. Upset stomach relief
The common assumption that dog's eat grass to make themselves sick is true…sometimes. The texture of the grass in your dog’s throat and stomach will help him vomit up any contents that are not digesting well.
Dogs do not eat grass for this reason very often, although most people jump to this conclusion every time their dog eats grass. Dogs vomit after eating grass only about a quarter of the time, according to a study done at the University of California in 2008. This is actually the least common reason for dogs to eat grass.
Even when your dog is eating grass because he needs to vomit, there is still no need for immediate concern, as long as it is only done on occasion. A dog that needs to eat grass to vomit too frequently, however, should see a veterinarian to determine if there is an underlying health problem.
When your dog needs to eat grass multiple times a day or even every day for several days, or if he brings up something that could have caused damage to his digestive tract or throat, call your veterinarian for advice. The problem could be anything from a slow adjustment to new food to internal parasites or even Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
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