If your dog is making a meal out of the lawn, you probably have some concerns. This behavior can seem pretty strange. It’s something you’d expect from a cow or a goat, but certainly not a dog. Some pet owners are alarmed by this behavior because they notice that their dogs vomit or seem to have tummy trouble around the time they eat grass. Other dogs are perfectly fine. For humans, grass is just a highly unusual snack.
There are several reasons why your dog may eat grass, but many of them aren’t a cause for concern. Your dog may need something that they aren’t getting from you, like a diet change or more stimulation. They might be trying to communicate that they're having trouble with their tummy or digestive system. It all depends on the circumstances. If you don’t know, your veterinarian will be able to help you get to the bottom of it.
All Dogs Eat Grass
Chihuahuas, labradors, beagles, bull mastiffs, wolves, coyotes, dingoes, and foxes are all very different animals. At the end of the day, they’re still canines. All of them have been observed eating grass.
The fact that every kind of dog has been observed eating grass solidifies the fact that the behavior is normal. It comes from an instinctual place, just like barking at unfamiliar things or marking territory.
Not all individual dogs will eat grass. The behavior is simply common among all breeds and species. Your great pyrenees isn’t any more or less likely to eat grass than your German shepherd. It simply depends on the dog.
Dogs, Eating Grass, and Being Sick
There are a lot of theories surrounding dogs eating grass and being sick. Some people perceive the situation as grass making their dogs sick, while other dog owners perceive the situation as dogs eating grass because they’re sick.
About 25% of dogs will vomit almost every time they eat grass. Some dogs will only vomit occasionally, and other dogs may not vomit at all. It may be that dogs eat grass when they’re having tummy trouble because they want the grass to induce vomiting.
This poses a slight conflict with observations of dog behavior before they eat grass. Somewhere around 10% of dogs exhibit symptoms of illness prior to eating grass. It’s important to note that animals are very good at disguising symptoms of illness.
Even though your dog isn’t a wild animal, they still have many of the same instincts. Wild animals tend to hide illness or weakness in order to avoid becoming an easy target for predators. Many people are surprised to find when their vet expresses concerns about the health of their dog because their dog hid the symptoms so well. This could mean that the 10% figure is misleading, since many dogs don’t exhibit symptoms when they’re ill.
Some experts claim that this grass and illness connection is beyond the reasoning and knowledge a dog would be capable of executing. Many pet owners with smart pooches would wholeheartedly disagree.
If the instinct to eat grass to induce vomiting were evolutionary, dogs wouldn’t need to process the reasoning behind the behavior. Since every kind of canine, wild or domestic, has been observed eating grass, it’s likely that the behavior may have an evolutionary component.
Other Reasons Your Dog May Eat Grass
Grass is high in fiber. If your dog is constipated or having trouble going potty, they might be eating grass as roughage. It could also indicate that they're experiencing discomfort from intestinal worms. If you haven’t had your dog checked for worms, it’s a good idea to do so.
Eating grass may also be a sign of pica. Pica is a condition that develops in people and animals who aren’t getting their nutritional needs met. Just like children have a tendency to eat things like sand, dogs have a tendency to eat grass. Take your dog to the vet, and if necessary, use supplements or switch your dog’s primary food to something more nutrient-rich.
Your dog might also be eating grass because they're bored and the texture is fun or pleasant. Try taking your dog for more walks or giving them new toys. If they have something else stimulating to do, eating grass will descend on the list of interesting ways to pass the time.It could also be that they like the way that grass tastes. If your dog eats the same food every day, they're likely to grow weary of its taste. Try introducing your dog to new flavors or varieties of the food they enjoy, or switching up treats. Dogs are omnivores, so they might be craving greens. Small amounts of organic green beans every now and then might satisfy their craving and help them curb the urge to eat your freshly planted lawn.
Is Eating Grass Bad for Dogs?
Occasionally eating a little bit of grass isn’t inherently harmful to your dog. If you aren’t noticing vomiting or changes in her potty habits, eating a little grass isn’t usually a problem. If it seems to be causing distress to your dog’s system, however, you need to find ways to prevent your dog from eating grass.
Pesticide treated lawns are an exception. If you treat your plants and grass with pesticides, your dog is ingesting the poison every time they eat the grass. It’s best not to use any pesticides in areas where your dog plays. Additionally, non-grass plants like tulips can potentially be toxic to dogs, so you’ll need to ensure that grass is the only greenery they're eating.
Keeping Your Dog Well
If your dog eats small amounts of grass infrequently and doesn’t seem to be experiencing any negative side effects as a direct result, it’s likely not a problematic behavior. It’s completely natural canine behavior and shouldn’t be cause for concern.
If your dog is eating a lot of grass or reacting negatively to grass, it’s time to talk with your veterinarian about what you can do to meet your dog’s nutritional needs and help to correct the behavior.
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