Have you ever taken your dog outside and watched them roam around, looking so cute, then they suddenly start eating grass? You wonder; “What in the world are you doing?”. Did you know that this is totally normal behavior for dogs? Many dogs simply eat grass because it is instinctive; however, you simply may not have noticed them eating it before and that is why it is surprising to you.
On the flip side, there are times where eating grass or other plants could become a cause for concern and is something that you should monitor. When it comes to our furry friends, we simply want to make sure that whatever they are doing or, in this case, eating is what is best for them.
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What Makes My Dog Eat Grass?
According to the American Kennel Association, it is suggested that dogs may simply eat grass because it is in their DNA to do so. Also, it could be a way to help your pet with their digestive system, aka, passing stools. While this may not be the most pleasant thought, we as humans need to consume leafy greens and fibre and such for much the same reason.
However, a few things may cause concern for your pet:
- Your pet all of a sudden has started eating grass or any other plants available to them, after having never done so before.
- Your dog is eating grass or other plants frequently and excessively.
- Your dog is only eating grass and/or plants and refusing other dog food.
If any of the above things are happening, it would be in your pet’s best interest for you to see your veterinarian immediately to determine if there are any underlying reasons as to why all of a sudden your dog is consuming so much grass. It could be explained by a vitamin deficiency, a compulsion such as Pica, or even a psychological concern such as anxiety.
Lastly, your dog may be eating grass simply because they like it! That’s right, it is entirely possible that your dog really likes the taste of grass and, therefore, they want to eat it. In determining if this is the case, pay attention to where your dog is eating grass. You may find out they are more inclined to eat the grass from the local park rather than from your yard. Why? Maybe it is a different breed of grass and they enjoy the taste.
Should I Let My Dog Keep Eating Grass?
In general, yes, you should allow your pooch to continue eating grass if it is something that is not a new onset and is not causing any issues. However, there are some things you may want to consider:
- Do you put any fertilizer on your grass?
- Do you apply any pesticides to keep fleas and ticks off your yard?
- Are you in a public place where you do not know if any of these above items are put onto the grass?
With those three points made, it is clearly very important to be mindful of your pet and where they eat grass. The risk of eating various pesticides and other chemicals could be harmful and potentially even fatal for your pooch.
Is Eating Grass Going to Cause Any Health Issues?
A few things need to be considered based on the previous section. Even if no harmful pesticides are being put onto your grass, other issues can stem from eating grass.
One thing that can and does happen, is your dog ending up with parasites from eating grass and other plants.
Dogs can get certain parasites such as hookworms and roundworms from grass that has fecal matter from other infected dogs on it. Many times, grass (especially in a public place like a park) is used frequently by dogs and other animals to “do their business”; so, you would have no idea what your dog could be potentially ingesting along with grass.
Whipworm is another parasite that could be potentially fatal and is extremely difficult to get rid of exists primarily in the dirt but can also be consumed through grass; medically called Trichuris trichiura. This parasitic worm can be potentially fatal, and once in the dirt, it is near impossible to get rid of.
Parasites can be controlled with regular preventative medication and regular checkups with your veterinarian. However, because many pets in the U.S. go untreated with preventative medication there is a good chance your pet could contract one if eating grass and not up to date on his medications.
Obviously, parasites are going to cause stomach issues among plenty of other potential problems. However, grass itself might cause an upset stomach which, in turn, may leave you cleaning up some nasty messes such as diarrhea and vomiting. If you notice that your pet is doing one or both of these things often, go to a vet as soon as you can to ensure that it is just the grass causing the issue(s) and not something more harmful.
Many different heartworm medications prevent a myriad of different parasites from being able to latch on and survive within your pets. It is vitally important for the life of your pet to ensure that they are up to date on their medications and shots. Check with your vet to see what kind of treatments and testing may be required for your dog if they are not already taking preventative medication.
Can I Train My Dog to Not Eat Grass?
Fortunately, many dogs respond well to training with treats! The best way to ensure that your pet does not ingest any harmful parasites or toxins is to train them not to eat grass in the first place. At the first sign that grass eating is occurring and you want it to stop, begin a training plan with your pooch where you reward them when you give the command to stop.
One of the best ways to begin this process is simply by attempting to distract your dog when they try to consume grass. Clap, whistle, or squeak a toy to divert their attention from the grass and to you. When they do, give them a treat instead. Eventually, your dog, when let out, will discontinue the eating of grass on its own with the right training and monitoring.
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Most responsible pet owners want what is best for their dogs, which includes monitoring the types of foods that they eat. In this particular case, we’re talking about pups eating grass rather than their food that can be carefully picked and regulated. Let’s recap on some of the most important points about eating grass:
- Don’t stress about your dog eating grass! This can be completely normal for any dog (or animal for that matter).
- If the behavior is a sudden thing, visit your trusted veterinarian for advice.
- If your dog is frequently eating grass, monitor stools to ensure they are not bloody or loose. This type of stool may indicate there are underlying conditions (potentially from eating contaminated grass), such as a parasite.
- Monitor your dog if they vomit after eating grass. If vomiting is very infrequent/sporadic, then there is likely no cause for concern.
- If it is truly bothering you that your dog is eating grass but there are no noticed signs or symptoms of stomach issues, then begin a training routine with your pet to stop the behavior.
As always, if there is a great deal of concern on your part, or you simply want to make sure that your dog’s behavior hasn’t caused any hidden health issues, take a trip to your vet for a quick check-up to ensure everything is fine.