Dogs are natural carnivores that have no issues gobbling down large chunks of meat. So, it might come as a surprise when you see your pup chowing down on grass whenever you let them out. This behavior is referred to as Pica. Essentially, it's an eating disorder that involves consuming things that aren't viewed as food.
While it might sound alarming at first, eating grass is actually pretty normal.
Most dogs will consume grass at some point in their life. Some dogs do it more than others simply because they like the taste. But what does it mean when your dog suddenly adopts the habit out of nowhere?
Truth is, there are several different reasons why your dog might be frantically eating grass. Here are some of the most common.
Common Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Usually, dogs eat grass because they are suffering from some type of gastrointestinal upset. You might notice your dog whimpering at the door, begging to be let out. Then, they'll bolt out to the nearest grass patch and devour as much of the green stuff as they can.
This should be a red flag, especially if it occurs at a time when they don't normally go outside for relief.
Not much is known about why dogs choose to consume grass for stomach pain. Some believe that it's because dogs know that grass isn't easy to digest. They know that it's different from their normal food and will spend some time in their stomaches before its fully processed.
Other think that dogs do this to force themselves to start vomiting. Dogs know how the grass feels. They can tell that the grass blades are scratchy and ticklish. So, pups will grab a mouthful in hopes that it will trigger their gag reflex and cause them to vomit.
Should I Be Worried?
First, it's important to know the difference between selective eating and frantic eating. If your dog normally snacks on grass every once in a while, they'll often spend some time searching for grass that will feed their urge. They might be more selective about the types of grass they choose to eat.
For dogs that are frantically eating for stomach relief, there's no selection process. They run to the first patch of grass they see and grab a large mouthful.
There may be cause for concern with the latter behavior. It's always recommended that you seek veterinary care whenever your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort. With that being said, not all stomach issues require medical attention.
Stomach problems can come and go fast. Occasional stomach dilemmas are to be expected. As long as the problem doesn't persist, let your dog do his or her thing.
Your pup is smart enough to know what they need to do. The act of eating grass is their attempt to get some relief. If they're doing it to vomit, they're trying to get rid of the thing that's causing them pain.
It's the same as us humans grabbing a bottle of antacid. Just keep an eye out on how often the behavior occurs. If it happens pretty regularly, you might want to see if are any underlying issues causing the pain.
Despite centuries of domestication, old habits die hard. In many cases, grass-eating is simply an instinctive behavior from their early ancestors. When dogs lived in the wild, they ate whenever food was available. If they didn't, they would get weak and die.
So, when food was abundant, they would have a grand feast and consume every part of the animal they could. This included any grass in the prey's stomach and edible plants they encounter.
While it's rare, some dogs still think that it's feast or famine. Even if you feed your dog regularly, they might take the opportunity to gobble up everything in sight when given the chance.
Dogs can also eat frantically whenever they come across a type of grass that they like.
As we mentioned earlier, chowing on grass is pretty common in canines. Those that enjoy the taste of grass may develop certain preferences.
For example, your dog might enjoy sweetgrass but leave the normal stuff in the backyard alone. If they come across that delicious sweetgrass during your walk, don't be surprised when they scarf it down in seconds.
In these instances, it's all about getting the grass when it's available. There's no telling when your pup will encounter that grass again, so why not feast on it now?
Dog owners often spend years trying to find the perfect food that meets all of their pup's nutritional requirements. Even if you think you've found something that provides a balanced diet, your dog might disagree.
Surprisingly, dogs are fully capable of knowing when they're not getting something they need. They might not know the exact science of what's going on in their body, but their intuition tells them when they have nutritional deficiencies.
Your dog might be eating grass because it offers something that they aren't getting from their normal food. Grass is relatively healthy. It's filled with phytonutrients and is rich in potassium.
These nutrients are essential for good overall health. If your dog isn't feeling like they're in prime health, they may start eating grass to see what works for them.
Grass is also a great source of fiber and digestive. Stomach discomfort can wreak havoc on your dog's body. So, it's not uncommon for pups to use it as a way to keep things regular.
They don't have to be experiencing pain to take advantage of what grass has to offer. It could be a way for them to avoid problems in the future.
Addressing the Problem
If you want your dog to stop eating grass, try modifying their diet a bit. Consider switching to a food that has a new protein source and plenty of vitamins.
If that doesn't work, go with kibble that has slightly higher fiber content and some probiotics. Those foods can address the nutritional deficiencies that your dog is experiencing.
There have been many reported cases of dogs who stopped eating grass after some minor changes to their diet were made. Give it a try and see what your pup thinks.
Is Eating Grass Dangerous
Generally, snacking on some grass here and there is no cause for concern. Grass is a natural plant that's filled with vitamins. As long as it doesn't make up a significant portion of their diet, there's no harm.
However, it's important that you think about some possible issues that could arise. The biggest problem you could encounter is sickness from pesticides and fertilizers.
If you bring your dog to the local park, there's a good chance that chemicals are used to keep that grass in good condition, so keep a watchful eye. Your dog should never eat anything that's chemically treated.
Also, you need to make sure that your dog doesn't eat anything that's potentially poisonous. As they tear apart grass, they could easily pick up toxic plants or fungus. To keep your dog as safe, take a look around your yard and remove anything that could pose a health risk.
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Finally, you want to be wary about how much grass your dog is eating. Large quantities could lead to a blockage in their gastrointestinal tract. Remember, grass isn't easy to digest, so you need to be careful.
Consider changing up their diet or providing them with healthy alternatives to grass if they're eating too much.
Eating grass may seem like weird behavior to us, but it's relatively normal in dogs. Use your best judgment to determine if you need to change this behavior or not. There are many reasons why they eat grass frantically.
If you suspect that there's a serious medical issue or nutritional deficiency at play, consult with your vet.