When it comes to your dog’s health and happiness, giving them nutritious food and treats is vital. You may be spending decent money on healthy goodies for your dog, but yet they insist on eating grass. So why do dogs eat grass? While it may be a simple question, the answer is not so simple.
Pet experts believe that dogs eat grass as normal canine behavior (typically known as “pica”) and it is typically nothing to worry about. However, there are three main reasons why dogs eat grass: 1) Psychological needs, 2) Physical needs, and 3) Instinct.
When dogs eat grass because of a psychological need, it may be for various reasons. Remember, a dog’s day revolves around its owner’s day—the majority of the time grass-eating increases as quality time with the owner decreases. They crave human attention. Many dogs get anxious and use grass-eating as a comfort mechanism or as a way to get their owner’s attention. Just as an anxious human may chew their fingernails, dogs may eat grass. Or a dog may even eat grass if they’re bored to pass time or get their owner’s attention.
A popular assumption when you catch your dog eating grass is that they have an upset stomach. While yes, that may sometimes be the reason, there could be a bigger physical need there. Studies have shown that many grass-eating dogs are not even sick beforehand, and don’t vomit afterward. Instead, your dog may be eating grass due to a digestive need (typically called grazing). Fiber intake affects the dog’s ability to digest food and pass stool. So eating grass may help their bodily functions run more steadily.
Plain, old instinct may also be a common reason your dog is eating grass. Obviously, your dog’s ancestors didn’t eat kibble—they ate what they could hunt. Dogs are neither carnivores nor herbivores, but sometimes they crave the act of eating grass and consume pretty much anything that fulfills their basic dietary needs, which includes grass. So your dog may just be simply acting off of instinct (or they just like the taste and texture).
Regardless of the reason, eating grass is not exactly the best snack for your canine. This is especially true if the grass has been or gets treated on a regular basis, making the grass toxic to them. There’s also a chance that they may ingest intestinal parasites that get in the grass from fecal residue from other dogs.
So, be alert and aware if your dog is eating grass. Pay attention to if it is occurring more often and if your dog is showing signs of sickness. You may need to visit your vet, but you may just be able to help boost your dog’s nutrition with a simple addition to their diet.
If you believe your dog is lacking in the nutritional department, a great potential remedy would be to incorporate a multivitamin in your dog’s daily diet.
Your dog doesn’t have to be old to reap the benefits of a multivitamin. Vets say that dogs can benefit from multivitamins at any age. They can be incredible strengthening tools for preventative care, as well as potentially helping with a nutritional deficiency (ahem, grass-eating pups). Who knew?
Before you go and just pick the first multivitamin you see, it’s important to understand that not all multivitamins are created equal. Most people are likely to give their dogs the cheapest supplements or the most expensive, which are equally popular choices because of the price or lack of knowledge. That is if they’re using a multivitamin at all, as many choose to skip this key step.
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Hart, Benjamin. (2008). Why do dogs and cats eat grass?. Veterinary Medicine. 103. 648-649.