How important is it to stop your dog eating grass?
A dog eating grass is one of those annoying habits that your dog may suddenly start doing.
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As shocking as it might be to you, a dog eating grass is quite a common behavior in normal canine friends. You might think that this is a problem with outdoor dogs but actually most dogs will eat grass or nibble on house plans at some point in their lives. Understanding why your dog eats grass is important for you as the owner in order to determine how to make it stop.
Your dog may eat grass due to various reasons, some of which that have faced scientific controversies. Some studies show that dogs eating grass may be associated with illnesses as well as dietary deficiency while others reject this hypothesis. What are the contributing reasons as to your dog eating grass?
6 reasons why your dog is eating grass
He likes it.
This is one of the best explanations for why your dog is eating grass. Your dog probably loves how the grass in your backyard tastes and he wants even more.
We have domesticated dogs and most often forget that they still have their natural instincts as scavengers.
According to Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, dogs eat grass because they love how it tastes. Andrea Rediger dismissed the theory that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting or to make up for dietary supplements suggesting;
“Maybe dogs just like to eat grass. Maybe it tastes good or has a pleasing texture. Perhaps it’s a compulsive behavior or something we condition with unintentional reinforcement. Who can say for sure why dogs choose to eat what they do? What makes a rotting carcass and the new sofa such delectable treats?”
If you see your dog eating grass in the backyard, maybe he loves how it tastes and it shouldn’t worry you. However, it is important to make sure that your dog does not get poisoned from eating treated grass.
Dogs can develop any kind of behavior, especially when exposed to boredom or loneliness. In fact, some dogs are crazy about their owner’s attention to a point they will do anything to get a reaction from them. Among other undesirable behaviors, your dog may adapt to eating grass as one of the ways to get your attention.
Dogs crave attention and the feeling of belonging to a family, a pack for that matter. Naturally, they would be in the wild doing scavenging for food. The same way we crave attention, so do our dogs and because of domestication, they believe that we are their park.
This means when you are out doing your usual human routines, your dog is waiting for you at home, without much to do.
This will lead to your dog getting bored while you are away, and even worse if you do not walk him or exercise him.
When left unsupervised, your pup might develop the habit of ingesting grass to pass time. You will notice his new love for the yard as well as his behavior soon enough.
There have been various controversies around this theory, with scientists arguing that the dog does not have the ability to think of treating an illness. Theories have it that some dogs eat grass to induce vomiting if they have a stomach upset.
But how true is this?
Most dogs actually do not vomit after grazing, which is evidence as to why your dog is not capable of self-medicating itself. In fact, in most cases, your dog will eat grass without having an illness beforehand, proving that our dog may be eating grass simply because he wants to, or from any other behavioral causes.
However, according to one study, the way your dog eats the grass will determine whether he will vomit later. The study suggests that dogs that eat grass slowly are less like to vomit compared to those who do it faster.
The theory goes ahead to explain that if a dog is eating grass to vomit, there is a likelihood that he will not engage in the behavior repeatedly.
Exploration in puppies
Exploration is common in new and younger dogs as they will want to know how everything in your home works. For instance, you may let your puppy out in the yard and he may get excited about the grass and its taste.
However, your dog will stop this habit as it grows older.
Grass provides roughage that is necessary for your dog’s digestion system, as well as fiber. Your dog’s commercial food may not contain these nutrients and thus the need for eating grass. However, this has also been a controversy with scientists shedding light to this assumption.
In various studies, dogs eating grass is not associated with any dietary deficiency, rather more of your dog’s nature among other causes. This was as a result of lack of evidence pointing to this theory.
How to stop your dog from eating grass
Like correcting any behavioral problem in dogs, you must always determine the grass-root of the problem. If you notice your dog eating grass, you should monitor him in order to determine the leading causes.
However, dog eating grass can barely be linked to behavioral vice in dogs, given that they do it because of their nature; scavenger. However, due to the domestication of dogs, we have been able to identify the causes of behaviors and the contributing factors.
Exercise your dog
It cannot be emphasized enough, the need to exercise your dog, both physically and mentally. Before leaving your pup in the backyard, it is important to make sure that he has been exercised enough. You can buy toys for him to play with when you are away. Playing with him and involving him in interactive games is a great way to curb boredom.
Switch to a better food
Even though there has been controversy in whether dietary deficiency can result in dogs eating grass, giving your dog food with roughage can help curb the behavior. It is important to determine the amount of food appropriate for your dog. This way you will keep him well fed and on a balanced diet.
Some of the names you will see in high fiber dog food include pectin, corns, and bran. You may also include vegetables in your dog’s diet.
Protect your dog from harm
Dogs will start eating grass from the comfort of your yard, your neighbor’s lawn or on walks. It is important to protect your dog from consuming treated grass. Most people will want to keep their yards clean and keep pests and burrowing animals away. If your dog eats grass that has been treated with chemicals, he might suffer from stomach illness due to poisoning.
It can be a little hard to control a grass-eater but keeping them away from contaminated grass is an important step to keeping him safe. Public parks are the one place you should not let your dog eat grass since it is always treated.
Training is the most effective ways to curb behavioral problems in dogs. This involves counter-conditioning, where you offer a treat every time he is about to start eating grass. His attention will be shifted to you and you can teach him to stop.
Teaching certain commands to your dog is also important in controlling this behavior. Your dog will learn these commands within a few weeks and you will be able to tell him what he can do or not. However, this will require patience and consistency in order for your dog to grab these lessons.
Training puppies and new dogs is not always an easy task, but you can do it! These tips will assist you in training your dog;
Consistency; to be able to train your dog successfully, you will have to be patient with your puppy. He is going to eventually learn but whenever he gets it right, praise him and offer him a treat.
This way, he will always be enthusiastic to obey his master and also adapt to the things that make you happy, and those that annoy you.
Motivation; you can motivate your puppy before starting the training through plating with him. Stimulating him both physically and mentally will prepare him for learning!
Make him earn it; your dog definitely looks forward to some treats at the end of the day, but don’t offer anything for free. Make him learn what you want him to until he gets it all right and then you can treat him.
Doing what you want should not involve any punishments.
Be resilient; your pup is probably going to take some time before he starts to learn anything. It is important to keep in mind that your dog does not understand you verbally. Instead, they tend to relate to us through our body language and energy. Be easy on him and he will eventually learn.
Always start with simple commands; training your dog is easy when you start with the basics; go, stop, sit, and so on. However, guiding your pup to carry out more difficult tasks is a different matter.
If your dog is eating grass to attract your attention, giving it to him will only encourage the behavior. He will use this habit to manipulate you to play with him or even develop other undesirable characters. If you have monitored your dog and determined that he is barking at you for attention, you will need to curb it before it becomes a permanent habit.
Consequences of your dog eating grass
In a real sense, grass eating in dogs is not harmful to your dog’s health. This, however, does not mean that it is okay to let him wandering and eating grass everywhere. You should keep an eye on your dog to monitor the behavior since it could also be a sign on underlying medical conditions.
In some cases, your dog may eat grass sprayed with pesticides which may make him sick. You should keep him off your lawn if you have it treated.
Some of the medical conditions that may be associated with your dog eating grass include;
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is common in dogs which causes inflammatory cells to settle in the dog’s stomach and in some cases intestines. This leads to poor digestion and absorption of food in his body. Due to this disease, your dog will experience poor health until you modify his diet.
Sadly, there is no said cause of this disease, but the good news is that the disease will go away. Several factors, however, could contribute to the development of this disease including breed, genetics, allergies, bacteria or autoimmune disorders.
Some of the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease include chronic diarrhea, vomiting after eating grass, general boredom and body weakness. He may also lose his appetite and if left untreated, it may also lead to loss of weight.
To treat this disease, consider taking your dog to the vet and have him diagnosed. The vet will advise you on the right diet to help your dog fight the disease.
This is some scary stuff right here, right? You don’t need to worry about that just because you have seen your dog eating grass recently. This is because it will have to be accompanied by other symptoms like excessive thirst and frequent urination.
Diabetes, however, can become a life-threatening disease if left untreated for a long period of time. Dogs that have suffered from Exocrine Pancreatic insufficiency are in the risk of getting diabetes. Sometimes diabetes in dogs may get complicated and require you to seek help from the vet.
If your dog does not stop eating grass over a long period of time, it could also be of help if you got him his grazing place. As mentioned earlier, dogs are scavengers in nature, and some dogs do not stop even after domestication.
By getting a place for him to graze, you will be taking care of your dog in that he will not eat or lick pesticides from grazing. Your dog eating grass has a lot to do with boredom and other behavioral vices in dogs than medical complications. However, you should always monitor your dog so that you can determine the reason behind the habit of eating grass.
There have been so many controversial theories as to why dogs eat grass, with most studies suggesting natural instincts as well as behavioral problems in dogs. However, keeping your dog happy and healthy should eliminate this problem. If your dog is a natural grass-eater, all you have to do is make sure he does not feed on harmful grass. It is also essential to exercise your dog as well as spend time with him.