Have you ever witnessed your dog eat grass like they are cows? Quite a silly sight, isn’t it? Why do dogs eat grass?
This occurrence is more usual than you think and most pet parents panic because although their dog is being fed with nourishing food filled with the essential nutrients they need to become healthy, they still eat grass.
If your dog regularly eats grass, don’t panic! You are not the only pet parent who has this question. A survey found out that 79% out of 49 correspondent dog parents had eaten grass regularly.
It is so common that veterinarians made a specific term for when dogs eat non-food: a pica. It is a medical condition that gives dogs a craving and satisfaction in eating things that are not classified as food, such as paper, diapers, fabrics, and the most common, grass growing in your yard.
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Reasons Why Your Dog Eats Grass
There are four major reasons why dogs graze on grass, and it can be surprising. Here are the causes of why dogs eat grass.
1. Dogs Find Grass Tasty
Dogs in the wild are born as scavenging omnivores, which means they are animals that eat both meat and plants. As scavengers, it’s already in their brain to search for maximum nutrition anywhere available. This instinct never left from domesticated dogs, as a result, they are still wired to feed on grass.
Veterinarians believe that dogs find the flavor and texture of grass somehow delicious and could be providing them the nutrients they need whereas their regular food is not providing, such as fiber.
2. Dogs Could Be Bored
A dog focuses on your daily activities, seeing you leave home and excitedly waiting for your return. Even though most dogs love being outside, they still get bored being alone and need to do something else to pass the time and grazing grass is one of these activities.
Dogs see grass as chew toys which they find entertaining. Dogs craving for human interaction may try to get your attention by inappropriate actions such as eating grass if they are feeling neglected.
Additionally, anxious dogs feed on the grass to make them feel more comfortable, comparable to humans when some chew on fingernails when feeling nervous.
To prevent them from eating more grass, you can provide them with a chew toy as an alternative, or you can give them more walks or playtime.
3. Stomach Distress
Veterinarians agree that eating grass is a dog’s way to self-medicate. Whenever your dog suffers from a stomach ache, they eat grass to experience a sense of relief. This is more notable if the behavior starts unexpectedly or if your dog is feeling anxious about wanting to eat grass.
However, veterinarians also think that feeding on grass has some benefits to a dog’s diet. The grass is a good source of fiber that can improve and ease in digesting food and a more relaxed passing of stool. This benefit can help their bodily functions to process more effectively.
4. It’s In Their Instinct
Your dog’s ancestors in the wild have balanced their diets by eating anything that they can hunt such as meat, bones, and animals. However, consuming only protein is not enough to sustain them with the daily nutrition they need; thus, they need to eat fruits and vegetables, including grass.
Modern dogs do not need to hunt for food since we, pet parents, already provide them with it. But deep down in their innate behavior and brain, they still need to scavenge pica. Our pets love the dog food we give them, but they still eat grass as a way to reconnect with their instinct.
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Grass?
A majority of veterinarians consider feeding on grass as normal dog behavior. Even though dogs do not get enough nutrients from grass, eating them will not give dogs drastic health issues.
Although, we still have to be mindful to be more observant and we are aware of the kind of grass your dog is grazing on. Do not let your dog graze on anything that has been treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Always check your garden products to ensure that they are safe for your pets.
When Should You Take Action?
It goes without saying that excess is always not a good thing, and that also goes with grass-eating on dogs. If you notice them eating grass more frequently or excessively, be alert of potential underlying illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, decrease in appetite, blood in the stool, lethargy, or lip licking.
While eating grass is a common behavioral action in many dogs, there are still ways to train your dog out of the behavior to help provide peace of mind.
How To Stop Your Dog From Consuming Grass
If it still bothers you that your dog is feeding on grass, you can use this guideline to steer them away from this behavior.
- As mentioned earlier, your dog may be grazing on grass due to nutritional deficiency that is causing their upset stomach, so the root cause could be their nutritional diet.
Make some adjustments to your dog’s food intake and eating habits. Reach out to their veterinarian for the advisable changes that can be made.
- Feed your dog with steamed vegetables. Increase your dog’s fiber intake by giving them steamed vegetables as an alternative to grass. Not only are these healthier, but these veggies are tastier as well. Such vegetables you can feed to your dog are:
- Green beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Some plants can be toxic to your dog if consumed. If you have indoor houseplants and your dog keeps on nibbling on them, it is best to keep it away from their reach. This way, they know that plants are off-limits.
- Some plants release scents that repel dogs. Planting these in your yard can help in deterring your dog from sniffing around your lawn too much that can lead to grass-eating. The following plants are an all-natural way to repel dogs:
- Coleus Canina
- Marigold or calendula
- Citrus trees
- Evergreen huckleberry
- Succulents such as aloe
- For dogs who feed on grass due to boredom, provide them with a chew toy that they can nibble on instead of grass. It is also recommended to keep them active by playing with them most of the time to prevent them from being idle.
- You can teach your dog to steer clear from eating grass by giving them treats. Whenever they attempt to nibble on the grass, try to distract him by leading him towards a new direction and offer a treat when your furbaby follows you.
- Use an all-natural repellant you can find in your pantry that can help in deterring your dogs from going near and eating on the grass. You can put some cayenne pepper and black pepper on the lawn to prevent your dogs from approaching it.
Keeping your dog safe and sound from any reasons that can harm them is our priority as a pet parent. Even though your dog is just inside the vicinity of your home, there are still ways for them to get into unwanted incidents, such as excessive grass-eating.
Now that you have discovered the whys and the hows of dogs feeding on grass, take note of our guidelines to lessen this behavior and have a healthy and happy dog.