Why do dogs eat grass?

gras eten / eating grassThis is a common question from dog lovers. Why do dogs eat grass? Why doesmy dog eat grass? Is he missing something in his diet? Could he be sick? Does he think he is a cow? Well, maybe not the last one… but rest assured, he is just fine. He just does what other dogs do as well, nibble on grass.

Dogs munching on grass is actually a normal or common dog behaviour and is seen in wild dogs also. “Pica” is the technical term for a disorder of eating things that aren’t food. Sometimes pica can indicate that your dog has a nutritional deficiency or it could just be that they are bored.

Does it cause problems?
It should not cause problems. Eating grass is not a poisonous by itself. Long grass can be stuck while eliminating, and you as owner has to help your dog by pulling it out yourself Yak!

Just beware, grass can contain parasites, which your dog can swallow while eating the grass. Frequent de-worming can help prevent your dog from getting seriously ill though.

Does my dog get sick after eating grass?
Not necessarily. Not all dogs get sick after eating grass or vomit. Some people say that dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach, to máke themselves vomit. Others dispute this due to the fact that dogs simply aren’t smart enough to know how to treat themselves. It’s also quite rare. According to PetWebMD, fewer than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass and less than 25% of dogs will eat grass and vomit regularly.

Eating grass out of boredom
If there’s nobody to play with, how about a little grass chewing to pass the time? Some dogs may eat grass as a way to avoid sitting still. Generally speaking it’s wise to find a balance in physical and mental challenges. So, one long walk every day while your dog can run off leash would be a good idea. Also, try offering him some brainwork for dogs. This doesn’t have to be very difficult. Scatter a couple of treats in your livingroom or in the garden and you have made a find-and-search game voor your dog.

Waarom eten honden gras / Why do dogs eat grassIf you notice that your dog has been munching on grass or houseplants, you may want to introduce natural herbs or cooked vegetables into his diet. Some people also see it stop after adding a high-fiber dog food into their diet. Of course some dogs stop eating grass after changing their diet, but most dogs just like the taste and texture of grass; they also eat fruit, berries or other plants.

Attention
Like every undesired behaviour, it all depends on how the owner reacts on it. You could focus on the grass eating by immediatly reacting to it with ‘Fido, don’t’, ‘leave it’, ‘stop, you get some kibble back home’.  Your dog may simply be trying to get your attention, in which case it’s important to try not to directly reward this behaviour as it teaches them that eating grass leads to them getting what they want.

If you think your dog is hungry, give him a handful of his food before you start walking. He won’t be so hungry anymore and eating grass is not so important anymore. This works for eating poop as well. Obviously you can also change the route and avoid every lawn. No grass, no problem!

Relax
Most of the time eating grass doesn’t hurt a dog. Relax! Be aware and make sure he is not eating handfuls at a time or you can distract him with a toy. If he makes it a habit, he may be craving something missing in his diet.

It’s probably okay for your dog to munch down on some tasty grass every now and then. However, if they are eating grass regularly or consume an excessive amount then it may be worth investigating if there is a cause for this. If you are concerned about your dog’s excessive grass eating then you should get him checked out by your vet to check for any underlying health conditions. Even so, the first fresh grass in springtime is a mighty good snack. Especially with the dew still on it. Mmmmm.

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PS: You can try different (self-made) puzzle-games in the workshop ‘Wijsneus, brainwork for dogs’.

AFSPRAAK / APPOINTMENT