Dogs are these silly, goofy, adorable creatures that fill your heart and home with love and fun. However, you’ll have to closely look after them and record any suspicious behavior that might be the consequence of a health problem, like our recent article shows. Eating grass seems like a habit for most dogs, regardless of their age, weight, and breed and doesn’t always indicate a certain health affection as some owners might think.
Having a dog as your companion comes with great satisfaction and responsibilities at the same time. Looking after its health includes regular visits to the vet, an active lifestyle, and healthy food. However, you will also have to learn to communicate with your dog and understand some of its reactions that might indicate a certain type of behavior.
For instance, a bad chewing habit is often linked to pups growing their teeth but can also indicate a feeling of boredom or some kind of punishment for the owner. Aggressive behavior is commonly found in rescued dogs and shows signs of previous abuse but could also mean that your dog is more territorial.
As for eating grass, this common habit has been observed in dogs of all breeds, ages, and gender, as well as in wild dogs. Let’s find out more about this intriguing behavior and see if there is anything you should be worried about.
What is pica?
Pica is the technical term given to a disorder that involves eating objects and things that aren’t food. Out of all the weird things your dog might chew on, grass is one of the most common and is even considered completely natural by some specialists.
But this doesn’t mean that dogs only consume grass. On the contrary, a small-scale study conducted on 49 dogs has revealed that many other plants might look appealing to your pet, although grass remains the popular choice.
Why do dogs eat grass?
As we previously mentioned, there is a series of reasons for which dogs prefer eating grass, every once in a while. Some people say that you may see your pet interested in your lawn because it doesn’t feel well and looks for a way to vomit. However, other people question this hypothesis claiming that dogs aren’t smart enough to decide on their own that grass might help them with an upset stomach.
After many studies conducted, it was revealed that fewer than 10% of dogs are actually sick before eating grass, while only a quarter of those who eat it vomit after grazing.
Other reasons might include treating intestinal worms, improving digestion, and even fulfilling some unmet dietary needs, like the one for fiber. Of course, there is also a possibility that your dog just likes the way grass tastes or feels.
Should you put an end to your pet’s habit of eating grass?
As with so many reasons behind your animal’s need for eating grass, it’s hard to tell whether or not this habit is beneficial.
If you suspect your pooch might be eating grass out of pure boredom, you should try to spend more time with it and increase the frequency of exercising. Not only the desire for eating grass will stop but you will also fight obesity and overweight problems, as well as improve the bond with your pet.
Keep in mind that dogs are active creatures, and this is why they should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, even more, depending on the breed and age.
If your pet’s pica behavior is caused by an unbalanced diet, you should switch to better food, preferably made with organic ingredients, without empty calories from corn, wheat, and soy.
Make sure the number one ingredient in your pet’s food, dry or moist, is crude protein, with a percentage of at least 25%. Other beneficial ingredients can include potatoes, rice, fruits, and veggies. They are packed with natural antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, supporting the immune system and promoting stronger teeth, muscles, and bones.
Don’t forget that your pet also needs a few grams of fibers daily to promote a healthy digestive system and ensure good stools. Beans, legumes, bananas, oranges, apples, berries, and mangoes are rich in natural fibers.
If you suspect your dog eats grass to improve its health or get rid of worms, you might have to consult a vet. Run some full tests and see if there is a real health problem you should be concerned about.
Is grass dangerous to your pet?
Although most cases of pica didn’t indicate negative effects for most dogs, there are still some aspects that should be taken into account. Grazing itself isn’t harmful as long as it is done on your lawn. The main concern behind pooches eating grass is that it could be toxic due to the herbicides and pesticides used. If ingested, all these chemical substances enter your dog’s body, causing allergic reactions or health problems.
Besides, several house and garden plants are toxic, which could lead to further health problems, especially in the long term.
We strongly recommend watching your pet closely and preventing it from eating grass from public places such as parks. You should also keep an eye on your dog if it’s eating grass off your lawn and notice if there are any negative reactions like vomiting, bloating or diarrhea.
How to properly look after your dog
If you want to make sure your pet is living the high life, you should take into consideration some key-aspects such as diet, lifestyle, human interaction, and sleeping.
Apart from the regular visits to the vet, looking after a dog requires most of your spare time, energy, and budget. This means that you are fully responsible for your pet’s weight, health, and lifestyle.
We already mentioned that diet plays an important role in your dog’s life as it ensures the necessary elements for a strong body and immune system.
Organic dog food might be more expensive but it is the only way you can ensure your pawed friend stays away from chemicals, GMOs, and pesticides. Make sure your pet has access to a clean source of water to stay hydrated, especially during the hot summer days.
When it comes to feeding habits, each dog is different. However, if you want to raise a disciplined animal that doesn’t have any obesity or overweight problems, forget about feeding it once a day. Based on its weight, age, and breed, your pet should receive anywhere between 2 and 4 meals a day.
If you can’t commit to feeding your pooch at regular hours, it would be best to invest in an automatic dog feeder that dispenses the right amount of kibbles for each meal. Don’t forget that your pet’s diet should be based on both dry and wet food, preferably home-cooked dishes without added preservatives, artificial flavors, refined sugars, salt, and spices.
Some human foods, although delicious, shouldn’t be fed to your dog either as they can cause severe allergic reactions and health problems. These include raw eggs, raisins, Macadamia nuts, avocado, garlic, grapes, chocolate, and others.
The same goes for alcohol, sweets, caffeine, and xylitol (often found in foods and dental products such as mouthwash, toothpaste, chewing gum, jellies, cereals, baked goods, peanut butter, sugar-free candies, and breath mints, fruit drinks, etc.).
If you want your dog to live a long and healthy life, you should also spend more time with it and encourage it to exercise regularly.
The best way for both of you to stay in shape is to take your pet for a long walk in the park or for half an hour of jogging every morning. Running, playing frisbee, hiking, and any other outdoor activity that involves moving is beneficial for your pet as it will keep its weight under control and help it have a healthy appetite.
And, if the weather doesn’t allow you to spend too much time outside, there are plenty of ways to have fun with your pet indoors. Play hide and seek to strengthen the bond between you and your goofball or teach it small tricks.
Your bedroom treadmill is a great option for your pet to burn some calories and lose a couple of pounds if needed, so don’t be afraid to use it whenever the weather outside is unfriendly.