The disorder of eating objects and material that do not constitute normal diet is called Pica. In dogs, Pica is not something to worry about. In fact, eating grass is a common behaviour of dogs, and canines love munching grass. Dogs are neither carnivorous like cats nor are they typical garden variety omnivores. They eat anything and everything under the sun as long as it fulfils their dietary requirements.
So, do not worry if you see your furry friend grazing outdoor and rather enjoy the sight. The funny activities of your four legged best friend are quite a delight to watch. However, the question prevails – why this strange behaviour?
Reasons Why Your Dog Loves Eating Grass
Following are some common reasons as to why your dog might be relishing a grassy diet:
- Overcoming Nausea – The most common belief regarding your pet eating grass is that they do so when they feel nauseated. To a dog owner, it is a common sight, particularly if the canine is not keeping well. However, studies show that only 8% of dogs showed signs of illness before eating grass and those less than 22% vomited after having eaten grass.
- Deficient Diet – Dietary deficiency is another reason for your dog to eat grass. Your pet usually feeds on home-made diets and it is possible that they might be missing out on some key nutrient. It is believed that dietary imbalance usually causes a dog to resort to eating grass, the intention being to supplement its body with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Although dogs that are on veterinarian approved vitamins are unlikely to lack any nutrient that can be fulfilled by grass, do consult your vet to ensure this fact.
- Intestinal Health – Eating grass could be a good way of increasing intestinal motility. Almost all dogs are treated for parasites by means of de-worming agents on a routine basis. Eating grass could be an instinct-driven activity by canines to save themselves from intestinal parasites. It also helps your dog’s digestion. If a dog lacks fibre in its diet, it will not be able to digest and excrete waste products properly. In such a situation, dogs feed on grass to increase their fibre intake and to make their stools easier to pass.
- Evolution of Eating Habits – Due to evolution and domestication, dogs, nowadays are much different from their ancestors. Initially these scavengers used to devour their entire prey including the stomach contents of plant-eating animals. Nowadays, canines are a lot more docile. Instead they seek out plants as their alternative food source and the most common plant available to them -Grass. Dogs at times swallow it and at times spit it out. Sometimes they even throw up after eating grass. Wild canines are said to feed on fruits, berries, and other vegetable matter, too.
- Feeling Bored – Boredom seems to be another well known reason for your dog munching grass. Lazing around is definitely not a dog’s favourite sport. When they get bored, dogs chew and it is a fun activity for a dog to chew grass. The interaction of internal chemicals in the process of eating is very complex. It includes the secretion of dopamine which is associated with pleasure-reward in many species. It may be a cause of dopamine release-reward for dogs to eat grass.
When to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Grass
Grass in public parks or locations are often treated with chemicals and pesticides. Dogs ingest these chemicals not only by grazing but also by licking these chemicals off their paws after walking on these contaminated grass surfaces. Therefore, authorities need to use proper signs to warn pet owners. Your dog should never be allowed to wander around such contaminated areas, as chemicals and pesticides are the most common causes of pet poisoning.
If your dog throws up after eating grass, do not allow it to eat grass anymore. Like human beings, vomiting repeatedly hinders the internal organs and teeth of your dog. If a dog vomits immediately after consuming grass it is not that something is physically wrong, but at the same time do not leave it unattended. Try and find out the underlying cause and consult a vet immediately.
Apart from pesticides and chemicals, grass that your dog grazes on often has faecal residue from other dogs with parasites such as hookworms. Keep your dog away from such tainted grass in order to avoid any such unwanted intestinal infections.
A dietary change, proper training and a watchful eye to ensure grazing of uncontaminated grass can help your pup stay playful while going out for walks. Do not panic if you see your dog grazing on a regular basis. As long as your canine is hale and hearty there is nothing to worry about. That being said, any change in your dog’s behaviour requires veterinary help.