Does your dog love munching on the fresh green grass? You are not alone. The majority of the dogs eat grass regularly or occasionally.
The answer to the question of why do dogs eat grass, though, is not so simple.
Some claim that this behavior may be caused by a lack of certain minerals and vitamins in the dog’s diet. Others contradict this by stating that even pups that eat balanced, high-quality dog food eat grass as well.
So, why do dogs eat grass, and what are the pros and cons of eating grass, as well as ways to prevent your pup from doing that.
Read on for the answers and for more info.
Do dogs eat grass because of physical needs?
Many people believe that pups eat grass when they have a stomach upset. It is a fact that some dogs eat a lot of grass urgently and then vomit almost immediately. But the question is – does the pup consume the grass so that it causes vomiting and thus soothes an upset stomach, or does the stomach become upset because of all of the grass ingested?
Studies show that less than ¼ of all dogs vomit after grass-eating. This means that it is improbable that canines munch on the grass for medicinal purposes.
The same studies show that only 10% of the canines show any signs of stomach upsets and illnesses before starting to eat grass.
So, we may conclude from these results that most dogs eat grass without being sick and without vomiting after that.
But on the other hand, another physical need may cause grass grazing among canines. This is the fiber and roughage needed for pups to digest their food and to pass stool normally. Thus, grass may actually help dogs regulate their digestive system and bowel movements.
If you notice that your pup is eating grass and showing signs of stomach upset and discomfort, you should contact your vet. The reason may not be serious, but it also may be inflammatory bowel disease, gastric reflux, pancreatitis, or other serious medical conditions.
Do dogs eat grass due to psychological reasons?
The day of your dog is mostly focused on your activities. It waits for you to feed and walk it and play with it. Your pet also watches you leave home and awaits your return.
If your pup is left alone for hours, it will likely become boring. Grazing on grass when it is available can help it stay entertained.
Since canines crave your attention, they can start doing odd things, such as eating grass, just to get your attention.
Some nervous dogs may munch on grass as a comforting and coping mechanism against stress and anxiety too.
Overall, as the time you spend with your pup decreases, the likelihood of it eating grass increases. This can be due to anxiety, boredom, or attention-seeking too.
If you suspect that your pup suffers from separation anxiety or is otherwise stressed, you can help it cope better by leaving one of your old t-shirts with your smell on it or giving it different toys to keep it calm.
Bored dogs can do with some puzzle toys containing food, which will keep them entertained when you are out, or you don’t have the time to play with them.
Of course, the best way to keep your pup happy, especially if it is an active one, is to spend more time walking and playing with it.
Socializing with other canines and doggy daycare can be solutions for anxious, bored, or lonely dogs too.
Is it a natural instinct for dogs to eat grass?
The ancestors of today’s dogs did not live on a diet restricted to kibble and wet dog food. The dogs that lived in the wild relied on hunting and scavenging for their food. They would eat their prey’s meat, internal organs, and bones. Often, the stomachs of their prey contained grass and other plant food, which helped the dogs get the fiber they needed.
Today dogs, while not strictly carnivores, are not exactly omnivores either. Stool samples of wolves indicate that between 10% and 50% of them also eat grass, which provides the needed nutrients and fibers.
So, your dog eating grass may be a reflection of the old times when its ancestors used to scavenge and eat their prey, including their intestines containing plant-based food.
In other words, if you are worried that your dog has a behavioral problem because it eats grass – then don’t.
If the grass has not been treated with pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals, and if you regularly provide your pup with parasite prevention treatment, then you shouldn’t worry about grass grazing. So, unless it is absolutely necessary, it is better not to try to interfere with your pup’s natural instincts.
Related: My Dog Eats Earthworms. Gross!
Do dogs actually enjoy eating grass?
Apart from the possible physical, psychological and genetic explanations for why dogs eat grass, there may be one more straightforward reason for this behavior. This is that canines may actually like eating the grass and enjoy its taste and texture.
This is why you may have noticed how your pup is especially happy when grazing on the fresh new grass in the spring.
How can I stop my pup from grass-eating?
While eating grass is usually normal for canines, it is not the best thing to eat. This is especially true if the grass is treated with chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. Also, the dog can ingest spores from parasites like hookworms or roundworms from the grass, which have spread from the feces of other dogs.
If your dog responds to delicious treats, then you can try diverting its attention from the grass to one of its favorite treats.
You can also try using verbal correction or direct the dog away from the grass when it tries to eat it.
If your pup responds to positive attention and affection, you need to call it away from the grass and reward it with praising and petting.
If you have a good job of training your pup with verbal commands, then it should be easy to use a “heel” command to stop it from eating grass.