Chances are, at some point you’ve caught your dog eating grass. This is a common canine behavior that leaves many pet parents scratching their heads with concern and asking, “Why do dogs eat grass?” Unfortunately, there is no one clear explanation as to why dogs do this. There are, however, several theories, about what the motivations might be. Knowing what these different theories are can be helpful, but you shouldn’t consider them a definite answer to your pet’s behavior. If you notice your dog eating grass frequently or consistently, consult with your veterinarian.
One of the most widely spread theories about why some dogs eat grass has to do with their diet. Some believe that a lack of sufficient roughage in their diet may be one of the reasons for eating grass. Roughage is the course, indigestible parts of plant based food that are commonly known as dietary fiber. It is important to the health and function of the digestive system. For that reason, some dogs may consume grass to make up for a fiber deficit. Another theory is that dogs may eat grass if they are feeling excessively hungry.
An irritated stomach may also lead roughly 10 percent of dogs to chew on grass as a way of soothing or relieving themselves of the original irritant. The theory is that chewing grass may induce vomiting, which allows the pet to expel the source of their upset stomach. Although grass can make some dogs vomit, it is a reaction that only occurs in less than 25 percent of dogs that eat it.
When dogs eat grass there is a chance that they are following their natural instinct. One theory looks to the eating habits of ancestral wolves. When these wolves hunted they ate every portion of their captured prey, including the grass and other roughage found in the stomach. As a result, today’s dogs may be driven by behavior and tastes that have become ingrained over time.
One theory supplies a very simple answer to the question “Why do dogs eat grass?” It’s believed that some dogs enjoy nibbling on grass for no other reason than they like it. Some dogs may like the taste of certain types of grass, while others enjoy the texture. Eating grass can even be a way to alleviate boredom.
When to See a Veterinarian and Why
Is it bad for dogs to eat grass? The general consensus is no; however, that doesn’t mean pet owners shouldn’t question why their dogs are eating grass, particularly if the behavior is new. Taking your pet to the veterinarian may not narrow down the specific reason that it indulges in this type of behavior, but it can rule out health concerns. Your vet can perform blood and fecal tests to check for problems that may cause your pet to eat grass, such as gastrointestinal disease. If your pet’s craving for grass isn’t new, you should still call your vet if any new or concerning behaviors or problems begin to develop, such as diarrhea or lethargy. If a pet that regularly vomits after eating grass begins to lose weight, it may also be a sign of concern. These visits to the veterinarian are important as grass may have pesticides or other poisons that can endanger your pet’s life.
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