The Happy Puppers

Why do dogs eat grass?

Why do dogs eat grass?

Ever wondered why does your dog tend to eat grass when you take him out for his walk?

Most of the time when Delta is out on his walk, he tends to munch on the grass on the side of the road. Despite being a chicken loving pup, his obsession with eating grass is quite intriguing to me. Considering the fact that he hates cows, why is he taking up their habits??
Could it be that he is
  • Sick?
  • Hungry?
  • Bored?
  • Become a vegetarian??
Thus, I decided to find out the reason behind such behavior. Stay tuned if this is something that has been perplexing you too…
Are you perplexed by the same behavior being displayed by your pup?
Yes?
Then you are at the right place.
Let’s start with a label. What is this grass-eating behavior referred to as? This type of behavior is called PICA.
 
What is PICA?
PICA is technically used to refer to a disorder in which your dog eats items which are not food (any item which has extremely negligible nutritional value). PICA can actually implicate towards your dog having certain nutritional deficiencies or it may simply indicate that your dog is feeling bored.
 
This behavior is most commonly noticed in young dogs and puppies. With an increase in age, this behavior normally goes away.
Indulging in the grass is actually a quite common behavior in wild dogs. This type of PICA has also not been observed to cause many problems in dogs. As per most veterinarians, this can be considered as a common behavior displayed by most domesticated dogs.
A small survey had found that of among 49 domesticated dogs who had access to grass, 79% of them had eaten grass at some point in time. A study has also found that grass is the most commonly preferred plant for consumption by dogs.
Your dog's tendency and frequency of eating grass can tell you a lot about him/her
Your dog’s tendency and frequency of eating grass can tell you a lot about him/her
Reasons why your dog might be eating grass
As per available evidence and contrary to popular beliefs, dogs don’t eat grass because they are sick. As a matter of fact, less than 10% of dogs who eat grass have been reported to be sick priorly. Furthermore, eating grass doesn’t lead to the induction of vomiting. As per surveys, <25% of dogs who eat grass actually throw up after doing so.
  • Some of the possible reason behind your dog’s tendency to eat grass could be:
  • Unmet nutritional needs
  • Aiding digestion
  • Presence of intestinal worms
  • The need for fiber intake
  • Your dog just likes the taste of grass..!!
One study has reported a case of a miniature poodle who ate grass followed by vomiting every single day for 7 whole years. Once the owner transferred the dog on to a high fibre diet, within a span of 3 days, the dog stopped eating grass.

Your dog might also eat grass to purposefully induce vomiting. Eating a lot of grass without properly chewing tickles the side of their throat causing vomiting. Dogs generally tend to display such behaviour if they have eaten something which makes them feel ill.

Should you stop your dog from eating grass?
This depends on a multitude of factors like
  • Does your dog eat grass obsessively?
  • Is it a once in a while behavior?
  • Is he/she doing it out of boredom?

In case eating grass is an occasional behavior:

You have nothing to worry about. Occasional grass eating will not hurt your pup.
In case you think your dog is eating grass due to boredom, it means that your pup is lacking in exercise. You need to do a bit more to keep your dog engaged and help him/her stave off that excess energy. If you are stuck indoors, you can follow this DIY indoor dog activity course to help your pup release extra energy. Alternatively, you can also make these homemade dog toys and give your pup something to chew on to keep busy.
On the offside, if your dog is chewing grass due to unmet nutritional needs, switch the diet to a high fiber one. This might help reduce or eradicate the problem completely.
Check your plants:
Even though under most conditions, munching on grass and plants is not toxic to dogs, some household plants might be toxic or the pesticides and herbicides sprayed in lawns can cause problems if ingested. Thus, check the ASPCA’s animal poison control center website to find out which plants are toxic and which are non-toxic.
When should you take your dog to the vet?
If your dog ingested grass, vomited and then seems okay, there is nothing to worry about. Your dog probably took care of whatever was bothering him or her.
However, on the other hand, if this seems like an obsessive behavior which extends from grass to chewing on practically any and everything they can get their paws on, then it is probably time to pay a visit to your vet. Your dog might be suffering from PICA.
Dogs suffering from PICA tend to get drawn to garbage, paper, dirt, cloth and feces. This type of behavior if left unchecked and cause severe nutritional and digestive issues down the lane.
In case of any doubt, always consult your vet. Your vet will be able to find out via physically examining your pup as well as sending your dog’s stool and blood for detailed blood count and biochemistry panel examination. The blood count will let you know if your dog is suffering from any kind of inflammation or has internal bleeding of the GI tract. The biochemistry panel will let you know about the status of your dog’s liver and pancreas.
If your dog is showing the following symptoms concurrently with grass-induced vomiting:
  • lethargy
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
Immediately consult your vet.
If you don’t notice the above-mentioned symptoms, you can rest easy.
Bonus tip: You can buy a small grass tray for your dog or start a herbal home garden. This way you know what your dog is eating is not toxic or harmful.
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So does your dog eat grass? What are your dog’s unique behaviors? Let me know in the comment section below.
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