Why Does Your Dog Eat Grass?
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The Vet's Corner

Why Does Your Dog Eat Grass?

by Tiffany Ruiz Dasilva

Whether you have been puzzled watching your own dog chomping down on your lawn or heard stories of other dogs doing so, this seemingly unusual behavior has been a subject of curiosity among dog owners and researchers alike. In this article, I will delve into the various theories behind why dogs eat grass, shedding light on this mysterious canine habit.

Top Reasons Dogs Eat Grass

Digestive Aid

The most common assumption among pet owners is that dogs eat grass because they have an upset stomach. This belief arose because many dogs will vomit shortly after eating grass. However, studies have shown that less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass, and only 10% of dogs show signs of illness prior to eating grass. So could grass still provide some digestive value? The answer is yes. Fiber is an important part of the diet as it supports digestive health and allows for regular bowel movements. Grass is a good source of fiber, and therefore a dog may eat grass if they are not getting enough fiber in their diet.

What to do: Make sure that your dog’s diet has a high enough fiber content. You can also try adding some plain canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet to increase the fiber. Wild Earth dog food is high in fiber and protein. In fact, our Performance formula even contains prebiotic fiber, which is important for digestive health.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Our fur babies crave attention. After all, their lives revolve around us. So whether they are getting a nice belly rub or being yelled at, it’s better than being ignored. If you have yelled at your dog or expressed your dismay when they have eaten grass before, then they may continue the behavior for some attention. Remember negative attention is still attention.

What to do: Do your best to ignore your dog if they do begin eating grass, making sure to avoid yelling. Instead try to redirect your dog, and offer a reward if they are able to be redirected.

Boredom and Anxiety

Dogs not only require physical exercise, but they also need mental stimulation as well. Just like humans, dogs can experience boredom and stress. In certain instances, grass consumption may be linked to behavioral factors such as boredom, anxiety, or stress. Dogs may turn to grass eating as a form of entertainment, especially when left alone in a backyard or confined space for long periods of time. Chewing on grass may also serve as a coping mechanism for dogs experiencing mild anxiety, helping to distract them from their worries or to release pent-up energy.

What to do: If you feel your dog is eating grass due to anxiety or boredom, there are a few options. First and foremost, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Walks and play time offer both physical as well as mental stimulation. Second, using a food puzzle that challenges your dog can provide them with mental stimulation as well. Third, for anxious dogs, try providing them with an old t-shirt or something that has your familiar scent on it to comfort them while they are alone. Lastly, speak with your veterinarian about other options if your dog is suffering from anxiety.

Medical Conditions

Although grass eating is generally considered harmless, there could be underlying medical reasons prompting this behavior in some cases. Dogs suffering from certain dietary deficiencies or health issues might seek out grass to fulfill specific nutritional requirements.

What to do: If you observe excessive grass eating, it's essential to consult a veterinarian to rule out any potential health concerns.

Keep An Eye on Your Dog

While the exact reason why dogs eat grass remains somewhat elusive, a combination of digestive aid and behavioral factors likely contribute to this habit. For most dogs, occasional grass munching appears to be harmless and a part of their normal behavioral repertoire. However, if you notice a sudden increase in grass eating, or if it's accompanied by vomiting or other behaviors, it's best to seek professional veterinary advice. Understanding our dog’s behaviors can help strengthen the bond we share with them and ensure their overall well-being.

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