Many dog owners come up with this problem: my dog keeps eating grass and if you have the same case you might ask yourself it this is a sign of an illness, if it is safe or if you should do something about this.
The habit of eating grass is quite common in dogs (and cats do it too) and you might find out that your dog only likes certain types of grass while ignoring all the others. The grass isn’t usually harmful for them and it is uncertain why they have the habit of eating it but there are several theories to clarify the problem.
Dogs Aren’t Carnivores
The idea that dogs are only meat eaters is quite wrong. Felines are carnivores, but dogs are omnivores that eat anything they can find. The term for their diet was called opportunistic scavengers and through the many years of living alongside humans they ate whatever leftovers they could find.
Grass Eating As a Treatment
The main presupposition about grass eating is that dogs do this when they don’t feel well to make themselves vomit out the things that make them uncomfortable.
There are many who contest this theory because the habit was seen on many dogs that don’t have stomach problems and less than 10% of them seem to be sick before. Also only about a quarter of them vomit regularly after eating grass.
They Eat It for the Health Benefits
Other theories talk of this habit as a way of improving the dog’s digestion and helping treat intestinal worms while also adding fiber to their diet along with other needed micronutrients.
There is a study which describes a poodle eating grass and vomiting daily for seven years and after the owner added fiber to their diet this habit stopped. If you are cooking the dog’s food at home you should check with a vet to ensure the pet receives all the nutrients it needs from it.
Maybe They Just Like the Taste
Dogs are natural scavengers and they seek nutrition anywhere they can find it, so maybe they find the taste to be quite yummy. Over a period of tens of thousands of years dogs were opportunistic and ate anything they could find to survive, so, – if grass is around why not? Wild canines eat many kinds of vegetables and fruits so grass shouldn’t be any different.
The technical term for eating things that aren’t food is “pica”, but this isn’t the case with grass and most veterinarians consider it a normal behavior for dogs. Grass is the thing they eat the most, so they have to enjoy it.
When you leave a dog in a backyard for a long time he might not have too many things to do there and he could start nabbing on what is around. If you don’t offer your dog enough attention the reason for grass eating might simply be boredom. Check out if this behavior continues if you walk him for longer periods and playing with him more often.
Problems with Eating Grass
If the grass was sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides then the ingestion of large amounts might lead to severe problems. If you think your dog might have been poisoned from the lawn treatments (herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides can be really harmful) then you should go to the vet as soon as possible.
To ensure that this won’t happen to your pet you should only use non-toxic products on your lawn and if going for walks through public areas always check for signs about the chemicals used on the grass. Another way to approach this is to grow an herb garden specifically as a snack for your pet.
Compulsive Grass Eating
For some dogs eating grass becomes more than a habit and it might be a sign of anxiety. If you see the dog doing this excessively it might be due to some behavioral problems and you need to address those things first to stop the bad habit.
How to Stop This Behavior
Think of the reason why your pet is doing this first. Check out all the things we mentioned above and see what is the case with your dog because this will tell you how to stop the behavior. It is important to ask yourself if the act of eating grass is actually harmful to the pet or not.
Some pets will just eat grass because they like it and if this is the case check the diet you are giving him to see what is missing. Oftentimes dog owners only feed them meat and they don’t get the fibers and other needed nutrients from their diet.
Making sure your pet gets enough exercise also helps because as you have seen boredom can be a reason for him to start scavenging. Get some chew toys and see if this stops them from grazing.