Is it natural for dogs to eat grass even if they vomit?
Although dogs were portrayed as distinctively carnivorous in ancient times, there are a couple of arguments that go against this claim today. Researchers study the behavior of large wild canines – wolves – who dogs evolved from to get some answers. It turns out that wolves often enjoy eating plants such as red berries, grains and seeds. Not only do they consume plants directly from the tree or bush, but also hunt herbivores and eat the whole prey. Another argument that grass munching is a part of dog’s genetic makeup is the length of their intestinal tract. True carnivores, such as cats, require only a short intestine to digest food. It’s different with omnivores, such as dogs and humans, who need more centimeters inside their system so that both animal and plant-based food is digestible.
Physical reasons why dogs keep eating grass – is my dog sick?
Dogs are omnivores and as such base their health on animal protein and fiber. Grass is usually a widely accessible source of roughage. Dogs may use it to improve digestion fast. Your lawn may become your dog’s gastrointestinal tract best friend in helping things to flow smoothly. However, if you notice that your pet shows any signs of pain or distress, you better head out to the closest veterinary clinic. Dogs can suffer from a number of gut-related conditions, such as:
- gastric reflux;
- inflammatory bowel disease.
Lowered energy and appetite, diarrhea or constipation may be the signs that something is wrong with your animal companion, and grass eating is only a way to self-soothe.
Supplementing a missing nutrient
Some experts claim that the reason why dogs may eat grass is pica – an eating disorder in which a person or an animal consumes things that are not usually considered as edible. It’s not entirely clear why some dogs obsessively do that. It may seem like a good source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, even though you feed them a well-balanced diet.
Typical dog behavior
According to one research (Bjone et al., 2007), grass and plant eating is a normal dog behavior because it increases before a meal and decreases after it. Grazing greenery doesn’t have to be a manifestation of an illness, then. Make sure to always consult a vet if you are worried about your dog’s wellbeing. Grass may or may not be your enemy.
Psychological reasons why dogs eat grass and like it
Have you ever grabbed a pack of chips only because it was in your cupboard and the day seemed to drag for hours? Maybe you had an important interview planned the day after, and you began a much-hidden session of stress eating. Just like people, animals eat out of boredom or anxiety. And grass is something excessively available for them. If your doggy doesn’t seem to be sick, this reason may be that this behavior makes it feel better. Sometimes grass eating may be obsessive and constant. In that case, your dog might deal with behavioral issues. You may consider visiting the veterinarian or a behaviorist, who will advise you on how to reduce unwanted dog behavior.
Puppies explore the world through senses. Two of them – smell and taste – are the most significant. If you notice a young dog hanging around your freshly mowed, wonderfully green lawn, frantically chewing on grass, don’t worry. He may just be curious. He might also appreciate the crunch and will take a liking to grass later in life.
Attention from dog’s parents
Animals thrive on attention. If you suddenly talk to your dog or pick it up the moment it starts eating grass, why not repeat this behavior if it leads to your taking interest? Ignorance is strength, as Orwell said. Dog owners love their pets very much, and trying to praise desired behavior while ignoring the unwanted one may be a way out.
Can grass upset my dog’s stomach?
If your dog is regularly dewormed, grass is considered to be a safe snack. However, it only applies to territories which are not highly polluted or used for farming. The grass covered with pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers may hurt your dog’s digestive system.
Pesticides are as prevalent as grass. They are used by humans to fight various pests including bugs, rodents and bacteria. Unfortunately, chemical plant protection is extremely dangerous to your dog. Pesticides poisoning is a precarious condition that can even result in death in extreme cases. Other symptoms include, among others:
- excessive drinking;
- skin rashes.
Grass can be contaminated with fecal material from other dogs. It may contain bacteria and viruses, that lead to such diseases as parvovirus. It can also be home to parasites that are especially dangerous for puppies whose immune system is still weak.
How can you keep a dog from eating grass?
If your dog constantly eats grass because it’s bored, try organizing everyday exciting walks for it. If you keep your animal entertained, it won’t feel the need to graze plants. Buying a brand-new toy is another great idea. As for dogs with separation anxiety, you may leave a piece of clothing when you are away. Your scent would make your dog feel comforted. As a result, it may stop obsessing over grass. Clicker training can help with that problem too. Additionally, you can kill two birds with one stone – you train your dog out of an unwanted behavior, and you bond with it along the way. Challenges like that can also be a great source of entertainment for certain breeds – for example, labrador retrievers or border collies. Most dogs will bark with joy if you spend time with them!