Your veterinarian may tell you that he answers this question all day, every day, because many dogs eat grass. Almost all canine owners come with this question once in a while. Your beloved canine is not a cow, so you being worried about his grass-eating habit is normal.
This strange eating habit is commonly known as pica and is generally associated with a diet deficient in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. But canines on a high-quality and well-balanced diet should not be nutritionally deficient. Then, why do they eat grass?
Learn about the physical and psychological reasons behind this strange grass-eating canine behavior. By reading this blog, you can better understand this dog’s behavior and determine whether or not there is any serious issue you need to pay attention to in your canine.
First, rest assured that you are not alone in this concern about your dog eating grass and vomiting.
Many dogs eat grass and some other strange non-food items. This behavior may seem strange to you, but it is very common in both cats and dogs. Veterinarians are trying to find out the underlying cause of why canines eat grass. But, they have not found a scientific reason yet, and this behavior is still a mystery.
However, some veterinarians believe that this habit is a form of pica. Pica is a technical term used for the eating disorder characterized by eating strange food items. It usually indicates that your beloved canine has some type of nutritional deficiency. Though, it might just be a sign of boredom or stress.
The nutritional deficiencies in diet are rooted in missing minerals, nutrients, and vitamins, which are absent from regular intake. For example, it may be your canine’s way of adding fiber in their diet, which helps them pass gas and stool.
But if you are feeding your canine a well-balanced diet, then eating grass may not be associated with nutrition deficiency. Canine cravings, dietary needs, and digestive systems have evolved to fit the lifestyle of domestic canines. But grass-eating behavior has been observed in wild dogs too, which is why it is considered normal behavior.
Why Does My Dog Keep Eating Grass?
There are various reasons your dog might be grazing on your lawn.
- Some dogs eat grass when they do not feel well.
- Some canines want to make themselves vomit, so they eat grass.
- They are omnivores and naturally crave eating grass.
- Some might enjoy the texture and taste of grass.
- This behavior might be just because of boredom, and they want to pass the time.
- Treating intestinal parasites or worms.
- Fulfilling some necessary nutritional needs.
- Improving digestion.
- Getting enough fiber.
One small study of 49 dogs has found that 79% of them have eaten plants at some time, and the grass is the most commonly eaten plant. Some canine owners propose that pups might want to treat their upset stomach by eating grass to induce vomiting. But, others have disputed the idea on the basis that dogs are not proven to be smart enough to decide how to treat their stomach.
However, some evidence suggested that most canines are not unwell before eating grass. In fact, less than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass, and fewer than 25% of vomit regularly after grazing.
Is Eating Grass Bad For Dogs?
No, generally, the grass is not harmful for dogs, but it can cause intestinal parasites that can easily be picked up from animal drooping and stool. The pesticides, herbicides, and toxic chemicals sprayed on the grass are harmful to your canine but not the grass. In fact, the grass is high in fiber, and dogs eat it to fill the void in the diet. If you are not feeding your pup a premium nutritious diet, then he might eat grass for extra roughage.
However, grass consumption can be a sign of an upset stomach which is why dogs vomit after eating it. A study report was published on a miniature poodle who ate grass and vomited regularly for seven years. The pet owner put his poodle on a high fiber diet, and just after three days, the pup stopped eating grass entirely.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass - Psychological Reasons
Though no one is sure about why dogs engage in this behavior, some psychological factors are listed by some vets. Below you can find the most common psychological reason behind why dogs feel a need to eat grass.
Stress or Boredom
Some veterinarians believe that dogs eat grass due to boredom, stress, or when they are upset or anxious about something. Some canines tend to eat grass when they have nothing to do, and they need some activity to pass the time. Others may eat grass out of loneliness or when they are not happy about something.
Some canines get into the habit of eating grass because it gives them their owner’s attention. People-oriented canines cannot live alone for a longer period, and it is observed that they get involved in destructive or abnormal behavior. Eating grass in the backyard is one of those behaviors.
Instinct can be one of the psychological reasons for this behavior, too. Most of the canines come from wild dog ancestors who used to eat hunted animals, including the stomach content. The grass is one of the content that wild animals like modern wolves purposely eat. So when dogs eat their stomach content, they unintentionally eat the grass.
Therefore, when dogs instinctively eat grass, they don’t vomit afterward. So, if you see your dogs chewing grass but not vomiting or throwing up from it, there is nothing to be worried about.
They Enjoy Eating Grass
According to a published theory, some dogs like the taste or texture of the grass in their mouth, and they enjoy eating it. Most of the dogs eat grass only in a certain period of a year or from a certain location. This contributes to the idea that dogs might like chewing the fresh grass growing during spring.
Moreover, most of the dogs love to go out and chow down on the grass in the backyard. They do not miss any chance to go out and play in the soft and fresh grass. This makes it clear that some dogs simply enjoy playing in the grass and consuming it regularly.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass - Physical Reasons
Just like psychological reasons, some vets believe that there are some physical reasons why dogs eat grass. Here are some common physical reasons that contribute to this behavior.
Some dog owners and vets believe that canine eat grass when their stomach is upset. This theory is based on the fact that most dogs vomit after eating grass. Your dog shows signs of stomach problems if he vomits a lot after eating the grass or has frequent diarrhea.
However, there is no scientific proof that whether or not the dog is throwing up from eating the grass. It is also unclear whether your canine’s stomach is upset, and he thought that grass might help.
Often, it is observed that when dogs do not get complete nutrition from their diet, they tend to eat non-food items. Gras contains a high amount of fiber which could be the possible reason behind grass-eating behavior. If your canine is eating grass right after a meal, it may be because he realized that he is not digesting the food as he should be.
Eating grass will provide your canines enough fiber, which helps them process food appropriately. When you often observe this behavior, immediately upgrade your dog’s diet to a high fiber diet. Provide your pup a well-balanced and healthy diet to keep them healthy and active. The dog food upgrade might stop the grass craving and eating behavior.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Grass
Although grass is not harmful for dogs, it is still not the best snack for them. The grass itself may not cause any problem in dogs, but toxic chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides sprayed on it can be toxic for your canine. Moreover, when they pluck grass from the ground, there are high chances of them ingesting intestinal parasites. The roundworms or hookworms contaminate the grass in fecal residue from other dogs.
Therefore, it becomes essential to stop and prevent your dog from eating grass. So, the question is, how do you stop your pup from eating grass?
Here are a few tricks that you can try to keep your canine away from grass.
Provide Him Treats
Canines respond well to the treats based on food. You can easily train your pup to stop eating grass in exchange for a better option. So, whenever you go out with your pup for a walk, make sure you keep treats along. Whenever your pup leans down to nibble grass, distract him by providing a treat.
Train Them with Affection
Pups that are driven by affection can be trained using positive reinforcement and petting as a reward. Many dogs respond to verbal commands, so you can train your dog by simply using a ‘heel’ command to redirect their attention. You can also use a dog whistle to train your dog.
Do Not Grow Poisonous Houseplants
Some pups indulge their urge to graze by nibbling houseplants. If you have a garden area in your house or grow plants anywhere in the house, make sure they are not poisonous. And if some of your plants are potentially poisonous, ensure that your beloved canine cannot reach them. Or train your dog to know which area or plant is off-limit in your apartment or garden.
Never Let Them Eat Grass from Any Public Area
Keep a strict eye on your dog when you go out and never allow to eat chemically treated grass. You never know which toxic chemical is sprayed on the grass, and it could be poisonous to your canine. Never let your puppy eat grass from your neighbor’s lawn, parks, or any other public area.
Give Them an Alternative
Provide your grass-loving canine an alternative to satisfy his cravings. For example, give him a container of healthy wheatgrass for munching.
Provide Enough Physical Activity
Keep your dog busy with playing or other activities so that he won’t get bored and indulge in a weird activity to pass the time. Make sure he gets enough exercise and mental stimulation each day to ward off boredom.
Spend Time With Your Pup
Spend enough time with your beloved canine so that he won’t feel lonely and get the affection he needs.
Upgrade the Diet
As discussed above, a sudden increase in grass-eating habits may indicate that your puppy is missing vital nutrients. Or there might be a chance that he is sick. Therefore, you need to upgrade his food intake and ensure that he gets sufficient nutrients. Changing to a high fiber food can improve your pup’s digestion and curbs his needs for its grassy supplements.
Dogs are amazing creatures who are not just loyal but loving and affectionate. They protect, love, and take care of their human family and provide companionship. So, it is human’s responsibility to protect their beloved puppies. Provide them a balanced diet with all nutrients necessary for your canine.
Keep a strict eye on your pup’s activities and make sure they do not indulge themselves in strange behavior. If you notice any sign of illness, provide your pet companion first aid at home. If your notice that your pup is still feeling unwell after 12 hours, rush to the vet immediately and provide your canine instant medical treatment.
Protect your dogs by getting an ESA letter from a certified medical professional. ESA animals are protected under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA). These laws allow your pet to live and travel with you.