In the scientific community, eating weird non-food objects (such as grass) is referred to as pica, and it may be related to a diet that is low in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. If dogs are fed a nutritious, well-balanced commercial meal, they shouldn’t be nutritionally deficient; therefore, why do dogs eat grass?
Although the question is straightforward, the answer is not.
Is eating grass a physiological requirement?
One frequent misconception is that dogs chew grass to alleviate upset tummies. This is incorrect. A small number of dogs consume grass in a hurried manner and then vomit immediately afterward.
Is it possible for a dog to eat grass in order to vomit and ease an ailing stomach, or does he have a stomachache and vomit as a result of eating grass?
Since studies have shown that less than 25 percent of dogs vomit after consuming grass, it is doubtful that they will resort to eating the green stuff as a form of self-medication in this situation.
In reality, just 10% of dogs show indicators of disease prior to consuming grass, according to research. Bottom line: The vast majority of grass-eating dogs do not become ill before eating and do not vomit after eating grass.
Grazing, on the other hand, maybe able to meet another digestion requirement. Roughage is essential in the diet of dogs, and the grass is a wonderful source of fiber for them.
Because a lack of roughage impairs a dog’s capacity to digest food and pass feces, grass may actually be beneficial to their overall health by facilitating their physiological functions.
Is grazing on grass a psychological requirement?
When a dog is awake, he is focused on his owners’ activities, watching them depart and waiting for them to come back to him.
Despite the fact that most dogs love the outdoors, some become bored when left alone and require stimulation to keep them entertained. The ability to nibble on grass that is readily available helps pass the time.
Dogs want human companionship and, if they feel neglected, they may attempt to attract their owners’ attention by engaging in undesirable behavior such as eating grass.
Aside from that, anxious dogs chew their fingernails as a form of comfort, just like nervous people do with their fingernails. Whether dogs are bored, lonely, or anxious, it is frequently seen that their grass-eating behavior rises as the amount of time they spend with their owners diminishes.
Was there anything that dog owners could do to help these grazing dogs? A new toy or an old t-shirt scented with its owner’s aroma can provide some relief for anxious dogs. A puzzle toy that contains food and challenges the dog will provide mental stimulation and help to alleviate boredom in the dog.
Dogs who are more active benefit from more regular walks and more rigorous playtime. Doggie daycare may be a suitable alternative for dogs who require socialization with other canines on a regular basis.
Is grazing on grass a natural instinct?
Your dog’s predecessors did not eat kibble that was packaged in sealed bags. When hunting, dogs in the wild were able to maintain a healthy diet by consuming the entire prey they caught, including the meat, bones, stomach contents of their prey, internal organs, etc.
It was possible to consume an entire animal and yet have a somewhat balanced diet, especially if the prey’s stomach contained grass and plants that satisfied the dog’s requirement for fiber.
Dogs are not real carnivores (that is, they eat only meat), but they are also not true omnivores (that is, they eat both meat and plants). In the wild, dogs will eat anything that would help them meet their fundamental nutritional requirements.
The analysis of feces samples reveals that 11-47 percent of wolves consume grass. Despite the fact that modern dogs do not need to hunt for their food, this does not imply that they have lost their innate instinct to scavenge.
It is possible that some dogs, even those that adore their commercial dog food, would consume grass as a reflection of their lineage and the necessity to forage in order to survive.
Eating grass is a behavior problem for these dogs, however, it may not actually be a problem at all in this case.
You need not be concerned if your dog’s occasional grazing session does not result in illness, as long as constant parasite prevention is offered (intestinal parasites may enter the body with grass).
Behavioral modification, on the other hand, may interfere with natural inclinations and cause more harm than benefit.
Do they like it when it’s green?
Despite the several well-thought-out arguments for why dogs eat grass, we can’t ignore the most straightforward of them all: they simply enjoy it.
The texture and taste of grass in the jaws of dogs may be all that they are interested in. As a matter of fact, many dogs are grass aficionados, and they love to eat grass in the spring when it is just beginning to sprout.
What can I do to prevent my dog from eating grass?
Whatever the reason for your dog’s grass consumption, it is not the ideal snack for him. However, while the grass itself may not be detrimental to your dog, the herbicides and insecticides that are sprayed on it may be damaging to him.
Additionally, when your dog is plucking grass off the ground, he or she may swallow intestinal parasites like hookworms or roundworms that have been introduced to the grass through fecal leftovers from other dogs and contaminate the grass. So, what is the best way to put a halt to the grazing?
Dogs who respond well to food incentives may be educated to stop eating grass in exchange for a more nutritious alternative. This means you’ll need to carry rewards with you when you take your dog out for a walk and you’ll need to accompany him to the bathroom.
Whenever the dog leans down to nibble grass, divert his attention by instructing him to walk in a different direction or by giving him a verbal correction and rewarding him with a treat when he obeys.
Dogs who are motivated by affection can be trained to use the same method as described above, with the only difference being that positive verbal reinforcement and petting are used as incentives instead of food.
Dogs who listen to vocal orders may only require a simple “heel” command to stop their grassy feast and re-direct their attention away from the grassy snack.
Sources: VCA Hospitals, WebMD, AKC