Dogs no doubt are lovable pets always. The sight of your puppy gives you a sigh of relief. When you find your dog feeding on something unusual and out of its regular diet, you get concerned about the health of your pet. Dogs eating grass is not unusual, you have come across this situation many numbers of times and wondered why dogs eat grass. In medical language this is termed as pica, and this is a disorder characterized by eating some unusual things. Let us explain the reason behind this condition.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Pica can be the resulting condition of a nutritional deficiency. You may have wondered what does it mean when a dog eats grass. Eating grass is also one of the signs of boredom when practiced by younger dogs and puppies. Reasons behind dogs eating grass vary from physical concerns to psychological concerns or the result of natural instinct. As with humans, dogs have personal characteristics that attract them towards eating grass. The reason may differ for each dog to commit this act.
Boredom might be one of the reasons for dogs to eat grass. This could be just one of the ways to pass his or her time. Dogs get into the backyard to snack it up themselves and then vomit it out. Ensure you are providing regular exercises and mind games. You can provide chew toy as an alternative. Additionally, regular exercise helps the dog a lot.
Like humans, dogs also need stimulation and this can be provided by the means of physical and mental exercises. In some cases, dogs may become destructive by chewing through your sofa while some may get on to the unusual practice of eating grass.
2. To Gain Your Attention
Dogs get on to this eating of unusual stuff just to gain your attention. This happens with the owners who are less interactive and less interested in providing suitable exercise for their pets. Dogs try to interact with the owner by practicing such forbidden behaviors. It just behaves as your toddler who remains naughty all the time just to gain your attention.
3. Natural Scavengers
As natural scavengers, they tend to search for their nutritional needs outside the home. Their canines are designed to search for nutrition anywhere. It is a possibility that the texture or flavor of the grass attracts the dog. It could also be a nutritional filler, as the grass is rich in fiber. You can address this by including fiber-rich food in your dog’s regular diet. Few dogs stop this habit with increased fiber in their diet. However, some dogs face a different issue and do not give up this habit soon after the changes in the diet. In that case, consult your vet and help your dog to come out of this habit.
4. Tummy Relief
Some dogs turn to eating grass when they are facing stomach distress. To relieve and ease themselves they feed on grass as medication. This might be the probable reason if your dog starts having grass all of a sudden. Moreover, it is very anxious in this regard; often making swallowing motions and extending its neck. Not more than 25% of the dogs vomit soon after feeding. Only 10% of the dogs showed symptoms of illness beforehand.
Stomach upset is the most common reason stated for the unusual habit. Like humans, dogs also suffer from nausea, upset stomach, bloating, gastrointestinal problems, redness around the lower esophagus and illness due to pathogenic microbes. If your dog is going through this, it behaves wild. Once it is taken outside, it will be eager to chow down on the grass available. And if it takes large bites and swallows the whole plant, the reason behind this would simply be to vomit, as grass causes gastric irritation and leads to vomiting. Your dog feels relaxed once he has vomited. This might be one of the reasons for the act of your lovable pet.
Note: Stomach distress may be the result of inflammatory bowel disease or gastric reflux. Take your pet to the veterinarian for appropriate treatment.
5. Nutritional Needs
Acase study conducted by the Journal of Veterinary Medical Science in the year 2007 stated that feeding the dog with higher nutritional supplements stops the dog from eating grass regularly. While the 2009 study of the Journal of Veterinary Behavior stated that puppies more likely ate grass if their mother did while nursing. Dogs eat indigestible food if they are excessively hungry. An additional requirement of minerals, fibers or digestive enzymes apart from the normal diet may be one of the reasons. But, remember dogs do not have an enzyme to break down the grass, thus it is of less nutritional value to the dog.
If you are feeding your dog with homemade food, then make sure you consult a vet regarding the nutritional requirements of your pet. Dogs usually eat a lot more than they are fed and they are more omnivorous than cats. You can never rule out that clean tasty grass can form an afternoon snack for your pet, in the absence of mid-day meal.
6. Specific Grass
Another theory states that dogs eat grass because they are fond of having it. In that case, a dog may appear to search for a particular type of herb or grass, rather than swallowing any grass it finds. After detecting the exact grass, it will peacefully morsel on the herb.
7. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Some dogs develop obsessive-compulsive disorder form of stereotype behavior and fix to this habit. This case is comparatively rare.
8. Evolutionary Past
History of the dogs is one of the reasons for the uncommon habit. In the past, dogs were successful hunters. Dogs were accomplished by good hunting abilities in order to survive and feed their young ones. Feeding on grass helped dogs to hide their scent from their victim. Sometimes rolling in foul offal also took place.
Dogs, unlike their counterpart cats, are not carnivores. Also, they are not like our garden-variety omnivores. For a long period (about tens of thousands of years) they guttled on anything or everything they found. Dogs in the past times concentrated only on basic dietary requirements and not on the type of food found. The modern dog is no longer like its ancestors. Due to domestication and evolution, its food habits and style of living, everything has changed. Dogs of today chose plants as an alternative food. Plants grown in the backyard are always closer and reachable to them. Dogs are known to eat vegetable matter, fruits and berries. Dogs find more nutrients in the plant food. However, few dogs vomit soon after consuming grass.
Not Sure of Cause
To dat,e many vets consider grass eating as normal behavior. Dogs definitely do not gain any nutritional value from consuming grass. On the other hand, this habit is not fatal. It is important to be cautious that no pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides are used. Keep your lawn safe from the usage of chemicals. When you are out taking your pet on a walk, watch out and prevent him or her from consuming toxic substances. You can also move a step ahead and plant an herb or grass especially for him to snack on.
If you are frightened that your dog is poisoned due to lawn treatments, you can contact the Animal Poison Control immediately.
Is Grass Eating Dangerous?
Dogs are well equipped to select the type of grass they have, and this cannot be dangerous. As dogs know what to have and it will discard others. As mentioned above, be a little cautious and keep your pet away from areas treated with chemicals and pesticides. If snails or slugs are present in the grass, an accidental consumption of this may lead to lungworm in dogs, and this is a serious potential disorder.
Be Cautious About Asymptomatic Grass Eating
Dogs that are not showing any symptoms of illness after having grass can be allowed to go on with the act. Grass can contain a number of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or even residue of feces. Many times, this fecal residue may be from dogs containing hookworms and other parasites. On consuming this grass, the parasite enters the intestinal tract of the dog causing a dangerous infection. Further, you have to consult your vet for suitable treatment.
Preventing Grass Eating
Many of the dog owners or guardians have a thought about preventing your pet from eating grass. But you should not prevent your pet as this is a normal behavior. Allow your pet to do this even if your pet ends up vomiting. Remember that eating grass is one of the medications for your cutie and it gives relief from digestive discomfort. It is a natural way to purge the body when ill. Watch out for the type of grass it is eating, and be careful and ensure it is safe. You can also talk to your vet regarding the habit and take the necessary advice. However, this habit is completely normal and there is no need to worry.
Training Your Dog
You can train your dog to prevent this habit. One of the best ways is to analyze the reason behind the habit and address the problem. In some cases, dogs eat grass as natural instinct or simply because dogs like the taste of the grass, and these problems can be addressed only through training your pet. If eating grass is a result of natural instinct, then there will be no negative effects on the dog. While this can prove helpful to your pet if you are living in a region regularly treated with herbicides, chemicals, and pesticides. If your dog is food oriented, you can offer him or her treats for the desired behavior. While you take your pet outside for walk or bathroom, carry treats in your hand. Distract your pet the moment it is tempted to eat grass by offering a treat. In case your dog is more tending towards affection, you can use the same method instead of using treats use positive gestures and petting as the reward. The most commonly used method is teaching the “heel” command to your pet. Once your pet masters the heel command, he follows you regardless of distractions when walking.
How to Analyze the Reason Behind the Act?
This is one of the toughest things to determine the exact reason. The first step towards this will be the suggestion of your vet. Your vet may do multiple tests that include urine testing, blood draw, and fecal testing. As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to observe the behavior of the dog when it is performing this act and inform your veterinarian regarding the behavior. Say for instance, if your dog is ill before consuming grass and shows signs of nervousness, then the suggested treatments are dietary changes, exercise and training the dog. Simply ignore this behavior while having a watchful eye and ensure the grass being consumed is not spoiled.
I hope I have answered your question of why does a dog eat grass clearly. If you have found it useful and wish to express your response, please drop them in our comments section. Let the world know about the beautiful relationship you share with your pet.