It may take you by surprise when you see your dog chewing on grass or any plant within his reach. Eating grass and leaves are actually common dog behavior and happens for different reasons. Some dogs chew grass because they’re bored, or simply enjoy the texture. Psychological instincts or nutritional deficiencies are also possible reasons why dogs eat grass. Experts agree that eating grass isn’t necessarily harmful to dogs. But if unchecked, dogs can ingest potentially toxic substances like pesticides or pick up parasites from feeding on grass. It’s best to be aware of the reasons why dogs eat grass to prevent them from getting in the habit.
Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
It’s pretty normal when dogs eat grass. Why do they do it? Here are some of the reasons:
1. Your dog may be looking for an alternative food source.
While felines are strict carnivores, canines are not. Dogs’ ancestors were scavengers that would devour anything they could find, whether it’s meat or plant-based food, to meet their dietary needs. It’s quite common for the domesticated canines of today to consume fruits, vegetables, and berries as part of their diet. It’s not at all surprising that they may turn their attention to that lush, grassy spot on your yard for an alternative food source.
Some experts suggest nutritional deficiencies as a possible cause for grass eating among dogs, although some experts claim that there’s no relation between a deficient diet and eating grass.
2. Your dog may be anxious or bored.
Your dog may not be receiving enough attention or lack exercise, which is why he might be eating grass as a means to pass the time. There may also be an event at home that’s giving him anxiety, and eating grass could be seen as his way of trying to get your attention. It’s also possible that he’s bored with his food and simply found something new and appealing when he munches on grass.
3. Your dog may be trying to relieve an upset stomach.
Sometimes, dogs eat grass and throw up. Vancouver-based vet doctor Michael Goldberg shares that he often found signs of inflammatory bowel disease or gastric reflux in dogs that he was asked to check up for eating grass. Research, however, found that less than 10% of dogs showed signs of illness prior to eating grass or plant matter. This supports the suggestion that dogs that eat grass are not necessarily sick.
But can eating grass make dogs ill? Experts found that just a little over 20% of the dogs threw up or were sick after they consumed grass. There’s no evidence that eating grass can make your dog sick.
4. Your dog may be acting on instinct.
Specific dog breeds may have the instinct to hunt, to herd, or to stalk. Chewing grass may be part of a natural instinct to scavenge. It doesn’t mean that your dog isn’t getting the nourishment he needs or is feeling unwell.
5. Your dog simply enjoys eating grass.
Another reason why your dog is eating grass is maybe because he simply likes the taste or the texture or grass. Some dogs discover a fondness for those greens at the onset of spring. It’s possible that they’re simply enjoying how grass tastes and feels inside their mouths. In this case, there’s really no cause for alarm.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Grass?
Eating grass is pretty common in dogs and not always a sign that there’s something wrong with their health. But you’d want to be careful about the habit because you’d want to avoid exposing your dog to dangers that may be present when they eat grass in public places such as parks, where grass may have been treated with toxic chemicals. To stop your dog from eating grass, you may try the following suggestions:
veggies to his diet.
If your dog has been particularly fond of grass lately, try mixing some leafy greens to his meals. Cooked vegetables and natural herbs would make healthy additions to his diet. It would also give him something new and exciting from the meals he’s used to. The next time you take your dog for a walk, bring a ball or a Frisbee to distract him with when you notice him sniffing around the grass.
2. Give your dog plenty of exercise.
Some dogs eat grass because they need more of your attention. Play with him more, train with him, and perhaps try to take him for a longer walk when you go out. Dogs experience boredom too, and eating grass may be a sign that your dog needs more stimulating activities.
3. Offer treats as an alternative.
If you’re out in the park and your dog tries to stop by a patch of grass for a quick nibble, try offering him a treat and distract him from the urge. Apply the basic techniques of dog behavior training. Offer the treat as a reward when he diverts his attention away from the grass. You might have to use high-quality treats that would be more appealing to him than grass.
4. Provide him with grass that’s “safe” to eat.
We love our dogs like family. If you’re the owner who wouldn’t mind indulging your Fluffy, you can grow herbs or grass at home just for him! This way, he can have his grass anytime he feels like it without you having to worry about him getting poisoned by herbicides or pesticides.
5. Consult your vet.
Excessive grass eating can be a sign that something is wrong. There is a condition in dogs called “pica,” which involves eating unusual items and objects. If you notice this or any other abnormal dog behavior, a trip to the vet would be able to tell you if your pet has a more serious underlying condition.
Dogs eating grass is often nothing to worry about. If you see your dog sees happily munching away on your lawn, just let him. But if you’re worried about your dog eating grass when you’re not around, just try the suggestions above on how to prevent him from eating grass. If grass eating becomes a consistent habit for your pet, observe for any other signs that your dog might be ill and consult your vet immediately.