We noticed recently that millions of people each month search whether or not dogs can eat this or that. People Google everything from can dogs eat asparagus to my dog ate a sock. As a loving and concerned pet owner, you may think you know everything there is to know about your dog’s health and nutrition, but we’re going to cover one question that we’ve seen is Googled an astounding number of times per month: Can dogs eat grass? The short answer is “yes,” understanding why and when your dog may eat grass is more important and may help you to better understand your dog’s needs.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Your furry friend is a known carnivore, meaning they survive solely on protein. They consume proteins ranging from carrion and insects to domesticated animals and even scavenged human food. So why, then, do dogs eat grass? Well, in the same way, we eat spinach or fruit because of their beneficial nutrients, dogs realize that the long fibrous strands of grass offer certain unique nutrients that are beneficial to their health. Many professional veterinarians believe that dog’s grass-eating habit is a form of pica, which is a condition where dogs eat non-food items. In most cases, it is not known why a dog begins to show this type of pica behavior. Very rarely is it due to organic disease, while other times it has to do with hormonal imbalances or nutritional deficiency.
Let’s dig deeper into why your dog eats grass and what it can provide so you can be sure your pet is getting the nutrients they need.
The grass which is found in nature contains nutrients, such as vitamin C, riboflavin, and the amino acid lysine, which they are unable to obtain through meat alone. Vegetation also contains fiber, which helps dogs to digest it. A dog’s system can break down this fiber, but not every dog’s system can tolerate certain foods.
Chances are your dog is not suffering from digestion issues, but rather they see eating grass as a fun way to enjoy their surroundings. It is widely debated whether or not dogs can truly enjoy the taste of grass; many veterinary experts claim this act is simply a means to obtain roughage, while others claim that it’s their natural instinct that causes them to crave grass.
Regardless of which reason holds true, the bottom line is that dogs are carnivores, which means they require protein. However, often when dogs’ requirement for protein is not being fulfilled, they will search for ways to supplement their diet. It is completely natural for a dog to do this, and many other animals do it as well, including cats.
Is Eating Grass Bad for Dogs?
Eating grass is a common canine behavior that owners may find alarming. Some dogs might do it when they’re not feeling well, but more often, it’s a natural behavior for a dog’s digestive tract to produce certain enzymes that can help break down and digest grass. It’s unlikely your dog is eating grass to “make itself vomit” and purge itself of any potential toxins. If your dog is eating grass, it’s likely unnecessary for you to panic. If your dog is showing signs of illness or there is a noticeable decrease in their health, take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If they exhibit signs of diarrhea or vomiting, make sure you act fast because of the possibility of blockage.
How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Eating Grass?
The absolute best way to stop your dog from eating grass is to give them access to a good quality dog food that contains all the nutrients they need to remain fit and healthy. If your dog has a portion of older dog food, consider switching their food. Although this may not be the only reason your dog is eating grass, it certainly cannot be harmful to change your dog’s diet if they don’t seem to enjoy their food or if their body is craving nutrients that they do not receive from it.
If a change in diet isn’t enough, try using natural, holistic deterrents for your dog’s eating habits. Anise, coriander, fennel, mustard, dill, or peppermint are among a variety of ingredients that aid in triggering your dog’s natural instincts to avoid eating or chew on grass.
Dogs can be a bit of a pain to take care of sometimes, BUT, with their unwavering friendship and unending loyalty, there is no doubt that dogs are worth the time and effort!
How Do I Know if My Dog Needs to Go to the Vet?
For some dogs, eating grass may be a harmless habit that is most common in certain breeds, such as the herding breeds; however, other dogs eat grass if they are ill. Sometimes dogs might eat grass because they are having gastrointestinal problems. They may also eat grass if they have accidentally eaten something poisonous. Some breeds, such as chow chows or other dogs that do not have a lot of shedding, have a tendency to eat grass, which can help keep their coats clean.
If your dog has stopped eating its food altogether, loses its appetite, has diarrhea, or is licking itself excessively, then a visit to the vet should be necessary. The vet can offer an accurate diagnosis for your dog to learn whether or not they are among the dogs that enjoy grass as a natural source of nutrients. If your dog is vomiting, then you should absolutely take a blood sample or monitor your dog for any symptoms of illness.
When Should You Take Action?
The best thing to do is to get to your dog’s vet as quickly as possible. The vet will be able to give you a complete physical and perform any necessary blood work. If blood work reveals that your dog is anemic or if they show signs of dehydration, they will be given fluids and nutrients to eliminate signs of illness. In some instances, they may have to stay in the hospital for a few days until they start to feel better. If it is determined that your dog has eaten something toxic, then you may find yourself giving them drugs to stop their symptoms, whether it be vomiting or diarrhea.
So, the next time you see your dog munch on some grass, try not to be so quick to react. Although it may be alarming to see your dog doing it, your best bet is to observe them and figure out whether or not your dog truly seems unwell or if they have developed a habit of eating grass. Afterward, you can talk to your vet and, if necessary, try some of the organic herbs or natural deterrents to finding out if that can help make grass-eating something that will pass with a simple change of diet or with a little bit of effort on your part.