Are you a pet owner who worries that your dog thinks they are a cow when you see them eating grass? You may even panic, believing they are sick, hungry or just bored. So, why do dogs eat grass? Will this hurt your beloved canine companion? Don’t worry; we are here to help!
First, rest assured that you’re not alone in that concern. Many dog owners wonder about this strange dog behaviour. And while even cats eat greenery, many people worry when their dog keeps eating grass. Do you want to know why they do it and how you know when it is a problem? Read on to find out the reasons for grass munching in dogs and how to identify if you need to take any action.
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Reasons why dogs eat grass
There are many reasons why dogs eat grass. Keep on reading to find out why your four-legged friend likes to munch on your lawn!
It might fill a nutritional need
Veterinarians, DVMs and scientists will tell you the act of eating non-food items is technically known as pica—that may indicate nutritional deficiencies such as minerals, vitamins, and fibre or chlorophyll. Many experts support the theory that because grass is a good source of fibre, eating it helps a dog’s bodily functions run smoothly.
Canines eat grass to add fibre to their nutritional diet. If you’re not offering your dog premium food, they may be eating greeneryto source extra roughage. This fibrous material helps stimulate the intestinal tract and is a vital part of dogs’ diet.
It could help an upset stomach
Although not all dogs vomit after eating it, some eat it to relieve themselves of an upset stomach. Sometimes that’s what your pup wants to do. It feels a bit sick and knows that this could lead to vomiting and a better tummy.
Because your dog enjoys it
Your dog may be doing it simply because they enjoy the texture and taste of grass in their mouths. You’d be surprised to know that many dogs are grass connoisseurs and prefer to eat it in the spring when it is newly emerging.
They are bored
There’s also the possibility that your dog is simply bored and needs a distraction. If your pup is locked up in the backyard alone all day, they could be doing it to help pass the time. Your four-legged friends need something to keep them busy, and snacking does the trick!
It may be a psychological need
Dogs’ days focus on their owners’ activities, watching them leave and awaiting their return. They crave human interaction and may try to get their owners’ attention through strange actions like eating greenery when they feel neglected.
Anxious dogs also eat grass as a comfort mechanism, like nervous people chew their fingernails. Whether dogs are lonely, bored, or anxious, the grass-eating behaviour increases as the owner-contact time decreases.
It is an instinct
Your canine’s ancestors did not eat kibble packaged in bags. Being in the wild, they balanced their diets by eating what they hunted. Eating an entire animal offered wild dogs a balanced diet, mainly when their prey’s stomach contained grass and plants.
Dogs are not strictly carnivores, but they are also not exactly omnivores; dogs in the wild eat anything that helps fulfil their basic dietary requirements. Modern dogs don’t have to hunt for their food, but that does not mean they have lost their instincts. Even those who love their commercial dog food may eat grass to reflect their ancestry and their need to be scavengers.
Is eating grass bad for dogs?
Fewer than 25 per cent of dogs vomit from it, and just 10 per cent show signs of illness before that. That means that most are not likely to eat it because they’re sick.
While eating it is not typically harmful to dogs, it can cause intestinal parasites picked up from animal droppings and stool. Also, if you spray any herbicides and pesticides on your lawn, they can harm your pup.
When should you take action?
Although it is rare, you should be alert of potential underlying illnesses that your dog is attempting to self-treat if you notice them eating greenery more frequently or excessively. You should seek veterinary advice if:
- The dog is not their regular food.
- Your dog is eating grass and vomiting up over a few hours.
- Your dog appears unwell.
- There are symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, decrease in appetite, blood in stool, lethargy, or lip licking.
In some cases, stomach distress can be a sign of something more serious, like inflammatory bowel disease or gastric reflux, so it’s worth calling your vet for advice and the appropriate pet care.
How to keep your dog safe
To keep your dog safe, constantly monitor them when there are houseplants nearby the grass, as certain varieties are toxic. If you think your dog has chewed on a poisonous plant, always consult your veterinarian. Here is a list of the most common plants that pet owners should avoid to keep their dogs safe:
- Aloe Vera
- Golden pothos
Keep your grass dog-friendly
Here are some smart ideas to keep your pup safe while being indoors or outdoors.
- Make your space dog-safe. Don’t use pesticides with toxic chemicals or make a unique dog-safe space in your yard.
- Clean up their poop to reduce the risk of parasite transmission.
- Be careful of any mean seeds, like foxtails. These are prevalent in many lawns and pose a serious risk to dogs. Use weed killers or weed burners to get rid of all unwanted greenery near your yard.
- Long grasses with sharp edges may cause throat abrasions. Use your lawnmower regularly to be trouble-free.
Alternatives to grass
Some dogs enjoy eating other plants, like lettuce, celery, and baby carrots. Consider experimenting to see which ones your dog will like.
How do I stop my dog from eating grass?
If you want to stop your dog from a habit like this one, to be sure nothing will harm them, we have the way. Follow our instructions to take that kind of salad out of your dog’s menu.
- If your dog responds to food treats, you can train them to stop the grass eating in exchange for a better option. All you need to do is to bring treats along when you take your dog for a walk. When your pup leans down to nibble grass, distract them by walking in another direction or with a verbal correction.
- If your dog loves affection, you can train them using positive verbal reinforcement and petting as rewards.
- Try upgrading your dog’s diet. Get food with a high-fibre diet to get all the nutrients they need.
- If your dog seems to be doing it for its flavour, try planting a low, wide container of edible, organic grass seeds just for them.
- Keep your dog entertained for long periods, providing them with plenty of toys and playing together for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Provide comfort to your anxious dog, offering them a new toy or your old t-shirt. To provide mental stimulation and relieve boredom, you may give them a chew-toy or a food-containing puzzle toy. For the ones that crave socialisation with other canines, puppy daycare may be a good option.
Now you know that your dog eating grass is a normal dog activity. If you’re still worried about that behaviour, you may discuss some more options with your veterinarian. The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep your yard dog-friendly. Keep away any toxic plants and chemicals from the grass, and watch out for symptoms that may indicate a more severe problem. Because in general, this is just fine, and a piece of safe grass the day keeps the vet away!