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Why does your dog eat grass?

Warmer weather has meant that I’ve sat outside more these last few days, happily watching our dogs mooching in the garden.   Two out of our three dogs regularly snack on grass, occasionally other plants too. Personally I’ve always felt that there are varied reasons: possibly health related and certainly some are psychological in nature.

So in an attempt to learn something new I started to ‘google’. Here’s what I found: no-one is100 percent sure why my dog/s might be grazing on our lawn. I could only find one (American) study dealing with the issue of grass eating and it was relatively recent (2008).

Although most experts agree that grazing itself isn’t harmful, one thing to keep in mind is that certain herbicides and pesticides used on lawns can be quite toxic, especially if ingested. Additionally, a number of common house and garden plants are toxic, which could lead to problems if your dog munches on them along with the lawn.

Traditionally people thought that dogs might turn to eating grass when they don’t feel well as a way to make themselves vomit, and then feel better. Alternatively, the dog might be trying to improve his digestion, treating intestinal worms, or fulfilling some unmet nutritional need, eg a lack of fibre. And, of course, there is also the possibility that your dog simply likes the way grass tastes or feels.
Upset tummy problems?  If you suspect your dog is eating grass because of a nutritional deficiency switching to a high-fibre diet might help.  Research has shown that fewer than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass and only 10% showed signs of illness beforehand.  However, if the behaviour starts suddenly or if your dog is very anxious about needing to eat the grass then it may be time to seek veterinary advice.
Maybe the dog is bored?  It might he might not be getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as providing some toys or a healthy chew as an alternative or dedicating yourself to a consistent exercise routine.
Researchers conclude that grass eating is a common behaviour that usually occurs in normal dogs and is generally not associated with illness or dietary needs. They go on to suggest that grass eating may reflect an innate predisposition inherited from dogs’ wild ancestors.
Finally, there may be some incidences in which dogs turn to grass eating as a compulsive or displacement behaviour.  Our oldest dog becomes anxious when the other two start vigorous games eg playing ball.  He does not compete or join in because he’s too slow, too submissive or maybe too lazy to even try!. The solution? Eat grass.

 

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