Many pet owners tend to get
confused when they see their beloved canine eating grass even though they feed
them with a nutritious food full of everything they need to grow and be
healthy. Could it be that they’re
hungry? Bored? Sick?
Grass-eating seems to be
common among dogs. As veterinarians will
tell you they discuss this issue all day with dog owners. This behaviour is known as “pica,” and it is
essentially a disorder characterized by eating things that aren’t food.
Sometimes, pica is caused by a diet deficient in nutrients, vitamins or
minerals, giving room for other possible reasons dogs on well-balanced diets
engage in the foraging behaviour.
Why is my dog eating grass?
While no one can be entirely
sure why dogs eat grass, here are the common reasons experts give to answer the
question, “why does my dog eat grass?”
Grass tastes good
The first possible reason why
your dog eats grass is that they enjoy the flavour and texture of the grass.
Some canines consider it a pleasurable behaviour and simply eat it for fun.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise since dogs enjoy all sorts of things that
disgust the human palate, including dirty socks, wood, and gristle from the bin.
Another perspective to
consider is that some dogs have the tendency to eat plants, and this is not
strange. Some theories opine that dogs have been natural omnivores for
thousands of decades (meat and plant-eaters) and as a result, domesticated dogs
today instinctively include plant material in their diet. So there’s a good
chance that in addition to grass, your puppy also enjoys raw-plant snacks such
as sliced bananas, green beans and even apple slices from time to time.
To induce vomiting
Sometimes, dogs eat grass to
induce vomiting. This reason raises another question: Does your dog eat grass
to vomit and soothe an ailing stomach, or does he develop a stomach upset and
vomit because he ate grass? In other words, does the grass make your dog feel
unwell, or is it helping him to throw up as a form of relief?
The answer to the question
may vary for many dog owners, but studies show that only 25% of dogs vomit
after eating grass, meaning the majority of grass-eating dogs aren’t sick
beforehand, so chances of this pica behaviour making your dog feel unwell are slim.
In fact, only 10% of dogs
show signs of illnesses caused by a range of factors such as intestinal worms
or gastrointestinal upsets. The grass helps induce vomiting to expel whatever
might be bothering them, and you can tell this is the case if your dog eats and
swallows grass quickly, barely chewing it. When your dog finally vomits, he may
stop eating grass and return to his normal diet.
To ease boredom
Some dogs get anxious when
their owners leave and use grass-eating to pass time until their return. Think
of grass-eating as your dog’s comfort mechanism, just like nervous people chew
their fingernails. The longer it takes for their owners to return, the more
anxious they become and the grass-eating increases. Other times, it could be
that your dog is trying to get your attention because he’s been alone for too
long and wants some time with his favourite human.
Is it safe for my dog to eat
Grass-eating is a common
occurrence in dogs, and it poses no real risk. But it’s critical to keep a
careful eye on the sort of grass your pet eats. You need to be mindful of the
chemicals used in the grass as they may irritate your dog’s stomach or cause
Additionally, if you notice
your dog is eating grass too often, it could be a sign of a health condition.
In such instances, don’t hesitate to visit the vet.
How do I stop my dog from
The first step towards
getting your dog to stop eating grass is to figure out why your pet eats grass.
If your pet is bored, engage him in some fun activities or get him to chew toys
to keep his mouth busy with other things other than grass. On the chance that
it is caused by a nutritional deficiency, feeding him with a well-balanced diet
could help alleviate the problem. If the pica behaviour persists, a visit to
the vet for a full examination can help rule out any underlying problems.
Grazing itself isn’t harmful,
especially if you can keep your dog from eating anything that has been treated
with pesticides or fertilizers. But if your pet’s pica behaviour makes you
uncomfortable, try some of the tips above or discuss with your vet about ways
to curb the habit.