Eating Habits of Dogs
Why do dogs eat grass – Dogs are omnivores in nature. Among a number of strange habits that a pet owner witnesses is that of their dog munching on grass. Different breeds of dogs seem to eat grass for a wide variety of reasons only best known to them. Furthermore, the grass eating habit of dogs may be classified into 2 types viz. grazing and instinctive munching. About the after effects of grass eating habit too the experts have varied opinions. Some see it as a normal act by the virtue of dogs being omnivores while other experts express concern particularly about the ill effects of consuming grass or vegetation that may be contaminated.
Reasons why dogs develop grass eating habit
Some dogs eat grass, nibbling it in such a way that it seems they are enjoying its taste while some may eat it just to vomit it out within a short interval of time. Some of the most common reasons that can be stated for this are as under.
- Change in taste: – It is highly likely that even the best fed dogs get attracted to grass and fall to the temptation to eat it just because they find its taste irresistible. They probably consume it to change the taste of their tongue by trying a seemingly exotic flavor.
- Pastime: -A careful observation may reveal that dogs who are idle are more prone to eat grass than the ones who are indulged in their favorite pastimes. Hence, grass eating, in the context of dogs could be a means to avoid boredom and to engage in a pastime by nibbling at grass blades.
- Self-medication: – Animals are known to invent remedies for all their maladies through their own endeavors. An expert opinion hints at this grass eating habit of dogs as an attempt to cure some of their stomach disorders.
- Instinctive urge: – A theoretical possibility is that undomesticated dogs who were once the ancestors of the current domesticated canine generation used to feed on whole herbivore prey. In the process, the vegetation matter present in the stomach of their prey used to get ingested in their body. Dogs that succeeded from this generation still crave for that accustomed taste of vegetation that they can now satisfy by eating grass.
- Aid to digestion: – Some dog experts see this grass eating habit of dogs as an attempt to aid digestion. Grass contains fibers and nutrients that are known to assist digestion.
- To induce vomiting: – Another reason that can be attributed to this is that dogs that are sick use grass to introduce vomiting so as to relieve themselves of uneasy feeling.
- Scavenging attitude: -Dogs are natural scavengers by virtue of which their mind is programmed to search for nutrition in everything around them. Grass is no exception to their inquisitive nose.
Risks associated with grass eating in dogs
Majority of dog experts opine that grass eating doesn’t create any direct serious threat to a dog’s health provided it is clean and fresh. However, there are still some associated risk factors that need to be taken care of: –
- Quality of grass: – Not all grass is smooth and tender. Some varieties of grass have long, rigid blades with sharp edges. If a dog tries to consume such grass, it may cause throat abrasion or even damage the sensitive esophagus of dogs. The dog may soon start coughing after consuming such grass due to irritation.
- Pollutants: – Most of the grass, particularly growing wild may be laden with pollutants. Even farm grass contains loads of insecticides, pesticides or weedicides. Consumption of such chemical smeared grass can always cause serious health hazards to dogs.
- Medical condition: – If a dog develops habit of eating objects different from its normal diet, it may lead him to unconsciously eat items that are highly objectionable such as cloth, garbage, pieces of paper and even excretory stuff.
- Blockage: – Excessive intake of grass and twigs may result in a partial or total blockage of the digestive system.
How to discourage dogs from eating grass
Casual grass eating habit of dogs may safely be overlooked by parents as it is natural. However, if the dog owner notices an unusual trend or if the pet consumes larger quantity of grass or develops some health issue, the owner must come forward to intervene. Here are some of the ways to deal with it: –
- Change the diet of the dog either by increasing the doses of food or its frequency or by changing the mix. If suggested by the vet, food supplements may also be included in the dog’s diet. The food must necessarily contain high fiber component.
- The dog may be provided with a chew toy that will serve as a safe alternative and will also satiate his chewing habit.
- To neutralize the risk of toxic intake, the owner may also plan to grow fresh grass in his lawn for the dog. The chosen safe varieties of grass will pose no risk to dog’s health.
- The dog may be taken to a vet where the root cause of such fascination may be found and later appropriately addressed through medication or training.
Although grass eating may not be considered as a big issue by dog experts, yet dog owners must keep a strict vigil on their dog’s eating habit. They must know well when to put the brakes lest it may cause some serious issues to their pet’s health.
After all “A stitch in time saves nine.”