Have you ever noticed your dog eating grass and wondered why? It seems innocent, but is it really good for them?
If we take a look at the evolution of the canine, dogs descended from wild canids, wolves and foxes, and history says that typically they would eat their whole prey. This included the stomach of their prey which contained plants and berries, and may in fact be why our pooches today don’t mind a bit of grass in their diet and why some people choose to feed their dog an evolutionary based diet.
Another theory suggests that dogs eat grass because their prepared diets are lacking in greens. One piece of evidence that supports this contention is the fact that dogs sometimes seek out a particular variety of grass to nibble.
Other people say dogs eat grass because they are sick or they are trying to fulfil unmet nutritional needs. But let’s not eliminate the possibility of dogs eating grass merely because they like it!
There are a few good reasons here, all with compelling arguments but is there a confirmed universal reason? No, it seems not, and unfortunately our dogs can’t tell us themselves.
It is frustrating to not have a definite answer about this odd behaviour, but what’s important here is how our dogs digest the grass and how we treat it/ control it if necessary. Note: For some pooches, eating grass doesn’t have any repercussions, whilst for others it does. (Yes, we’re talking about you @dynamitedarcy!).
Like all living creatures, dogs need a combination of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water in a balanced diet that provides enough calories to meet their daily needs. Plant material such as grass could include beneficial nutrients and dietary components that supplement their existing diet.
However, as good as grass seems as a plant source, a lot of lawns are treated with fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides and these can be very harmful to your pooch.
Also, if your dog’s stomach doesn’t seem to digest grass well, you’ll be able to tell. There may be some vomiting and bad poop. A solution to this is to try including some non toxic and nutritionally beneficial raw vegetables and fruits into your dog’s diet and, if they’re a frequent muncher like Darcy, buy them a new, non toxic chew toy to keep them preoccupied and less likely to nibble on grass when bored.
If your pooch seems to digest grass just fine, make sure the grass is safe for them to eat (no chemicals) and control the amount of grass your pooch is eating like
anything. Even though they say there’s never too much of a good thing…there is!
Especially if your pooch is like Darcy (sometimes I wonder if he is reincarnated cow!) who can get a bit carried away sniffing out the different strands of grass before settling in for a good grazing session. This is despite it sometimes causing him to vomit and clearly not digesting in his system before making its way to the other end.. if you know what I mean?
So this brings us full circle to the question, why does my dog eat grass?
Since Darcy is fed an evolutionary based raw food diet which includes grass and vegetable matter, and is in good health and shows no signs of feeling unwell before he starts his grass degustation dining, it does seem that in his case he simply just enjoys the whole experience of cleansing his palate with fresh blades of green grass. But, I guess I’ll never really know!
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog walking, dog minding and dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.