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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Picture of a dog standing in grass

Dogs aren’t cows, so a lot of pet parents might feel a little confused as to why their canine buddies start eating grass. The truth is that even dogs that have a well-balanced diet sometimes go for the green stuff, and they often do it on a regular basis. Studies have shown that the vast majority of grasses can’t make dogs throw up. Therefore, the assumption according to which dogs eat grass to regulate their diet is a misconception.

So, why do dogs eat grass, after all? Let’s find out in this article. 

The why

There are an array of reasons your canine friend might start grazing on your lawn. Some people say that our pets turn to eating grass when they aren’t well fed. Some say that it’s a method of regulating their digestion when they’ve eaten something bad and they need to vomit to get rid of the potentially toxic substance. Others just say that dogs just aren’t smart enough to realize when they can fix things on their own — but we all know that that’s not true.

There are studies that have shown that less than 10% of all dogs that eat grass don’t necessarily feel unwell before they do it. Besides, grass-eating doesn’t typically lead to vomiting, and only about a quarter of the dogs that do eat grass will throw up following this. 

Most veterinarians agree that our canine companions do eat grass to improve digestion or try to fulfill some unmet nutritional needs. Apparently, it can also be an alternative way of treating intestinal worms, but in many cases, your dog just might need an extra of fiber in his or her diet and has no means of getting it elsewhere or by any other means.

The answer might be a lot simpler than what we might think. Some dogs just like the taste or the consistency of grass as they chew on it. According to Andrea Rediger from Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, there’s a theory that states that since dogs are naturally omnivores, they will try to incorporate a small amount of plant material into their diet. In times of need, our canine friends’ ancestors used to eat grass if they had no access to other types of food. Even now, wild canids still commonly eat grass. 

The why not

If you don’t notice your pet eating grass or even trying to, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. However, if it does start happening all of a sudden and you can’t seem to find a reason for this type of behavior, it’s definitely time to go to the vet and see whether there isn’t an underlying issue you might not have noticed.

Typically, dogs that have no appetite for eating grass are fed a balanced diet. As such, you’re actually doing a good job and supplying your canine buddy with all the nutrients that he or she needs, including enough fiber for good digestion. 

Can eating grass be dangerous for dogs?

In the vast majority of cases, allowing your dog to eat grass doesn’t pose any particular risk. If your dog has been doing it ever since you can remember, and the amount of grass ingested isn’t all that impressive, it’s quite likely that you have nothing to worry about. 

The thing with grass is that it’s not as healthy as we might think, especially if you tend to walk your dog through parks or generally, places that other dogs or people might have access to. First of all, most grass and vegetation in public places is treated against insects, so the risk of your canine friend ingesting an insecticide is rather high. 

Secondly, you can’t rule out the possibility that a dog has pooped on the grass a week before your pet eats that particular patch. As you might expect, that type of behavior can lead to your dog having worms. What if it’s your lawn? What if you live on a farm and use no insecticide? Even in such cases, the grass isn’t completely safe, and that’s because wild animals, birds, or just other species might have access to it and could have contaminated it with germs or parasite larvae.  

How can you stop your dog from eating grass?

Now that we’ve established that grass isn’t the best snack for your pet, let’s see what you can do to prevent this behavior altogether. For dogs that respond to food treats, the problem is somewhat easy to solve as all you have to do is bring some treats along each time you take your dog out for a walk. Each time he or she leans down to nibble grass, just distract your pet, offer a verbal correction, and then offer a treat. 

The same goes for dogs that respond to verbal commands. You can actively prevent your dog from eating grass by asking him or her to follow a command.

Some dogs suffer from pica, which is caused by a nutritional deficiency, so switching to high-fiber and overall better dog food might be a solution, too. If you notice that things start to happen too often, though, make sure you take your dog to the vet. We would also recommend keeping track of your dog’s grass-eating habits on the whole so that you notice when there’s a change in them. Report these behavioral changes to the veterinarian when you take your dog in for a checkup.

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