What does it mean? Is it healthy? Should you be worried?
How much is too much?
These are only a few of the questions that often concern many dog owners.
The purpose of this post is to help you understand this behavior so you can decide whether or not you should be worried.
Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
You might feel weird for even asking this question. Your dog is not a herbivore, so why is he or she eating grass? I struggled with the same question when I first got my dog, because it was like raising a baby. Everything he did made me wonder what was happening in his head.
Even though you may be worried as a dog owner, the main thing to understand is eating grass is very common among dogs. Actually, dogs tend to eat and chew on a lot of things that do not classify as edible. It may be for playful reasons, especially among puppies. There even is a name for it: pica.
Usually, when dogs eat grass, they do it because they have stomach issues. What follows after eating a significant amount of grass is vomiting. It is actually one of the main reasons why dogs eat grass. That is perfectly normal because similar to every living being, dogs get sick too from time to time. So, if your dog is vomiting from eating grass for 1-2 times a year, there is no reason for you to worry. It is a common behavior among dogs to eat grass in attempt to clear their digestive system.
Nevertheless, there are a few specific instances why your dog’s grass-eating behaviour should have you worried, especially when grass eating and vomiting happens on a regular basis. Such symptoms indicate that there are health-related reasons why your dog is vomiting so often. At that point, it is always best to visit a veterinarian to get the correct diagnoses.
If you are still in doubt, there are several other explanations to this behavior. The following three explanations elaborate some of the most common reasons why dogs eat grass. This will allow you to have insight on whether you should let it be or take precautions.
Reason #1 – They want to find new entertaining activities.
Really though, they may just be bored! Dogs as creatures are very playful and energetic. Most of the time, especially if you are a busy owner, you cannot dedicate all your full-time attention to your pet. Therefore, they try to find alternative ways to fill up their time, and they will do it by interacting with their surroundings. This may include eating grass. You can always start to track how much exercise your dog is getting so that you can get an idea of what could be changed.
What can you do about it?
One way to solve this is to include more physical activity in your dog’s routine. This can be either through including more play time or taking them to longer walks. On average, depending on size and age, dogs should spend up to 2 hours per day on being physically active. Therefore, exercise is essential for their overall health and growth. Can’t incorporate such a long time into your day for dog walking? No worries! If you fall into the category of the busier owners, there are professional dog walkers, who will give your pet all the needed play-time. With their help, your dog will be in safe hands and in great health condition.
Reason #2 – Stomach issues.
This is the most widespread belief and probably the one that worries you most. Nevertheless, before reaching any final conclusions, keep in mind that it might not even be that serious. As it was mentioned before, it is normal for dogs to vomit 1 to 2 times a year, just like for humans! It is believed that dogs turn to grass as a self-medication technique.
However, you must understand that grass-eating does not necessarily correlate with vomiting. Actually, it is quite rare! Only around a quarter of dogs vomit from the grass they eat. This means that in the majority of the cases, grass eating does not have any effect in the dogs digestive system. So do not expect that your dog will vomit automatically after eating grass.
If eventually vomiting happens and, you notice that it happens frequently, then the dog may have a more serious disease. Two of the most common ones could be gastric reflux or inflammatory bowel disease.
Gastric Reflux is a disease that can be potentially dangerous for your pet, if not treated in time. One of the causes may be unknown (usually inedible) objects that go into a dog’s stomach. Therefore, it is essential for you to monitor what your dog eats.
If you suspect that this is what is happening, make sure to check out for symptoms like bad breath, burping, occasional vomiting or too much salivation.
Inflammatory bowel disease is another disease that causes discomfort to your dog. It is usually manifested with vomiting and diarrhea. This disease affects most organs and makes the dog’s immunity weaker. Some of the most common causes are traveling and recent vaccination but, there may be other causes as well. The symptoms you should look out for are loss of appetite, diarrhea and weight loss. If you notice that your dog is expressing similar behavior to the above-mentioned symptoms, you must consider taking action immediately.
What can you do about it?
Usually, you can notice if something is wrong with your dog before it starts eating grass. If you see that he or she is desperately trying to swallow grass and is showing signs of frustration, something could be wrong. When it comes to health issues, it is always best to consult a veterinarian. If there is some underlying issue that is bothering the dog, it is always best to take care of it with proper treatment and medication.
Reason #3: Nutritional needs
Sometimes, your dog might turn to eating grass when it is lacking nutrients, especially fiber. If your dog is not showing symptoms of a disease as mentioned above, the issue might be the food it consumes. Another reason could be the taste of grass which for some dogs may be interesting and simply tasty.
What can you do about it?
If you think you are facing this issue, consider altering his or her diet. If you feed your dog with homemade food, also consider talking to a nutritionist to make sure that you are providing him/her with enough of the right nutrients. A high fiber diet may be your solution if you notice that it weakens your dog’s tendency to eat grass.
Overall, grass-eating should not be a concern for you as an owner unless it is followed by other symptoms as well. These symptoms include irregular behavior and the urge to consume a large amount of grass.
As such, there will be no need to take precautions. However, if that is something that truly bothers you, make sure to apply the suggested tips in the “What can you do about it?” section. After all, you know your dog better than anyone else. If you sense that there is something wrong with it, there probably is. Consider whether grass-eating happens too often. Also, consider the amount. After you have determined that, you will know if your dog has shown unlikely behavior and whether you should do something about it.
If that is a regular behavior for your dog, it is most likely nothing you should worry about. You simply have to make sure that the grass he or she is consuming is not sprayed with pesticides or any other poisonous substances. If you do that, you should be fine.
About the Author:
Rilind Elezaj is a pet lover from Prishtina, Kosovo. He has a passion for sharing things that can help people and animals live better lives.
Many dogs eat grass. Why do they do this? Is it a problem? Find out here.