All canines wild or domestic eat grass, this includes wolves, dingoes, coyotes and of course our pet dogs. Eating grass is perfectly normal behavior and dogs have been doing this for thousands of years. A nursing mother’s grass eating traits can even influence similar behavior in her puppies according to a March 2009 article from the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
So why do dogs eat grass?
There are two answers to this question that you need to understand; 1). Dogs eat grass so they can purge their system or vomit and 2). dogs like to eat grass.
Let’s look at the first answer, why do dogs want to make themselves vomit?
Sometimes dogs voluntarily consume large amounts of grass when they have a gastrointestinal problem. They seek a substance to mechanically irritate the lining of their stomach to induce vomiting. Dogs eat large amounts of grass when they feel nausea, gas, bloating, are dealing with virus or bacteria, or they may have just consumed something that they should not have. Upon eating these large amounts of grass they will soon vomit.
They will exhibit often frantic behavior to get outside to eat the grass and begin consuming non-selectively, large amounts of grass once they are outside. This is because your dog is trying to rid themselves of something that is toxic or at least making them not feel well.
This infrequent behavior is not usually anything to worry about, if your dog, however, is doing this on a consistent basis, then you need to take a look at the most likely solution, changing their diet. Your dog is most likely trying to compensate for a dietary deficiency. Consult your veterinarian and find a new diet that may be best for your pet. Some owners achieve success in deterring their dog’s grass grazing by adding fresh, green. and or fibrous vegetables or fruits to the diet. Even if your dog has been on the same food for years, they may need a change in diet as their bodies and nutritional needs change over time.
Why do dogs enjoy eating grass?
This behavior is quite different from the first behavior. Here your dog will often be quite selective, often picking the tallest grasses or certain grasses and enjoying much smaller quantities. Your dog is not frantic and will usually select a few grasses and go about his way. Dogs know what they need to eat and perhaps your dog is seeking nutrients or fiber that he might need.
It is perfectly fine to let your dog eat small quantities of this grass in this way, as long as the grass is not being treated with chemicals, toxins or insecticides.
Some dogs will also eat grass due to boredom and lack of stimulation. In these cases, usually the dog is confined to a backyard or a particular environment and seeks stimulation by eating different objects in the environment. This is known as pica, a medical disorder characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive. This behavior can usually be altered by providing your dog more companionship and having plenty of chew toys available.
Eating and chewing on grass is just something dogs do. As pet owners we need to monitor their behavior and make sure any grass being consumed is safe to eat.
Village Vet Animal Clinic
2026 West Houston St, Broken Arrow, OK 74012