Does your dog like to chew on grass and then throw it up straight away? Would you like to know why some dogs do this?
Eating grass now and again is one of the most common dog behaviors that confuse owners. A recent survey found that the most common plant eaten by dogs is grass, with more than 67% of people admitting that this was a regular behavior by their dog.
So… why do dogs eat grass? Do they eat grass to induce vomiting, or is there some other reason behind this?
In this article, we will discuss why do dogs eat grass, and what are the reasons behind it?
1. They have an upset stomach
According to Dr. Kennedy, not all dogs eat grass to induce vomiting, however, some dogs eat grass to ease their stomach. When your dog is feeling sick they will sometimes eat grass to try and make their tummy feel better.
One common misconception with pet owners is that their dog eats grass and then develops pain and vomits, however, this is rarely the case. In most studies, it has been found that after eating grass, less than 25% of dogs vomit. In fact, only 10% of dogs were found to show any sign of illness before eating grass. The bottom line is that most dogs don’t eat grass to induce vomiting; however, if they are sick, they can eat grass to induce vomiting.
2. A dietary need
Dogs sometimes eat grass to satisfy their digestive needs. Dogs need to have some fiber in their diet and grass is a good source of it. A dog diet that is lacking in fiber will affect the dog’s ability to defecate properly, which means that the grass helps dogs perform some bodily functions effectively.
A dog usually spends most of their time with their owner. Most of them suffer separation anxiety when their owner leaves them alone. Some dogs enjoy time alone, however, those that get bored need an activity to pass their time. Nibbling grass is one of the dogs’ favorite activities and can pass hours.
Also, they can do this to crave human attention, as their owner may notice this inappropriate action. In fact, some dogs eat grass as a comfort mechanism; it’s the same as humans who bite their nails when they get nervous. It is also observed that as dogs become lonely, bored, or anxious, their grass-eating behavior increases.
4. Instinct behavior
The ancestors of dogs lived in the wild and had never eaten kibbles packed in seal bags. Back then dogs lived in the wild and balanced their daily diet by hunting and eating different things, such as bones, meat, internal organs, and stomach contents of their prey.
If they ate a whole animal, it would meet the requirement for a balanced diet, especially if its prey’s stomach was full of grass and fodder. This would meet the fiber’s requirement of their diet
Dogs are not carnivores or completely omnivores, and in the wild, they will eat anything that meets nutritional requirements.
If we examine the stool sample of wolves, it shows that between 11-47% eat grass. Modern dogs have a lot of modern luxuries and do not need to hunt for food, however, that does not mean that they forget their natural instinct to search for food.
In fact, most dogs that love to eat commercial kibble still eat grass just to reflect their heritage and satisfy their scavenger needs. If you think your dog has a grass-eating behavior problem, this is not a problem.
There is no need to worry because occasional grazing won’t hurt your dog or make him sick. If you try to modify your dog’s natural instinct, you will do more harm than good.
Keep your grass dog-friendly
If your dog likes to eat grass, make your grass dog friendly. Avoid pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Another thing to do is clean up your dog’s poop from the grass daily and make sure your dog eats only that grass free from contamination.
You should also keep an eye on the type of seeds in your backyard. A small dried seed known as foxtail is commonly found in backyards. If digested this can pose a serious health risk to your dog. This poses a greater risk in the springtime and with humid conditions.
If you find foxtail is present in your backyard, remove it immediately. You can soak it in vinegar or remove it from ground level and keep an eye on your dog when playing.
Likewise, if you find any other types of long, stiff grass which have sharp edges, keep your dog away from them because they can cause a throat abrasion, which is not good for dog health. Also, if a dog has a sensitive stomach and eats this type of grass, they can suffer from serious digestive problems. If your dog starts coughing or any other sign of irritation after eating grass, contact your vet immediately.
How to stop your dog from eating grass?
Although your dog might be eating grass, it is still not the best food for him. Let’s look at it scientifically. The grass itself is not a problem, but herbicides or pesticides sprayed on it are harmful and can cause toxicity and affect your dog’s health.
Similarly, when your dog pulls grass from the ground, he may also ingest some worms such as roundworms or hookworms present in the lawn due to other dogs’ fecal matter.
So what should you do to prevent your dog from eating grass?
Dogs that like to eat treats can be trained to stop eating grass in exchange for treats. This means that when you take your dog for a walk or take them for toilet breaks, take treats with you. Whenever your dog tries to eat grass, distract him and take him for a walk in the other direction, stop him verbally, and give him a treat as a reward gift.
For those dogs that eat grass out of anxiety or separation anxiety, leave them an old t-shirt or a new toy that has your scent on it. This scent will give them comfort for some time. You can also use food puzzle toys that will ease their boredom and provide mental stimulation.
You can also give them time to play, or if your dog needs attention all the time, you can send them to doggie daycare.
When to take your dog to the vet?
There are certain things that you should be aware of when your dog eats grass. If they eat grass and then vomit, you don’t have to worry, they have taken care of what was them. If they eat grass and keep throwing up, it’s an alarming sign that you should take them to the vet straight away. Similarly, if you think your dog is eating grass and acting out of character, you should speak to your vet.
Normally eating grass is not a cause for much concern, but if your dog ingests foreign objects along with grass regularly, this may be due to a condition called Pica. Pica is a condition in which they begin to eat those objects that are not considered food, such as paper, cloth, dirt, feces, and garbage, and if you continue to ignore this condition, it can cause serious digestive problems.
Dogs eat grass for many reasons, and eating grass is not a cause for concern as long as it doesn’t cause them any harm. For this, you can keep your lawn free of herbicides and pesticides. You can also create a dog safe area for them on your lawn. If you still feel that this habit is increasing and creating any dog health problems, you should contact your vet.