7 reasons why dogs eat grass – Forbes Canada
“It may mean your dog has a digestive disorder or it may mean nothing at all,” he says. He adds that dogs will instinctively eat grass if they are lacking certain nutrients in their diet.
1. They have an upset stomach
Dogs will turn to grass when they have an upset stomach or inflammation, says Dr. Candy Akers, a holistic veterinarian and owner of Journeys Holistic Life, a one-stop online pet care store.
“In some dogs, it’s instinctive to eat grass to induce vomiting,” Akers says.
A 2008 study in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science found that “eating plants is a natural behavior for domestic dogs.”
The researchers also concluded that since plant eating has also been observed in wolves and other wild dogs, “it seems likely that it serves some biological purpose.”
2. Eat more fiber
Dogs will also instinctively consume grass, a source of fiber, if their current diet is low in fiber, Gula says.
According to VCA Canada Animal Hospitals (VCA), dogs need fiber in their diet to help them digest food properly and pass stool regularly. The grass, which is an abundant source of fiber, can be eaten to help regulate body functions.
Gola adds that too much grass can cause constipation.
3. They have nutritional deficiencies
If your dog is not fed a proper, balanced and appropriate diet, he may eat grass as a counterweight to malnutrition.
“Dogs that are missing something in their diet will try to fill the void by consuming grass,” says Gola.
If you suspect a nutritional deficiency, it is best to take your dog to the vet and have him tested to see where there may be a deficiency in his diet.
4. They are worried
Some dogs with anxiety may turn to eating grass as a coping mechanism or as a self-soothing activity, Akers says.
A 2020 medical study conducted in Finland found that nearly three-quarters of the approximately 14,000 dogs evaluated suffered from some type of problematic behavior, with the most common anxiety trait being sensitivity to noise.
According to the VCA, the most common signs of stress and anxiety in dogs include:
- Speed or vibration
- Whining or barking
- Yawning, drooling and licking
- Dilated pupils, rapid blinking, and increased sclera (white part of the eye)
- Ears hanging back
- Posture changes, such as tail bending
- Changes in body functions, such as increased or irregular urination, food refusal, and loss of bowel function
- Avoidance or displacement behaviors
- hiding or fleeing behaviours
Anxiety can be treated with behavior modification and anti-anxiety medications such as trazodone.
5. They are bored or attention-seeking
Dogs will become dogs. They will chew and eat grass (or anything else) out of boredom or because they realize it attracts their owner’s attention.
In other words, just because your dog is chewing grass does not automatically indicate that he has a digestive disorder, is deficient in fiber or is suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Some dogs will chew, eat, and consume grass simply out of boredom or because they can.
Dogs are smart too. If they notice that they are getting more attention from their owner every time they eat grass, this can quickly become a behavior they develop to get more attention.
6. They enjoy the taste and/or texture of grass
There are dogs who simply enjoy the taste and/or texture of fresh grass, says Dr. Marisa Brunetti, VMD and chief veterinary officer at IndeVets, a veterinary staffing service that partners with animal hospitals.
“Some dogs enjoy tasting or eating grass, especially young spring grasses,” Brunetti says. “This may occur at specific times of the year, has no ill effects on your dog and does not last for a long period of time.”
Your dog may also enjoy the moisture he receives from the dew-covered grass.
7. They have pica
Some dogs develop a medical condition called pica, which is defined as “the persistent chewing and consumption of non-food items that provide no physical benefit to the animal,” according to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine.
A 2019 study in Japan found that among 2,000 dog owners, pica was one of the three most common behavioral problems, along with barking at noises inside the home and barking at unfamiliar visitors.
The study went further to suggest that pica is more likely to occur in younger dogs and those that have been neutered.
Pikas can lead to medical problems, including poisoning, dental problems and gastrointestinal obstructions, notes UC Davis Veterinary Medicine.