It's a common question - why does my dog eat grass? We think of dogs as meat-eaters, so their sudden backyard salads seem odd to us. Truth is, there are many reasons why dogs eat grass. Here are 3 causes and what to do about them.
Reason: Craving Roughage
Dogs' ancestors, wolves, are hunters. They often eat small vegetarian animals, like rabbits and rodents. When they eat their prey, they eat the whole prey - including stomachs and any grasses or vegetables inside them. So even as hunters, wolves naturally have greens as part of their diet. Dogs on commercial diets may instinctively crave the roughage kibble doesn't provide. Dogs can't read the label to know they're getting the nutrients anyway.
What To Do: Provide Roughage
When eating greens from the stomach of prey, wolves eat partially-digested greens. As such, their stomachs are not made for digesting whole, raw veggies. To give your dog the roughage he's craving, mix steamed or pureed veggies like broccoli, carrots, or green beans into your dog's food. Also, give your dog's food a second look. Check out the ingredients and if it doesn't cut muster, consider the switch to a higher quality food with high fiber.
Reason: Cause Vomiting
This one is debatable. It's a common occurrence to see a dog eat grass, then vomit. Are they vomiting because the grass made them sick, or because the grass helped them expel something else making them sick? Vets aren't sure which is the cause and which is the effect with grass and vomiting. Dogs often eat grass without getting sick, so it may be a function of how they eat it. Quickly eating it doesn't break down the grass, leaving the texture to irritate their digestive system, while chewed grass may not. Why do they do it? Dogs may eat grass as a way to induce vomiting when they are feeling sick and need to expel a bothersome substance from their stomach.
What To Do: Identify The Cause Of Vomiting
Whether it's the cause or not, investigate what else may be making your dog sick. Is your dog on medications with nausea as a side effect? Have you recently changed your dog's food? Could he have gotten into something that is making him sick? Figure out what is causing the vomiting to get to the root of the problem. A simple meal of rice and boiled boneless, skinless chicken is often recommended to soothe upset stomachs. If vomiting continues, consult your vet.
Bored dogs do all sorts of things to entertain themselves. If your dog isn't stretching his muscles enough or not getting enough of a mental workout, he'll find his own way. Your dog may eat grass to explore new tastes, textures, and smells, or to gnaw on something as a way to work out energy.
What To Do: Exercise And Toys
Give your dog the exercise he's craving. Go for longer walks, and vary your route so that your dog may explore new smells and sights without chomping down on grass. Give your dog toys that will stimulate his brain. A brain game like the Interactive Tornado Game is a good way to give your dog's brains more exercise while he uses physical dexterity to maneuver the toy. (Click the blue link to read more about the toy.)
Why does my dog eat grass? It could be several reasons. Luckily, experts agree that it's not harmful. Still, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your dog and what's going on around him to determine the cause. From there, you can solve the real problem so your dog stops mowing your lawn for you.
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Photo credit: CJ Sorg