Why is my dog eating grass and vomiting?
How many time have I heard that question? Countless times that’s how many. It is another one of those annoying habits that your dog may suddenly start up for no obvious reason. You see, as your dog ages, they tend to suddenly start up annoying little habits. There is no real reason for these habits starting. They may, out of the blue start eating their own or other animals poop, such as cats. Digging up your well-kept yard, and constant and annoying barking to name just a few.
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How common is your dog eating grass and vomiting?
Have you observed your dog eating grass in your yard or during walks? There is no need to be alarmed as it is a common behavior in our canine companions. Dog eating grass and vomiting does not necessarily indicate signs of illnesses. However, it is not clear why dogs engage in grass eating but there have been a few arguments. These arguments lead to three causes of dog eating grass but they are surrounded by various conspiracies.
Most people and even bloggers on the internet argue that dogs eat grass based on their scavenger instincts. This has been the most solid explanation for this behavior. In fact, most dog owners will confess to having seen their dogs graze in the yard.
Why do dogs eat grass?
Most dogs have eaten grass at some point in life, even as puppies. Puppies will graze to explore the world and how everything work but eventually stop at some point. This argument has also been supported by evidence of grass in canine ancestor’s waste.
However, this should not be associated with any dietary deficiencies as it was not supported in the scientific study. The study was conducted by researchers Karen Sueda, Benjamin Hart, and Kelly Cliff at the University of California, Davis.
In a journal published in the Applied Animal Behavior Science, the researchers based their findings on a series of surveys. The survey was aimed at proving whether dogs eat grass because they are ill or that it induces vomiting in dogs. The study also focused on proving whether the habit is related to any dietary deficiency.
The first study involved 25 dogs, and none indicated symptoms of illness before eating grass. However, all dogs ate grass and only two vomited thereafter. This study once again eliminated the argument that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting.
The second study featured 47 dogs brought to the hospital. In this study, 79% of the dogs ate grass and only 4 dogs had shown signs of illness before grazing. And only 6 dogs were reported to vomit regularly.
So do dogs eat grass to induce vomiting or are there underlying issues?
The conclusive study was web-based and involved 1571 data from dog owners. In this broader study, 68% of the dogs ate grass on a daily or weekly basis. 8%, however, showed signs of illnesses before engaging in grass eating and 22% vomited after grazing. This study also concluded that young dogs were not sick before grass eating and most of them did not vomit later on.
The above study includes the scientific findings surrounding dog eating grass and vomiting mystery. To conclude the study, another experiment was done in 2008. The researchers found grass in wolf droppings, showing that the canine family might be accustomed to eating grass.
Other reasons why dogs eat grass and vomit
Other than the above study, there have been claims that dogs may eat grass because of;
Dogs actually have really bad coping mechanisms as a result of boredom. He might go out and graze in the yard to spend some time. Even as we have looked into the above study, it is possible that your dog is eating grass to distract you.
Sometimes your dog might use the habit to get your attention, and he will keep doing so if you give it. In a case where your dog is doing so, you should train him out of the habit and need for attention. You can also play with him and increase his exercise time to get him to release energy.
2. He likes it
Well, it is not unusual for a dog to graze, and once he likes it, he might never stop. In fact, some puppies develop chronic grass eating behavior at an early age. They might have been exploring and curious but if they like it, they will do it continuously.
Younger dogs are unlikely to vomit from eating grass unless it is poisoned. You can curb this behavior by training him not to. When your dog knows that you are not happy with a certain behavior, he will eventually quit.
3. Copying older dogs
Puppies will copy habits from older dogs, and especially his mother. If he observes the mother eating grass, he is definitely going to try it as well. In the wild, dogs live in packs, with a dominant dog and the rest submit to him.
Usually, older dogs will dominate the packs and thus be the leaders. This means that if he engages in grass eating, the rest might follow suit.
4. To improve his digestion
Rumor has it that grass could actually be important to a dog’s digestive system. This is due to its nature of roughage and fiber which could also eliminate some parasites. However, this cannot be based on any scientific proof.
Is dog eating grass and vomiting harmful?
Grazing is not usually harmful to dogs, and many dog owners have reported experiencing this problem. However, it all depends on the grass he is grazing on. For instance, if your dog is grazing on treated grass, the pesticides and herbicides will have an effect on your tummy.
As indicated above, there has been limited scientific research on why dogs eat grass. If you, however, notice an increase in the behavior all of a sudden, you should consult your vet.
You should also be careful with where you let your dog graze. This is because he might consume toxic plants which could lead to tummy issues. For instance, you should not let him graze in the park as the grass might be contaminated. Instead, you may allow him to graze in your yard.
How to stop your dog from eating grass and vomiting
Once you have identified a behavioral problem with your dog, it is your duty to correct it. This means that you will have to find a way to make him stop eating grass. You can be able to do this through various methods including training;
Dog training is not exactly fun but it is worth it. In order to live in harmony with our dogs, we have to domesticate them. We have to engage with them in such a way that they do not do some of the things they would in the wild. Training has enabled easy domestication of many pets, not only dogs.
The best thing about training is that your dog will want to do whatever that pleases his master. This is the main advantage you will have when you are training your pup. This makes it easy to instruct him on what to do and what to refrain from.
However, it is easier said than done! Some dogs may take a longer time to learn. Others will learn quickly while others are not interested. This will require you to use different methods to get him to engage in training. Counter-conditioning is the most effective way to train your dog out of any undesirable behavior.
Counter-conditioning involves giving your dog a better option than the behavior you are looking to desensitize. For instance, whenever your dog is about to engage in grass-eating, you may offer him his favorite treat instead.
However, you will have to approach dog training based on the cause of his behavior. If you are training him out of boredom, you should consider training him to play. There are a variety of games you can engage in with your dog including hiding and seek. You can also get him toys that will keep him busy and thus prevent boredom.
To get him to stop eating grass completely, consider teaching him a few commands. For instance, you can teach him the ‘stop’ or ‘leave it’ is helpful. You can reinforce this training by offering him a treat every time he stops at your command.
2. Prevent him from eating grass
Now, most times, your dog will not stop eating grass and it can be a huge problem. This is if it makes him sick and vomits thereafter. You can keep your dog from eating grass by keeping him away from your yard.
Once again, you will have to look at the reason why your dog is eating grass. In most cases, he will eat it simply because he can see it. You can restrict him from going to the yard and also making sure that he does not eat grass in the park.
3. Provide safe grass
Your dog could contract internal parasites from eating dirty grass. It is important to make sure that he does not graze on treated grass. This is because pesticides and herbicides could lead to serious health issues with your dog.
You should also be careful of toxic weeds that might be in the grass. In the case where your dog has become a chronic grass eater, you may consider getting him his grass. You can prepare a part of the yard for him to graze and meet whatever needs he has.
4. Ignore him
This is an effective strategy to get him to stop eating grass, especially if he is an attention seeker. Some dogs will eat grass to attract your attention. Unfortunately, the more you tell him to stop or look at him, the more he feels encouraged. Eventually, he might become a chronic grass eater whenever he needs attention.
5. Avoid punishment
Punishing your dog in efforts to make him stay away from eating grass is quite ineffective. He might stop eating it when you are watching but will definitely do it later. This means that he might end up consuming treated grass through escaping to do it elsewhere.
For instance, when you beat up or scold your dog for eating grass, he is going to get your negative vibe. He knows that you do not like it when he eats grass and thus he will hide it from you. He will run to your neighbor’s yard to graze every moment he gets to leave your household.
Instead, be kind to your dog without encouraging the behavior.
If your dog always vomits after grazing, you should consider seeing a vet check for some health complications. These complications might include;
Inflammatory bowel disease
This condition affects the digestion whereby your dog may not be able to complete absorption of nutrients into the blood system. This will lead to poor growth, especially in your puppies. Dogs might eat grass to make up for the fiber and roughage missing.
The condition is characterized by vomiting after grazing and diarrhea. If your dog has these symptoms, it would be safe to take him to a vet.
However, the disease is treatable after diagnosis with the vet. It is usually treated with a few adjustments to the dog’s diet and he will recover.
Now, like mentioned above, your dog may have contracted a parasitic infection from grass eating. This especially common with dogs who will graze just above anywhere. If you have a grass-eater, you should actually make sure that you have him dewormed often.
These parasitic infections might include hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms.
Since there is no other explanation as to why dogs eat grass other than his natural instincts, it is quite hard to curb the behavior completely. Unless you keep him away from the grass completely, he will end up eating the grass.
As it is important to treat your yard to keep burrowing animals away from your yard, you should keep your dog safe. Restrict him from accessing the yard whenever you spray the yard. You should also check to see that there are no toxic weeds in the grass.
It does not have to be serious if your dog is eating grass and vomiting. A lot of dogs have been reported to vomit regularly after eating grass. However, this does not mean that your dog eats grass to make himself vomit.
The above-discussed theories surrounding the reasons why dogs eat grass involves very little research. Whether dogs have the mental ability to want to treat nausea or not, it is not clear. This is why it is hard to prove that dogs are ill before eating grass to induce vomiting.
In all the studies, there were only a few dogs reported having shown signs of illness before eating grass. Also, not all dogs that showed signs of illness before eating grass that was reported to vomit afterward.
This remains a controversy around the relationship between vomiting and grass eating in dogs.
To conclude, the goal of domestication is to make sure our dogs are happy and well take care of at the end of the day.