Why Does Your Dog Eat Grass?
“Logan! Logan! Quit eating that! Logan come on!” A few gentle tugs on the sweet pup’s leash, and I cannot get him away from a dirty patch of grass he’s chomping on. After a moment of grazing, I finally pick him up and place him away from the plant, directing his attention elsewhere. Recently he’s been eating any grass he can get his teeth on. What is the infatuation with grass? As a professional dog walker, animal lover, and potential pet owner I needed to find the answers.
I searched, “Why do dog eats grass?” and literally 6 million results popped up. After sorting through reputable sites, I found the top three reasons: boredom, nutritional deficiencies, or digestion issues, each with simple solutions were provided for each cause.
Puppies or younger dogs may gnaw on grass out of boredom. If grass eating is occurring when the dog is alone or not exercising, distract them with a chew toy or a more vigorous exercise routine. You alone know how much exercise your pup is truly getting!
2. Dietary Needs and Taste
Despite my assumption that dogs were carnivores, they are naturally omnivorous scavengers. One of nature’s many “garbage disposals,” they are known to eat any fruit or vegetable matter they find. If you offer a dog a carrot versus meat, they will most likely eat both. Dogs may eat grass as an actual food source or could be in need of essential nutrients, in most cases fiber, which grass is high in fiber content. If you notice your dog munching on grass frequently, consult with your veterinarian about switching to a high-fiber dog food. Keep in mind, your beloved pet may be eating grass because they like the taste. They do not face any danger from consumption of grass, but be aware outside grass can carry chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. To be 100% safe consider buying a grass tray or growing your own herbs. Dog-safe herbs include oregano and basil, but always ask your vet how much your dog can have.
3. Upset Tummy
The most common rumor is if a dog has an upset stomach they are seeking the natural remedy of grass. When “gulping” or ingesting grass quickly the blades can tickle the throat and stomach lining, which can cause the dog to vomit. Or can it? Some say our canine friends aren’t smart enough to self-medicate. Others ask, “Do dogs eat grass to make themselves vomit or do they vomit because they ate grass?” None of the above information has been scientifically proven. All have been concluded by veterinarian assumptions on behavior conditions. Still looking for answers I went on a deeper search for scientific proof.
Eating Grass Is No Cause for Concern
I could not find any information on the causes of vomit, but according to Psychologytoday.com, researchers have “concluded that grass eating is a common behavior that usually occurs in normal dogs and is generally not associated with dietary needs.” The article suggested this habit was inherited from wolves, dogs’ wild ancestors. Research found grass in wolf stool samples: “The plant material passes through the intestinal tract and the fibrous matter increases the intestinal contractions and wraps around the worms or nematodes which may be infecting the animal. In this way, grass helps to purge the system of these potentially harmful parasites.” This is not suggesting that your dog has a horrible case of worms if they are eating grass. It is simply suggesting it is in their genes to eat grass to clean out their systems. For the full article reference http://www.psychology.com/blog-canine-corner, “Why Dogs Eat Grass — a Myth Debunked.”
I now feel confident if a pup is eating grass, no immediate concern is necessary. If it’s an occasional habit, no harm done. If it becomes constant consult with your vet in the case of digestion issues or possible unwelcome parasites. Otherwise, I will let Logan chomp away on his backyard treat.
-Written by Meghan, one Equipaws Pet Services’ Brickell wonderful pet sitters.