Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why do dogs eat grass?

Most dog owners have seen their canine friend chew on grass at one time or another. It seems that no one knows exactly why dogs do it.  A few theories exist to explain this seemingly odd behavior, though no answer has been proven.
Some veterinarians believe that there is something that dogs are not getting from their commercial diets.  They may be in need of some additional roughage or vitamins that come from the “salad” that they find in the yard. Adding some extra veggies as well as adding extra fiber may also be a possible solution.
Wolves and other wild canids are known to regularly eat plant matter; suggesting dogs' grass-eating behavior is innate and normal. Indeed, a 2009 dog study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that puppies were more likely to eat grass if their mothers did so while nursing.

One of the more common explanations for this behavior is that it helps dogs purge their systems. Dogs can suffer from gastrointestinal issues that make them feel ill. They graze on the grasses to make themselves vomit and ultimately feel better. If a dog is experiencing stomach problems, you may see it eating blades of grass.  The grass causes gastric irritation that leads to vomiting, which helps the dog feel better afterward.
The bottom line is that no one actually knows why dogs eat grass.  You might be able to gain some insight into nutritional deficits, or age-old wisdom on how awesome their instincts are. You will have to decide for yourself what the reason is behind your pet’s grazing.  However, here are some things to watch for.

Vomiting is not usually a normal situation. If your pet vomits on a rare occasion and seems to otherwise be himself, there is usually not cause for alarm.  If, however, your pet seems lethargic, is not eating, and is also vomiting, make an appointment to see your veterinarian right away.  Also, watch the grass your pet is grazing upon. Do not use fertilizers, de-icers, weed killers or other chemicals on your lawn, and make sure your grass is free of mushrooms as some types are toxic.  If your dog eats a large quantity of grass, he could potentially become ill from that.  If you are unsure if your dog’s grass eating behavior is normal, or if your dog seems ill from eating grass, please feel free to call us at Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital for more information.