Why do dogs eat grass?
Has grass eating become your dog's daily habit? Grass eating is quite a common behaviour in dogs and studies show that approximately 79% of dogs have dabbled in this green cuisine. But why is your dog munching on grass and should you intervene?
Before you try to stamp out your pup's masticating behaviour, let's try to understand why they are opting to "go green". There is no universal answer for why dogs eat grass, it's like asking why people listen to music. One day you might listen to Adele to mend your broken heart, the next day Calvin Harris might be your muse to get pumped for a cross-fit class.
The most commonly assumed stance is that dogs eat grass when they feel ill to self-induce vomiting. There is even debate as to whether dogs vomit as a result of chowing down on grass, or whether they were going to vomit anyway and are just trying to curb nausea by filling their stomach with grass (much like people chewing on crackers when they feel queasy). However a study performed back in 2008 found that at most, only 22% of dogs actually regularly vomited after consumption.
So what's the deal with the other 78%?
One possibility relates to nutrition and what your dog is eating. Dogs are omnivorous creatures who require a mix of meat and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet. Added fibre can help with digestion and waste elimination, and some believe that if dogs are not getting enough fibre in their diet, they may take to grass munching instead. This is supported by a trial conducted back in 2007 with a grass-addicted Poodle that was ingesting plant materials daily. When swapped to a higher fibre food, the grass consumption ceased.
If you're already feeding top notch nutrition with high fibre, the cause of this habit may be related to something as simple as boredom. Grass eating was found to most commonly occur in puppies as opposed to adult or senior dogs. Putting some extra time aside to play with your pooch may help to relieve the frequency of this behaviour. Alternatively providing more stimulating toys like the interactive Kong Wobbler or a JW Pet Rope Treat Toy can help. These toys can be filled with tasty treats to entice and challenge your pooch.
Last but not least, excessive grass consumption could be an obsessive compulsive behaviour stemming from anxiety or stress. Monitor your dog to see if they are experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety can manifest as:
- Excessive licking and chewing their paws
- Licking their lips
- Social withdrawal
- Out of character misbehaviour (potty accidents, barking and biting)
You will need to identify the source of anxiety and work from there. Sources of anxiety could iniclude moving house, introducing a new family member (human or otherwise) or even losing a family member or pet. You can use an Adaptil collar or diffuser to help promote feelings of calm in your dog if they are experiencing anxiety or stress.
Above all, if you are worried about your dog's health, always consult your vet. Aside from the reasons listed above, excessive grass feasting could be an indicator of an underlying health issue. At the end of the day, eating a little bit of grass is often not harmful to your pet and a nibble here or there is a relatively normal behaviour. If it's becoming an excessive habit, try enriching their environment with interactive toys and make sure you are feeding a premium quality pet food.
Owner of a small Chihuahua army and lover of all things pets; when Jess isn't managing her pup Nacho's instagram you can find her writing about all the awesome new products on the Pet Circle website!
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