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?
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 health problems.
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 eating grass?
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.