Is It Common for Dogs to Eat Grass?
As a dog owner, you’ve probably seen your dog munch on the grass a couple of times. According to a study carried out by researchers at the University of California, about 68% of dog owners reported that their dogs eat grass weekly.
The good news is you’re not alone in your concern about this weird dog behavior. It‘s quite common and completely natural for dogs to eat grass. In fact, many vets consider it quite safe for your dog to eat grass and see no harm in letting your lovely pooch eat grass.
Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
While it might be common, natural, and healthy for your canine companion to occasionally eat grass, there could be underlying reasons behind this behavior. Let’s look at the most common reasons why your dog might eat grass.
To Add Fiber to their Diet or as a Form of Pica
If you’re wondering what pica is, it’s essentially a compulsive eating disorder of eating non-food items. In people, pica can include eating clay, dirt, or even flaking paint. It can be quite different in dogs and may include eating grass. This behavior can sometimes be caused by a diet deficiency, which is easily explainable in dogs.
Dogs are omnivores, which is to say that a good part of their diet should include quality meat as well as plant food. While many commercial dog foods should have all the nutrients required by your dog, some food may lack the necessary minerals, nutrients, and vitamins.
If such nutrients are missing from your dog’s daily intake, he may resort to eating grass as a way of getting more fiber and roughages that are necessary for helping him pass gas and stool while also helping in other bodily functions.
In short, eating grass could be an easy way for your dog to add some fiber to his diet. This is essential in helping things to follow through their gastrointestinal or digestive tract. Just like humans, dogs require fiber in their diets for their digestive system to function efficiently.
Eating a little grass might be all your dog needs to feel much better and have a properly functioning digestive tract.
What to do: You can consider adding more fiber to your dog’s diet if you think that he’s eating grass to supplement his diet. You should switch to a high-fiber diet as this could help alleviate this grass-eating behavior.
To Induce Vomiting
It’s important to note beforehand that not all dogs will vomit after eating grass. In fact, a majority of dogs will eat grass without necessarily vomiting afterward. However, your dog might munch on the grass to induce vomiting if he has a stomach upset. Keep in mind that dogs do suffer from several gastrointestinal tract issues including inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and gastric reflux.
If your dog suffers from any of these diseases or any other form of stomach upset for that matter, he may resort to eating grass to induce vomiting and have a better tummy. You have to keep in mind that it’s actually quite difficult to tell whether or not your dog is vomiting because of eating grass or because he has a stomach upset and thought that eating grass would help.
With that in mind, you should be careful if your dog eats grass and vomits afterward. You have to be attentive and see if your dog shows signs of stomach discomfort as there could be a medical problem. It could be a sign that your dog is suffering from the above-mentioned gastrointestinal tract issues.
What to do: You should look for signs of diarrhea, lack of appetite, constipation, or decreased energy and this could be time to see your vet.
A Sign of Boredom and Anxiety
Much like people who crassly bite on their nails when bored or anxious, your lovely pooch may resort to eating grass when he’s bored or anxious. Let’s say that your dog isn’t showing any signs of gastrointestinal tract issues but relentlessly eats grass, it could be a clear sign that he’s bored and anxious.
It could also be a sign that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety when he leaves the house or when separated from other dogs. This could be a sign of a behavioral issue and munching persistently on grass could be reassuring to him.
What to do: If you suspect that your dog is eating grass because he’s bored or anxious, you can eradicate this behavioral issue by increasing the length, distance, or intensity of his exercises or walks. You may also try to reassure the dog by leaving a familiar scent near him so that he doesn’t become anxious.
You should keep your lovely pooch entertained for long periods and provide him with plenty of toys. Make sure that he plays for at least 30 minutes every day and also take him out for morning and evening walks.
That’s not all; eating grass could also be a sign of obsessive behaviors, so it could be right to see a vet and follow his/her advice on how to help your dog reduce obsessive behaviors.
While this might be difficult to prove, it’s believed that some dogs may choose to eat grass as a simple instinctive behavior. Your dog may not have any medical or behavioral issues but still chooses to eat grass when out there.
What to do: You should look for any other signs of an issue and perhaps take your canine companion to a vet. If he doesn’t have any medical issues and continues eating grass, just make sure that the grass is safe for him.
Is It Safe for Your Dog to Eat Grass?
While eating grass isn’t necessarily harmful to your dog, it can be an easy way to pick up intestinal parasites from animal droppings or stool. This could turn out to be problematic down the line. For this reason, it’s essential to keep an eye on the type of grass that your dog is eating.
You should make sure that the grass hasn’t been treated with pesticides, fertilizers, or any other toxic product as this can be deadly to your lovely pooch.
Overall, your dog eating grass shouldn’t be a major cause of concern unless there are other issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and reduced energy that accompanies the grass-eating habit.