It’s no secret that dogs love to eat almost anything that they can get ahold of—garbage, poop, cat food, you name it. But one thing has baffled dog owners for many years, why do dogs eat grass? Surely as hardy carnivores, they’d prefer something with a bit more texture?
If you’re a doggy parent then you’ve probably experienced the following situation—you’re walking with your dog on the warm, sunny sidewalk when all of a sudden, you’re jerked off to the side by what used to be, just a second ago, your obedient pet. You walk up to him to see what he’s doing, and it turns out he’s just found himself the perfect grass salad on someone’s lawn.
Perhaps you remember from the last time he did it, that he ended up throwing up, so you gently yank him away from the grass to continue on with the walk. But what was so enticing about the grass in the first place, that made him want to graze on it like a cow? While we may never know the reason for sure (none of us can speak dog), there are various theories behind the behaviour—and that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about in this article.
Theory #1: Dogs eat grass as a means of inducing vomiting when feeling unwell
Many have speculated the grass eating behaviour to be related to the dog’s wellness—that is, they try to make themselves throw up by eating grass when they don’t feel well. However, can this really be true considering the fact that they don’t always end up emptying their stomach contents after the feast? According to statistics, the answer seems to be no—studies have found that the majority of the dogs who engage in this behaviour, are actually quite healthy. As a matter of fact, many veterinarians now consider the grass grazing to be normal canine behaviour.
So we know that he probably isn’t doing it because he’s unwell but how can you tell if your dog is going to vomit, for the purposes of avoiding an unnecessary mess? Look to see if there are any signs of salivation, licking or swallowing—there’s also a greater chance of him vomiting if the grass was rapidly scarfed down.
Theory #2: Dogs eat grass to improve digestion
As with most vegetation, grass is quite fibrous—this has led many to believe that dogs actually graze on grass, to improve their digestion. It seems to make sense, fibre does play a large role in the well-being of the digestive system after all, even in humans! Considering that, it’s not too far fetched to infer that your dog may be eating grass as a means of getting some extra fibre into their diet.
How would your dog know when to need more fibre? Well, a lack of fibre can easily cause discomforts such as bowel movements and even bloating—your four legged friend would most likely feel it when it happens!
Theory #3: Dogs eat grass because they are bored
Taking into account that dogs can get easily bored without proper amounts of stimulation, the reason behind their grass eating may simply be that—they are bored.
In fact, they may actually be trying to get your attention by grazing on grass; that or they’re just trying to entertain themselves with the things around them.
If you suspect this to be the case, ask yourself, “Does my dog get enough exercise and attention every day?” If the answer is no, well then that’s probably your answer.
The good news is that, out of all the possible reasons behind grass eating, this is probably the easiest to remedy. Remember, a dog with pent-up energy is simply bound for trouble. Always provide your pet with ample physical and mental stimulation, as well as daily exercise. Like they say—a tired dog is a happy dog.
Although grass isn’t harmful for dogs in itself, do keep in mind that toxic chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides may have been used on the grass; also watch out for other nearby plants which may be harmful for you pet—it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you ever suspect your dog to have ingested something poisonous, it is highly recommended for you to promptly consult your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Centre.