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WHY DO DOGS EAT GRASS?

Posted by Under the Weather on

If only they could talk, we would just come out and ask them.

So, Buddy, I’m wondering why you eat grass now and then. Aren’t you getting what you need in the food I’m feeding you? I mean, I just want to understand. It’s not like it’s as embarrassing as that other nasty habit you have … you know, eating your poop. But I just want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make you comfortable and that it’s nothing to be concerned about.”

Well, let’s see if we can help clarify the situation.

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Should You Be Worried?

The general consensus is that dogs eating grass is not something to worry about. However, there are a few exceptions to that way of thinking. The first is if your dog is eating grass that’s been treated with pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals. Watch for “keep off the grass” signs in public parks and heed their warning. Dogs could ingest these chemicals by eating the grass as well as licking their paws after walking on treated grass, and this is one of the leading causes of pet poisoning.

The second thing to watch for is whether your dog is vomiting after eating grass. If this is happening over and over, it can be damaging to your dog’s internal organs and teeth. A trip to the vet to see if there is something going on underneath the surface would be a good idea.

Related: Why is My Dog Vomiting?

Another reason to not let your dog eat grass in a public park is the danger of picking up parasites. Even the smallest amount of waste residue from another dog with parasites is enough to infest your dog’s intestines with parasites.

Why Do They Eat Grass?

There are a lot of theories as to why dogs eat grass – from psychological, to physical concerns, to natural instinct. No two dogs are alike, so they could be eating grass for completely different reasons.

Natural instinct: Some believe that dogs eat grass because they still revert back to the days when their ancestors scavenged prey and vegetation for their survival. Most dogs today receive a scientifically balanced diet in their dog food (well, depending on the brand). But some still possess the natural scavenging instinct. Trying to change this behavior may cause more stress than necessary. As long as it’s not causing harm, probably better to let them graze once in a while.

Psychological condition: Another belief is there may be a psychological imbalance. This reason is less likely, but some dogs can eat grass when they become agitated or anxious and turn to eating grass as a compulsive behavior. Just like humans in an anxious state, they are reaching for out for something to comfort them. If this is the reason for eating grass, a veterinarian can offer advice on the best way to tackle anxiety issues.

As a means to vomit: A more common theory is that dogs eat grass to make themselves vomit. However, researchers found that most dogs eating grass don’t act sick before eating grass and most don’t vomit after eating the grass. Their study also showed that dogs eating grass slowly rarely vomit afterward and those eating rapidly almost always vomit. So the dogs that eat grass as a means to vomit are not regular grass eaters, and when they do, they feed rapidly and vomit immediately. If the pattern continues, a trip to the vet to find the underlying cause is best.

Related: Why is My Dog Vomiting?

To improve digestion: Others believe that dogs eat grass as a way of improving their digestion by introducing more fiber to their normal diet. Eating a low fiber diet can cause problems in passing their stool, so they may be feeding on grass to make their bowels work more efficiently. If this could be the reason, a dog food with higher fiber or the addition of raw or lightly cooked vegetables could help.

To gain attention or out of boredom: When dogs are feeling neglected they can often be naughty just to gain their owner’s attention. After all attention is attention, even if the engagement is being scolded. Or, in the case of boredom, dogs can eat grass as a way of entertaining themselves. In both of these cases, owners should introduce a routine of regular physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Because they like grass: Another theory is that some dogs eat grass simply because they like the taste of it or like the texture of the grass in their mouth. The only way to determine this is the reason is to rule out all of the other theories. If this case, the grass eating will seldom cause vomiting; and if they do vomit, the dog’s desire for grass will outweigh the occasional barfing.

Eliminating Underlying Causes

Figuring out why your dog is eating grass is not an easy thing. A trip to your veterinarian for some tests can help eliminate any potential physical conditions. Take special note of your dog’s demeanor so you can give your vet the full scope of your dog’s behavior when eating grass. If you find that there are no signs of sickness, suggested treatments include making dietary changes, changing training or exercise routines, or just ignoring the behavior but keeping an eye on any possible reasons for concern.

Vomiting for Other Reasons?

If you find that your dog is vomiting with or without eating grass, there may be some kind of digestive upset going on. Maybe they just need to give their digestive system a break by introducing a bland diet of chicken and white rice for a few days. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be prepared for the next time your dog gets an upset tummy with our product, Under the Weather® Chicken & Rice bland diet. Keep a few packages on hand of this bland diet recipe of 100% human-grade white meat chicken and white rice. Just add boiling water to rehydrate the product and it’s ready to go! No meat by-products, gluten free, no chemicals or dyes and made in the U.S.A.!

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