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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

        
          

When you let your dog into the yard does he or she immediately munch on the greenery?  Almost 80% of dog owners report that their pets behave more like herbivores than carnivores from time to time.  Why do dogs eat grass, and is it dangerous for their digestive systems?

Boredom
One reason that dogs eat grass is out of boredom.  Dogs will do the darnedest things when left to their own devices, and digging for worms (while eating the excess dirt and grass) is one of them.  Limit the amount of time your dog spends in the yard by his or herself, and invest in a few interactive toys.

Nutrient Deficiency
Another theory for grass eating is that your dog may be experiencing a nutrient deficiency, such as fiber.  Make sure your dog’s food is a high-quality brand with adequate protein, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber sources.  If your dog seeks out other non-food items such as feces or dirt, consult your veterinarian about your dog’s diet.

Attention Seeking
Your pet may also eat grass as a way to garner your attention.  Even if you discipline your pet every time he or she samples the greens, your dog may decide that negative attention is better than no attention at all.  If you believe your pet may be acting out for this reason, spend some extra time throughout the day playing together.  When your dog does eat grass, ignore the behavior and bring your dog inside.

Upset Stomach
If dogs eat too much grass, they will inevitably vomit.  Some veterinarians believe that when dogs have an upset stomach they naturally eat grass as a way to relieve their discomfort.  If your dog frequently eats grass until he or she throws up, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to rule out underlying causes.

Evolution
Grass-eating has been observed in both wild dogs and wolves.  Evolutionary biologists theorize that the additional roughage in grass keeps the intestinal tract free from parasites.  Even though modern canines no longer need to guard against parasites in this way, thanks to preventatives and dewormers, the natural urge to eat grass has remained.

Gastric Reflux/IBS
Finally, grass eating has been linked to gastric reflux and irritable bowel syndrome in some dogs.  If grass gorging and vomiting occurs in conjunction with symptoms such as gulping, licking the air, and general restlessness after meals, consult your veterinarian.  Use of a slow-bowl and canine antacid can remedy the problem.

Is Eating Grass Safe?
Even though grass consumption is fairly normal, is this behavior safe?  For the most part, the answer is yes.  However, dogs should never eat greenery in areas that have been recently fertilized or sprayed with pesticide.  Additionally, not all plants are safe for your dog to consume.  Plants such as jade, lilies, aloe, azaleas, daffodils, and tulips (among others) are all toxic.  If you believe your dog has consumed a toxic plant from your garden, consult a veterinarian immediately.  Ultimately, nibbling on grass is a safe habit, so long as your dog avoids poisonous materials.

 

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Anna Weber

Anna Weber

As a life-long dog owner and animal lover I have dedicated my adult life to rescuing and fostering dogs, particularly seniors and behaviorally at-risk animals.I believe that nearly every animal can be rehabilitated with love, kindness, training, and proper exercise.
Anna Weber

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