Surely on more than one occasion, you might have seen your dog eating grass in the park, and you may have wondered if it is good to let him eat it or prevent him from doing so.
Eating grass is a fairly common behavior in dogs, and there are many owners who are concerned about the issue, consider it as one of the major problems and end up consulting their veterinarian.
At first, you might be thinking or assuming the following:
Is he hungry?
Is he Sick?
Is he Bored?
Is he Playing?
To get the real answer to our intended question, let’s proceed and try to understand why our dog eats grass and if we should allow this behavior.
Some studies report, 68% of dogs eat grass regularly. As you can see, it is a fairly high percentage; however, hardly any research has been conducted to determine the causes of this behavior.
Likewise, there are several theories that try to justify this behavior, so we will review them one by one to get to understand this behavior.
#Do they Eat grass to Purge?
The most popular explanation is that dogs eat grass to purge. That is, dogs would eat grass with the aim of vomiting and, thus, relieve their upset stomach or possible parasites troubling them inside.
It is seen that they directly swallow, instead of eating, long plants and bushes without chewing it properly. Resultantly, unchewed parts tickle them and stimulate them to vomit.
But what does science say about this hypothesis? A study conducted by the University of California investigated this issue, and the results obtained were the following:
- 68% of the dogs studied ate plants or grass on a regular basis.
- Only 9% of dogs suffered symptoms of illness before eating grass.
- In only 22% of cases, vomiting occurred after eating grass.
If we evaluate these results, we observe that the percentage of dogs that presented discomfort before consuming grass was very low, and also, they did not always manage to vomit after ingesting it.
Therefore, according to this study, the intake of grass does not have to be fully associated with gastric discomfort, and eating plants or grass could simply be a natural behavior of the dog.
# Is your Dog under the Influence of Pica?
Pica is a disorder seen among dogs where they crave to ingest elements that are not food. The scientific disease urges the desire among pooches to eat rocks, shoes, paper, dirt, and even clothes.
“It is often indicated as a sign of boredom!”
On Vet consultation, Pica came out to be harmless to pets, causing no serious danger to animals. Again, it accounted to be a dog’s normal behavior.
A conducted survey acts as proof to the above statement: “49 dog parents reported this strange act of their tamed pet which, when analyzed, found that 79% of dogs have access to some kind of plants/grass and consume it sometime or the other.”
You May Intend to View: “Serious Causes of Pica in Dogs.”
# Do they lack any Nutritional Diet?
There are some experts who ensure that dogs eat grass to meet their nutritional needs.
In the case of wolves, this theory is true, since a diet based exclusively on meat would be deficient; Therefore, they ingest the stomach contents of their prey (which has partially digested vegetables) and eat fruits as part of their usual diet.
However, the nutritional needs of the domestic dog are assured with high-end feeds that already contain adequate levels of vegetables.
Studies predicted, furry fabs that received a balanced diet also showed the same behavior of eating grass and throwing it then after. So, we can confirm that the consumption of grass doesn’t conclude the story giving the reason with nutritional deficiencies.
Consider Reading: “What Fruits can Dog Eat? Healthy Snacks For your Pet.”
# Are they Hungry Again?
You fed your furry friend an hour ago, and now when you look for it, it’s busy grazing the grass and is happily munching over it.
What does Science say?
Studies show that this behavior is directly related to satiety; that is, dogs eat more grass not because they are hungry, but also when they aren’t satisfied with the food and crave for more.
Therefore, this theory could explain a “grass pecking” behavior in those animals that are anxious about food and do not feel easily satiated.
Might be Interest in Reading: “Feeding Habits can Affect your Dog’s Behavior.”
# Do they Like the Taste?
The intake of grass is a habitual behavior in wild wolves and has its justification. Wild canids eat grass and other vegetables to favor the elimination of parasites and as part of their diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Dogs descend from wolves, and many of our pets’ behaviors are innate inheritance of their wild ancestors.
It seems that dogs are attracted to the taste of the herb and like the habit of chewing it. In fact, it has been seen that dogs that have direct access to grass usually spend a minimum of three minutes a day to consume it.
Therefore, we can conclude that currently, the most successful theory would be that dogs eat grass naturally and because they like it, this being normal and inherited behavior.
# Should we Let them Continue to Eat Grass?
Now that you know that it is a natural behavior and that it can be pleasant for our dog, you are probably wondering if it is good for a dog to eat grass regularly or if it can cause health problems.
From an ethological or behavioral point of view, we should let dogs eat grass if they wish and not repress this behavior. However, from a health perspective, we should not let them eat grass from the street or from the countryside.
Eating this type of herb can have a number of health risks:
- The grass in the parks is usually treated with pesticides, so if our dog ingests it, it can be poisoned.
- Field plants, although we think they are natural and safe, can be a vehicle for parasites in the form of larvae or eggs and cause infestations in our pet if it eats them.
If you want your dog to enjoy eating grass safely, you can consider the option of placing a pot at home and planting grass or other edible grass on it.
[Nota Bene (NB):
We must not forget that there are dogs with digestive sensitivity and may not tolerate eating grass well; Therefore, in case of vomiting or diarrhea, ingestion is contraindicated.]
# Are there any Ways to Prevent this Behavior?
You can follow some steps to stop your dogs from eating bushes, plants, or other fancy fibers. Take a rundown:
- Get your furry pal to get involved in some physical activities, fun tasks, and exercises so that it is busy with events and have no time to ingest the non-edible things.
- Play with them routinely to divert their mind from showing such behavioral transitions, which additionally keeps them healthy, active, happy, and anxiety-free.
- If you fear about the nutritional deficiencies, feed them with high-fiber food and switch to better dog food rich in essential nutrients.
Prefer Reading: “Signs your dog is Happy: How to Distinct Happy from Sad Puppy.”