Dog owners are no strangers to the variety of odd behaviors their canine companions engage in, but eating grass often tops the list as the most perplexing. Seeing these supposed carnivores delicately (or greedily) chomping away at greenery often leaves us confused. In fact, one of the most common questions we’re asked is why do dogs eat grass?
Side Salad, Anyone?
Although studies have been conducted as to why dogs eat grass, there are no prevailing theories to date. Some of the most popular ideas include:
- Digestive trouble – By far, this is the most common explanation, and many dog owners are certain that eating grass relieves their pet’s nausea or upset stomach. However, there’s little evidence to support this theory; less than 25% of dogs actually vomit after consuming grass.
- Fiber needs – The idea that dogs eat grass to add fiber to their high-protein diet is also widely recognized. Dogs on restrictive or low-nutrient diets may seek out grass as a way to add missing vitamins or minerals to their diet.
- Instincts – Modern dog ancestors were natural scavengers who would generally eat the entirety of their grass-eating prey, including the stomach contents. It’s been speculated that the desire to eat grass stems from this ancient dietary addition.
- Palate – Dogs are omnivores by nature, and with their ability to consume (and seemingly enjoy) a wide variety of foods, it makes sense that some may actually like the taste and texture of grass.
- Boredom – A lack of mental stimulation and/or exercise may lead to certain undesirable behaviors, such as the eating of non food items like grass.
What to Do When Dogs Eat Grass
Most experts agree there’s no harm in letting your dog munch on a little of the green stuff now and then. You can set your pet up for success with the following tips:
- Provide your dog with a nutrient balanced, high quality commercial pet food (give us a call for recommendations).
- Try adding cooked vegetables into the diet as a delicious way to slip some extra nutrients to your pooch.
- Planting or purchasing a tray of grass specifically for your dog to graze on is a great alternative to the chemically treated lawns often found in neighborhoods.
- Make sure your pet is getting age appropriate daily exercise and plenty of playtime or other forms of mental stimulation to decrease boredom.
If you notice an increase in grass eating or are concerned that it’s becoming obsessive, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Advantage Veterinary Center. Certain medical conditions can prompt a pet to eat grass or other out-of-the-ordinary items, so it’s always a good idea to bring them in to see us if you’re concerned.