7 main reasons why dogs eat grass.
As your dog gets older you may find his habits change throughout his/her life. That’s nature.
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Every once in a while, a dog owner notices that their little furry child, their joy in life, is happily munching on grass. Then, after looking at them with love in their eyes for a while, they notice something else: the dog has vomited everything it has eaten that day!
This is a situation that puzzles many dog owners even today — is a dog eating grass an example of normal behavior? Will, it hurt them? Can anything be done about it?
Chances are, most dog owners have googled these questions time and time again, hoping they’ll find out something else about their pup’s favorite activity. Yet, in the end, all those searches come down to a few reasons.
Although you’d think many studies have been conducted about this strange behavior, the truth is that there is only a handful of them. What’s more, they haven’t given us the answers we have been looking for, probably due to the fact we cannot just ask dogs why they do it!
But in general, there are seven main reasons why we might catch our dog eating grass:
They are incredibly bored
Sure, running around with other pups is fantastic! But when our dogs get tired, they’re bound to lay on the grass and look for more peaceful activity. Thus, they will usually start pulling on some pieces and eating them out of sheer boredom.
Honestly, this situation is not that bad, as the dog won’t probably be left alone for an extended period of time. As soon as the other dogs see that it’s lying on the grass, they’ll try to tease it to come and play. However, if the dog does this often, there might be something else going on.
They just love the taste
Think about it — has anyone ever seen a dog refuse any sort of food? Of course not! Dogs love eating, and they love eating pretty much anything. From fruits and vegetables to some types of people food (we’ve all seen dogs go wild for pies), they don’t have a problem trying new foods and enjoying them.
Thus, when we see our dog eating grass, chances are our canine friend just loves how it tastes. After all, we have probably never tried it ourselves, so they probably just see it as a nice nutritious meal.
They are trying to make themselves vomit
Since dogs love to eat, it’s no wonder they might feel sick every once in a while. Hence, if we see them eating some grass, there’s a good chance they are trying to make themselves vomit.
Although no one really knows if it’s the grass that makes them vomit or not, it seems like a good solution to them. As much as we don’t like feeling nauseous, dogs don’t like it too. Thus, if there’s something that can help them eliminate the food they’ve already eaten, they’ll try it.
It’s in their nature
Although quite common nowadays in domesticated dogs, eating grass is also a common occurrence among wild dogs. Why? Well, it’s simple — it is in their nature to do that.
Since dogs are scavengers, they rely on their sense of smell to find food wherever they go. However, due to the lack of food in the past and the fact that there are people who don’t like dogs, they have had to figure out new ways of acquiring a good meal.
Thus, when in doubt, they could always turn to grass. What’s more, eating grass was much easier in the past, as there were no real pesticides or toxic fertilizers. It was safer to do it back then, which is why if we notice our dogs are doing the same thing now, we ought to do something about it.
They are anxious
Believe it or not, dogs are also prone to anxiety, and they may try to curb it by repeating some actions or indulging in a bit of grass. Eating something that’s near them and that seems comforting can calm a dog, especially since the action will be repetitive.
Still, just because we have caught our dog eating grass once, it doesn’t mean it has an anxiety disorder. The grass-eating phase is usually boredom or a gluttony problem. However, if the dog is always eating grass when out in the park, then this could be a sign they might be upset and anxious.
They’re trying to get our attention
One of the reasons why we could catch our dog eating grass is that they are trying to get our attention. Since eating anything forbidden, or in other words, anything the owner has not given them, is bad, dogs may try to sneak a few bits of grass here and there in other to get a reaction from us.
This goes in line with the fact that they might be bored. As such, introducing proper exercise and extra activities could be a viable solution here, as the dog might just stop eating grass altogether.
They need fiber they’re not getting from their regular food
Finally, sometimes our dogs feel as if they are not getting enough fiber from their food. This could be a sign of poor nutrition or a sign that we’re feeding our dogs with food that’s low-quality. Either way, they will eat grass if they cannot digest the food properly or if the food has made them nauseous.
Although many would think that eating grass is bad for their dogs, the truth is that there isn’t anything wrong with it. We wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s a healthy pastime, especially if the dog is eating grass that has been treated with toxic treatments. However, a little bit of grazing now and then won’t hurt them.
Still, the problem is that we cannot know if the grass is “healthy” for the dog or not. What’s more, dogs are not that great at stopping when they’re full. If they are especially bored, they might keep grazing until they get sick, and that’s exactly when we have a problem.
Just like humans, dogs are prone to violent vomiting. However, their little bodies cannot withstand that for too long, especially if we’re talking about puppies. Furthermore, puppies, which are known for nibbling on just about anything, could easily make themselves ill. Chewing sticks, grass and all sorts of things they find in a park can lead to a blockage, which means the dog could end up at the vet’s office.
Just like us, dogs can also recognize when they need nutrients. However, in order to get them, they most often rely on their scavenger skills and their sense of smell. Usually, this makes them eat grass, as some types of it are great sources of potassium and phytonutrients.
Apart from keeping themselves entertained, that’s the only good reason why a dog eating grass wouldn’t be a problem. But if something’s in the grass, either bacteria or worse, something they can accidentally eat while grazing, dogs can get sick. Also, it’s widely known that our pups cannot really digest grass. So in essence, whenever they eat it — unless they’ve eaten a little bit only — they’re bound to vomit.
In the short term, eating grass is not a problem. It is a pastime most dogs love, and it seems that there’s nothing wrong with it unless they’re grazing often. However, we can run into major issues if we allow the dog to eat grass that contains chemicals.
Most often, parks will have signs set up that say that the dogs shouldn’t eat the grass. In fact, some chemicals people use to maintain their lawn, greenery, etc. can actually hurt our dog’s paws. If we see such a sign, then we ought to be strict and work on explaining to the dog why they shouldn’t be grazing.
Yet there’s another issue that we have already mentioned. Unless we’re able to actually take some grass and run some tests on it, we cannot possibly know if it’s full of toxins. Thus, it’s better to be safe than sorry and prevent the dog from grazing in advance.
Adjust their diet
As mentioned, if we notice that our canine friends have started to eat grass, the problem could be their diet. Often, the commercially sold dog food leaves much to be desired in terms of nutrition and fiber. Thus, if eating grass is a way for the dog to cope with the lack of proper food, it’s time to do something about it!
A good way to find out which is the best dog food out there is to just check out the reviews. However, we need to make sure the reviews are coming from dog owners who have given it to their dogs and can confirm this has made them stop eating grass or made them healthier.
In any case, this isn’t an area where we should try to save some money. Given the fact that eating grass can sometimes lead to blockages and vomiting, it’s essential to take care of our dogs and ensure they have the best chance of reaching a certain age.
Commercial dog food brands
There are a few ingredients that may help the dog stop eating grass and improve its digestion:
- Soybean, peanut, and rice hulls
- Corn and corn by-products
We could also opt to give our dog some steamed veggies. This is actually a good alternative, especially for dogs that refuse to eat the same brand of food every day. Vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, squash, peppers, carrots, spinach, and celery are fair game here, and the dog will most likely love the taste as well. And, to make the meal even tastier, consider adding sweet potatoes and green beans as well.
When introducing a new food, we ought to do it slowly. So unless we want the dog to starve, we need to mix either a homemade meal with his regular food or mix another brand of dog food with his everyday meals.
Discourage them from eating grass
Now, if cooking for our dogs still hasn’t repelled them enough from eating grass, it’s time to discourage them. This can be done by spraying the lawn or plants with things that don’t smell nice at all to them.
For example, we could use some smelly spices and sprinkle them around the plants in our home. Coffee is another alternative, but since it’s toxic for dogs, we would advise against trying this.
Furthermore, if the dog is particularly fond of nibbling the grass outside, then we can sprinkle some cayenne pepper or chili powder in the places it loves the most. In general, it would be good to sprinkle these on the edges of the lawn as well. That way, we’ll ensure that the dog doesn’t look for a fresh piece of grass somewhere else.
There are also plants that dogs don’t like, neither to munch on nor to smell them. These include citrus trees and aloe, as well as marigold and lemongrass. By planting them, the dog will probably stay as far away from them as possible. Moreover, it’ll probably associate their smell with the fact that eating grass is a no-no.
Introduce fun activities to distract them
If the dog keeps chewing on grass because it is boring, it’s time to buy either a dental or a chewy bone to keep it occupied. These will serve as distractors, as the dog will just find them more amusing than the plain old grass.
Also, we should consider buying a toy that squeaks when bitten. Although that will make our ears bleed a bit, it will entertain the dog even further. Additionally, setting time aside for playtime each day is a good idea too. This way, we’ll ensure the dog gets exhausted and that it doesn’t even think about nibbling on some grass.
However, we ought to remember that if we are away from home a lot, the dog will need to have fun while we’re not there as well. So scattering a few toys here and there, as well as a few chewy bones is a fantastic solution. The point is to distract the dog so much that it never actually wishes to choose grass over regular food.
Train them not to do it
One of the best ways of stopping a dog from indulging in the grass is to train it not to do it. But this process won’t be easy, as it’s basically the same as when we’re teaching them not to pee inside.
Whenever we see the dog eating grass, we ought to reprimand it and be strict. It probably won’t get it the first time, so we’ll have to tell it to stop a few more times. But eventually, it will work!
It’s crucial for dogs to notice that this sort of behavior is making us angry. Since they can get quite attached to their owners, it’s likely they’ll figure out that something about this is upsetting us. So in order to mend that, they will start to listen. Still, if it doesn’t work, any of the other methods should!
Give them their own plants
If you’ve tried all of the above and the dog still insists on eating grass, then another solution would be to let it, but ensure that it’s eating only the good types of plants.
Getting a small piece of grass to put on your balcony is a fine idea, as long as it hasn’t been treated with anything. Also, consider giving the dog its own plant that it can munch on whenever it’s boring or anxious.
Rosemary, peppermint and milk thistle are sound choices. Still, if you cannot find those, then get an astragalus or a burdock herb.
If nothing helps, go to the vet
In the end, if the dog keeps eating grass even though it’s making it sick every time, taking it to the vet should be on our to-do list.
There might be an underlying condition we haven’t noticed that’s the real reason why it cannot stop. As mentioned, it might be trying to make itself vomit on purpose due to stomach discomfort.
However, if there’s nothing wrong with it, the vet might suggest taking the dog to a proper trainer. Trainers know more techniques than we do. More importantly, they can view the dog not as their child but as their client. Thus, their success rate is much better than ours and a viable solution for stubborn grass-eaters!
Whether or not we’ve caught our dog eating grass, it’s important to remember that it might not be a sign of a problem. They could be bored or trying to get our attention. That’s easy to solve by engaging them in some fun activities and making sure they get plenty of exercises.
Nevertheless, eating grass is something we should prevent, as we can never know what’s really in it. Luckily, there are quite a few methods we can try and improve both our dog’s well-being and life!