Fall brings around with it lots of leaves everywhere, and dogs seem to love the leaves as much as we do, but for different reasons. While you might enjoy stepping on the dried leaves for their crunching sound, chances are your dog will be munching on them.
Why do they do this? Are leaves harmful to dogs? In truth, leaves will not harm your dog, as long as they don’t eat too many of them. If your dog has a habit of eating leaves, you might need to talk to your vet as it could be a sign of an underlying problem.
Why Do Dogs Eat Leaves?
Dogs eating leaves is not a new thing. Their ancestors and some wild dogs today still eat plants and leaves to supplement a gap in their diet. Your dog might not be getting some necessary nutrients in their regular food, so they find something else to meet that need.
Plants are a good source of protein, and dogs need a lot of protein in their diet. Although plants and leaves contain plant protein and dogs require meat protein, they can still use them to meet their protein requirement.
Some people opine that since wild dogs are omnivores, eating both plants and meat, domesticated dogs inherited that trait from them. Domestic dogs might include plant material in their diet as an instinct.
Dogs can also eat plants or leaves because of underlying issues. Some eat them when they need to induce vomiting after eating something that doesn’t agree with them. Their primal instinct can push them to grass or other plants to push the poison out of their system.
Other dogs, however, might eat plants out of sheer boredom. This happens mostly with under-stimulated dogs or those who spend their days locked in place. They can jump at the chance to munch on grass or plants out of curiosity.
Is it Dangerous?
Depending on how much they eat, there can be dangers to dogs eating plants. For instance, grass grown in people’s homes can contain pesticides and other chemicals that may harm your dog.
Some dogs might choose to eat leaves that fall from trees which might be harmless. However, there are some toxic plants and trees whose fruits or leaves can make your dog ill. For example, walnut trees are poisonous to dogs, and so are walnuts. Tomato plants and Japanese yews can also make your dog fall sick when ingested.
Try to know the types of trees you have at home and around your neighborhood to determine if any are poisonous. This can prevent cases where your dog eats a plant that can cause adverse effects.
You should also be careful when you think your dog is eating plants because of nutritional deficiencies. Although leaves are high in fiber, they don’t have any nutritional benefits, so they will not add anything to your pup’s diet.
Substitute the leaves your dog eats with similar textured vegetables and herbs. You can try planting or adding celery, peas, and carrots to their diet to supplement whatever they are missing. You can also plant a dog-friendly garden with herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, and basil.
If your pup is eating plants because of an upset stomach, they may be trying to alleviate gastrointestinal pain. While these might help, your dog can end up in more pain if they eat the leaves in large amounts.
Too many leaves or ingesting a lot of grass can cause gastrointestinal blockage. This is not only painful, but it can also cause further stomach upset and prevent them from throwing up what made them sick in the first place.
Observe how much and often they vomit, especially after eating plants. It could signify underlying gastrointestinal issues that might need your veterinarian’s intervention. If they only induce the vomiting once or twice, your dog will be fine; only take action when it becomes a regular thing.
How to Stop Dogs From Eating Plants
You might be concerned about your dog’s plant-eating behavior, especially when you constantly have to clean up their vomit. You might also want them to stop harming themselves, so controlling it early on is key.
Give them a firm ‘no’ whenever you see them put any plant or grass in their mouth. Follow that stern gesture by removing whatever they are eating gently. You can also use a leash to control them, gently tugging them away once you see them going towards some leaves. Try redirecting their attention to something else to prevent them from returning.
If your dog turns to eat grass because they are bored, find ways to engage them. You can buy them chewing toys or sticks that will take their mind off the leaves. Play with them until they get exhausted to prevent them from going back.
Playtime is important for dogs, so try throwing a ball in the backyard and have them retrieve it. Alleviate their boredom by interacting with them and taking them out for exercise. Playtime can benefit you and your dog and distract them from eating plants.
There is not much of a problem if your dog occasionally eats plants. However, if you see them doing it often, try to find the root cause. You might need to substitute or supplement their diet to compensate for their missing. Also, enable them to exercise more to distract them from the habit.