If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably been puzzled more than once about the things your canine friend chooses to consume. One of the most peculiar “food” choices dogs make is eating grass. Despite grass consumption being such a common practice for dogs, science does not have a definitive explanation for why it happens. Possible reasons for why dogs eat grass include:
- They are unwell and are eating grass to make themselves throw up and feel better
- Improves their digestion
- Helps treat intestinal worms
- Fulfills the nutritional need for fiber
- Boredom or separation anxiety
They have an upset stomach
The most common theory for grass eating is that dogs are trying to calm an upset stomach. This assumption is due to many dog owners noticing that their dog begins to crave and aggressively consume grass only to vomit it up later. Still, this theory doesn’t seem to sync up with research that shows that most dogs don’t exhibit signs of illness before eating grass, and only 25% vomit after consumption.
Most researchers agree that an occasional grass feast may be normal and nothing to worry about. However, if your dog continuously eats grass, there may be an underlying health issue. Check with your vet to make sure your pooch is not suffering from gastrointestinal disease or other problems.
Dogs are naturally omnivores
It’s also important to realize that plants are likely a natural part of a dog’s diet. Observations of wild canines show that many include both meat and plants in their diet. So, your pup may harbor some deep-rooted instincts, like seeking out grass and plants as a food source. They may also just simply like the way it tastes or feels.
They’re bored, lonely, or anxious
Domesticated dogs are often left with a lot of time on their hands and, if left outside, they might fill those idle minutes with grazing on grass—much like when we’re bored and find ourselves in front of the fridge several times over. You might be able to cut back on the grass consumption by substituting fun activities for your dog or giving them stimulating toys to play with.
On the other hand, your dog might be lonely or anxious. Dogs are natural pack animals and crave constant attention. When they are left on their own, they may feel nervous or anxious and chew on grass to relieve the tension (much like biting your nails or tapping your foot).
If you’ve been gone more than usual or notice other signs of separation anxiety, you may be able to use training or dog care to cut the new grass habit.
They have “Pica”
If your dog is obsessively eating grass, and it isn’t related to dietary needs or underlying illnesses, they may have Pica, a medical condition that causes canines to crave and eat non-food items, such as grass, clothes, paper, garbage, dirt, and feces.
Of course, many dogs are known to ingest a thing or two they probably shouldn’t, but if it is a regular habit, you should ask your vet if it could be Pica. Constant consumption of non-food items could lead to digestive and nutritional issues.
Should you take your dog to the vet?
Overall, eating grass can just be normal, harmless behavior, or it could be an indication that something bigger is at play. If your dog’s grass consumption seems excessive or is a deviation from their usual behaviors, you should consult with your veterinarian.
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