Dogs engage in various behaviors among them eating grass for different reasons. However, eating grass is not uncommon in dogs. Most dogs will eat grass at some point in their lives. What risk does eating grass pose to the dog? Should you get rid of a dog that eats grass all the time? Read on to discover the reasons why your dog is eating grass as well as what you should do about it.
Why do dogs eat grass?
As I mentioned, eating grass is a rather common practice amongst dogs. There is no specific reason as to why dogs engage in this behavior. However, I have a few reasons which could explain grass eating. I tend to relate it to pica-which is the term used to describe the behavior of eating non-food items.
Does it mean that your dog is sick when he eats grass? Well, I cannot say so for sure. Below are some of the reasons why dogs eat grass;
While we have domesticated dogs for years, they have never really grasped a way to deal with boredom. Sadly, our houses or homesteads do not provide enough space to roam around, as he would in the wild. As a result, they are quite prone to boredom.
Bored puppies are likely to eat grass. Sadly, puppies are also prone to boredom. I mean, spend two hours without checking on him and he might just sneak out to engage in weird behaviors.
Unfortunately, we cannot spend each moment besides our dog. Therefore, you need to put measures to ensure that your puppy does not get bored too often. If your pup has suddenly started eating grass, you need to look into it further.
While there is no solid evidence to support that dogs eat grass to make up for missing nutrients, some dog owners tend to think otherwise. Dogs require different types of foods for them to perfectly healthy. However, most of the times we go for commercial dog foods. Note that the commercial dog foods are perfectly healthy but they may lack some nutrients.
It could be that your dog craves fiber in his diet. Unfortunately, kibble foods do not contain fiber. As a result, your dog might find a new delicacy in the grass.
Did you know that even wild dogs engage in grass eating? Well, it is natural for your canine friend to eat grass. You may not notice it at first but once your pup realizes that there is more to life than just eating commercial foods.
Therefore, do not be troubled as it could be a natural habit, passed on to them by their ancestors. The only problem associated with grass eating is the risk of contracting parasites. We will discuss these risks in detail in the next section of this article.
Seeking your attention
Well, sometimes your puppy wants your reaction and hence the strange behaviors. Now, before you bring a dog home, you must realize that they need a lot of attention. This is especially if you live alone as he is bound to feel lonely when you are gone.
The good news is that you can be able to curb attention-seeking behavior by spending time with your dog. Provide as much attention and psychological stimulation as you can for your dog.
If you are dealing with a puppy, then this should be an everyday activity. Puppies might appear small but they have a lot of energy. Pent up energy leads to a disturbed pet. He is probably looking for ways to burn the extra energy.
To improve digestion
Other dog owners claim that grass improves digestion. However, this claim is surrounded by uncertainties since dogs may lack the understanding of self-cure. Also, there is little evidence to support that dogs eat grass when they have a stomach upset.
Well, does grass improve your pup’s digestion or does it help induce vomiting? Observe your dog and determine the factors that may contribute to his grass-eating behavior. Do you think he does it to induce vomiting after developing an upset stomach?
Your puppy is exploring or teething
Puppies are always looking for things to do as they explore the world. Eating grass is a part of the exploration. He is probably wondering how grass tastes like.
On the other hand, it is not uncommon for puppies to eat grass when teething. He is probably looking for ways to itch his gums. This behavior should go away as soon as he gets through teething.
Provide chew toys to help with the itching.
Will, my dog get sick from eating grass?
When I adopted our dog, Ariel, this was my biggest worry. I mean, I had observed other dogs eating grass but I never cared to look into it much. However, since getting Ariel, you can see how this became my concern.
Well, the truth is, grass-eating is a normal habit in dogs. Most dog owners will observe their dogs eat grass at some point. However, it is also a risky affair.
While grass is harmless to your dog if it has come into contact with pesticides and commercial fertilizers, it could present a health hazard to your dog. Therefore, you must be careful about the grass your dog is likely to graze on.
Unfortunately, untreated grass is the best for your dog but it also presents a risk: parasites! In most cases, parasites will breed in the grass.
Eating grass will expose your dog to both internal and external parasites if you are not keen enough. Therefore, if you have a grazer, I suggest you get him safe grass to eat. Keep him away from your yard, especially if you have recently sprayed pesticides on it.
Otherwise, eating grass does not pose any serious threats to your dog. Many are the times I have watched Ariel feeding on clean grass for his pure joy.
So, now that your dog eats grass all the time and does not seem to stop, should you get rid of him? My answer to this question is no! Do not get rid of your canine friend simply he is eating grass. I mean, it could be just natural.
What should I do to stop my dog from eating grass?
I understand how annoying it can get when your dog won’t stop engaging in certain behaviors. To stop a dog from eating grass, you must first understand why he is doing so. I have already outlined the common causes of eating grass in dogs above. Well, let’s move on to see how we can stop a dog that eats grass all the time;
Play and exercise your dog often
Earlier, I explained that sometimes your dog will eat grass because he is bored. Unfortunately, boredom is among the most common behavioral vices in dogs. This is because they do not live in their natural habitat where they would enjoy free movement and exploration.
When we leave our dogs alone at home, there are so many chances that they get bored. Well, that is, if they do not have anything to do with their time. Most dog owners tend to forget this fact.
When a dog is bored, believe me when I say that he is going to find something better to do. To ensure that your pup does not eat grass to keep himself occupied, try and establish a play and exercise schedule.
Feed your dog well
Has your dog suddenly started grazing? It could be that he is feeling a little underfed. Watch his eating habits and realize that he needs more food as he grows bigger.
Most dog owners tend to forget adding the amount of food for their puppies with time. I mean, you cannot feed your 1-year-old puppy the same amount of food you gave him when he was half that age.
Talk to your vet who will recommend the best amount of food to offer your dog if you feel like you need to increase it.
Use a sprinkler to discourage grass-eating
Have you noticed your dog going to eat grass in the backyard? Well, as I have mentioned above, there is no harm in eating grass. However, we cannot let our dogs eat on any grass they find. It is therefore important to teach him that eating grass is not acceptable.
Furthermore, if you have recently sprayed pesticides in your yard, then it would be harmful to him to eat the grass. Install a sprinkler in your yard, preferably with motion-sensor. Well, dogs dislike getting wet and so he will not go to the yard.
Restrict him from accessing the yard if you have used any pesticides. Close the dog flap completely for a week or two to make sure that your dog does not access the yard or lawn.
Provide an option
Some dogs will not stop eating grass no matter what you do. You should not get rid of your dog that eats grass all the time. Instead, I suggest you provide an option to satisfy his grazing needs. This is especially if your dog won’t leave the grass alone.
I suggest you get clean and natural grass for him. Ensure that the grass does not contain any additives and pesticides. You can even grow his grass in a container to make sure that it is not harmful to his health.
Avoid punishing your dog
I have said it before and I am going to say it again; dogs do not care about punishment. He might realize that you are upset but then he cannot comprehend what that means.
Punishment includes yelling, hitting and even mistreating your dog. If he wants to eat grass, there are other measures that you can take to make him stop.
Instead of yelling and getting mad about it, adopt a healthier way of dealing with this. We are going to look at how you can train your dog to stop craving grass eating.
Improve your dog’s diet
As I indicated earlier, you must feed your dog well. I do not just mean giving him enough food but you might want to look at his diet. How balanced is your dog’s diet?
I also mentioned that some dogs eat grass as a result of nutritional deficiency. Therefore, try and make up for the missing fiber in his diet. talk to your vet if at all you are adding anything to your pup’s diet.
Train your dog to stop eating grass
While eating grass remains harmless, not every dog owner is going to be comfortable with this. This is because even if he only feeds on the grass that you provide, it does not mean that he will not chew and consume grass in other places.
For instance, I struggled with Ariel before I figured out how to stop him from eating grass. I did grow grass for him but then again, I could not keep him from eating grass elsewhere.
I had to learn ways in which I could train him to stop. Well, I love that does are receptive which makes them extremely trainable. Now, I would advise you to start with training him a few commands.
For instance, the stop command. It works well especially if you are looking to stop your dog from eating grass during walks. Call his name and tell him to stop once you notice him heading to the fields to graze.
For effective dog training, I suggest you put him on a leash at all times.
Once you instruct him to stop, do not pull the leash. Instead, watch how he responds and if he comes towards you, always reward him.
You will need to do this a couple of times before your dog gets it. Use his favorite treats to reinforce training.
The key to successful dog training is consistency. Remain consistent all through the training. Do not get annoyed even when he won’t stop eating grass.
If you are looking to get rid of a dog that eats grass all the time, understand that there are things that you can do to stop this habit. Pay attention to your dog and figure out why he is doing so.
Watching your dog eat grass for the first time can be straight-up strange. I mean, no one told you that dogs could be omnivorous but they can. Some dogs actually love the taste of grass and hence develop a habit.
I do not recommend that you get rid of a dog who eats grass all the time. I suggest you train him out of the habit or get him an option to graze in a safer way as outlined above.