Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Dogs eat the strangest things. Hair, dust, toys, rocks, their poop, other dogs poop. One of their favorite delicacies seems to be grass. But why!? Let's explore some of the reasons why eating grass may be one of your dog’s favorite pastimes.
Maybe It’s Instinct?
The diet of dogs today is very different than the diet of their ancestors. Their ancestors used to scavenge the land for everything and anything that would fulfill their nutritional needs. Most times, this consisted of whole animals- bones and all. This included the animals' stomach contents, many of which consisted of grass. Examining stool samples of wolves reveals that 11-47% of them eat grass. Perhaps dogs today still have that instinct to scavenge just like their ancestors.
Is Eating Grass Fulfilling a Physical Need?
Pica is a term for eating strange, non-food items. It is generally thought of as a human condition, although pica has been thought to be a possible explanation for grass-eating by dogs.
Pica is thought to stem from nutrient deficiencies such as iron or zinc. Another reason why your dog may be eating grass is to fulfill a digestive ailment. Grass has roughage and fiber, which your doggo needs. Go over your pup's diet and eating habits with your vet. If your pupper is eating enough of a well-balanced diet, nutrient deficiencies shouldn't be the driving causes behind their lawn munching.
Is Eating Grass Fulfilling a Psychological Need?
Like humans, dogs may do some pretty odd things when they are in emotional, mental, or social distress. Eating grass just may be one of them.
Just like a human may tap their foot persistently or chew their fingernails to relieve anxiety, a dog may chomp on some grass.
Is your puppy bored? Maybe grazing your way through your fridge is your go-to to relieve that boredom. Maybe grazing Fido's way through your lawn is his go-to for boredom relief!
Aside from boredom, anxiety, or restlessness, your dog may be eating grass to get your attention. We've all been guilty of devoting too much of our time and attention to silly things (ahem, our cell phones). Then, of course, there are actually important things - work, kids, family, a social life. Sometimes your pup may feel a little neglected, so he turns to destructive behaviors like chewing up your rug or munching on your lawn.
Do They Just Like It!?
While you may think this is a strange possibility. Consider that many dogs eat POOP, and then re-evaluate the level of strangeness (and grossness) you may think this is at. Maybe your pup simply just likes the tough texture and earthy (grassy?) taste of grass!
When Too Much Grass Munching Can Be a Problem
Regardless of its commonality, too much grass eating can be a problem.
Basic obedience training and treats (yay treats!) can help train your dog to avoid the grass chomping. Distracting behaviors such as making loud noises like clapping or calling your dog's name can also help.
Remember, grass can contain many toxic elements such as parasites, herbicides, pesticides, and fecal remnants from other animals. If your pup is eating grass excessively or more than usual, contact your vet. He (or she) will be able to help you help your dog resist that yummy green stuff.