Dogs are one of the most adorable, lovable creatures on the planet. Sometimes, they surprise us with oddball antics, which leaves us wondering whether their behavior is normal or unusual.
Take for instance, when they start eating grass. Does this mean they’re hungry? Or are they unwell? More importantly, can eating grass cause negative side effects?
OwlRatings scoured the web to find answers to these questions. Below, you’ll find a detailed response to the question, ‘why do dogs eat grass?’
Reasons why dogs eat grass
Turns out, grass eating is a pretty common behavior among dogs, so you don’t have to be too alarmed. Unfortunately, the reason why they engage in this foraging behavior is not very clear. But, there are a couple of theories that have been put forward to explain this. They include:
To induce vomiting
One theory has it that dogs eat grass as a deliberate attempt to induce vomiting. Let’s say your dog feels like he’s swallowed something that’s making him feel unwell. He may try to eat grass to enable him to throw up so he can get some relief.
If this is the reason, you will notice that your dog swallows large mouthfuls grass in haste, at times without even chewing. It’s believed that the long blades of grass help to tickle the throat and tummy lining; hence, prompting him to throw up.
Based on scientific evidence though, there’s little truth to this theory. Research studies show that a measly 25% of dogs throw up after eating grass. They also reveal that just 10% of these animals manifest any signs of illness before eating grass.
This proves that self-medication is probably not the actual reason why dogs eat grass. Some experts also argue that dogs aren’t smart enough to figure out that vomiting is a form of relief.
Another argument put forward is that grass-eating comes naturally to dogs as a way of supplementing their diet. Like wolves, it’s believed that they try to eat grass to make up for nutrients that they find missing from their diet.
In one study, a Miniature Poodle ate grass for a period of 7 years. Each time the owner took him for a walk, he would munch grass and throw up shortly after. As soon as this owner switched to a high-fiber diet, the dog ceased this habit.
If you suspect this to be the cause of your dog’s grass-eating behavior, you might want to take a closer look at his current food.
Does it have all the essential nutrients? In particular, does it have a good amount of probiotics. Probiotics are the tiny micro-organisms that aid in digestion. As PetMD explains, the recommended intake of probiotic foods is as follows:
- A teaspoon per day for small dog breeds
- 2 teaspoons a day for medium-sized breeds
- 3 teaspoons a day for large and giant breeds
Good old-fashioned attention grabber
Let’s say you decide to take your dog for a walk. Each time you stop briefly to talk to someone, your pup instantly starts to engage in the grass-eating behavior.
If this is the case, he’s only trying to get your attention. Dogs are intelligent creatures. If they realize that you pay more attention when you notice them eating grass, they’ll catch on pretty fast.
Interestingly, experts advise owners to ignore their pups if they’re behaving this way. This way, they’ll learn that even eating grass doesn’t draw your attention.
Another reason that might explain dog’s grass-eating behavior is boredom. If your dog has nothing else to do, they might engage in this.
The good thing is that treating this is quite easy. All you need to do is provide your pet with enough exercise. Buy him toys that he can play with, especially if he’s stuck indoors most of the time.
Should you stop your dog from eating grass?
If your dog munches on grass just a few times, there’s no harm in this. But if he’s engaging in grass-eating either because of a nutrient deficiency or out of boredom, you might want to take action.
It’s also good to stop your dog from eating grass because of safety reasons. You don’t want your dog feeding on grass that’s been treated with toxic pesticides. There’s also the fact that some grass species are naturally toxic. If your pup ends up ingesting any of these, he may become gravely ill.
Grass-eating is not an unusual behavior in dogs. That said, there are numerous reasons why a pup might engage in this behavior. Possible reasons that explain this character include: nutrient deficiency, boredom, to draw someone’s attention and to induce vomiting.
If your dog has taken to this habit, observe him keenly. Take note of when it happens, as this might help you identify the cause. If the reason is nutrient deficiency, consider spicing up his diet a little bit. Incorporate more ingredients that aid with digestion and improve the overall flavor. But if the reason is boredom, spare time to play with him, or buy him toys that keep him active.