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In the first few days of spring, when the lawn starts growing in big leafy clumps, my dog Avon has a habit of going out back and eating mass quantities of fresh green dewy grass. In wolves it is suggested that grass might help scour out internal parasites, which should not be a problem for a properly cared for pet dog being maintained on preventative medication and having their stool analyzed at an annual veterinary health check.
It is also possible that eating a diverse range of non-toxic foods is a natural way to avoid deficiencies in trace vitamins and minerals.
One case study from Japan in 2007 found that particularly obsessive grass eating by a Poodle was brought under control by providing the dog with a higher-fiber diet.
The only thing that seems to reliably increase grass eating is if the dog is more hungry, which another study revealed.
And dogs eat more grass if a particularly tasty species of grass is available, which leads me to speculate that if dogs have any grass-eating impulses at all, the cultivated parks and lawns of the suburbs might provide a tempting over-supply. So if grass eating is at worse benign, and possibly beneficial, it might even be something to encourage in moderation. My conclusion is this: I certainly need to ensure my dogs stay away from toxic plants or areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals. But I would be interested in hearing whether anyone else has found that grass eating was a sign that led them to discover their dog had bigger problems or different dietary needs.
About the author: Emily Kane is a New Zealand-born animal behaviorist of the throw-back radical behaviorist type, albeit with a holistic-yuppie-feminist-slacker twist.
Armed with this information, owners can then present their findings to their veterinarians. Normally the vet will start with the least invasive test and move on to more expensive, more invasive tests as needed (which will depend on the severity of the symptoms). Few grass-eaters are likely to have ever suffered an exploratory laparoscopy to surgically look into the contents of an abdomen and biopsy the gastrointestinal tract, but severe symptoms could theoretically lead a veterinarian to decide this is the best approach. Most dog owners have probably seen their canine friend graze on grass at one point or another.
If a dog is experiencing one of these problems, you may see it frantically wanting to get out of the house. The grass causes gastric irritation that leads to vomiting, which helps the dog feel better afterward, the theory holds. In a 2008 study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, researchers found that while grass consumption didn't often lead to vomiting, dogs that seemed ill before eating grass were more likely to vomit than dogs that appeared to act normally beforehand. In this scenario, the dog may even be seeking out grass to get additional nutrients it may not have in its normal diet, such as fiber, minerals or digestive enzymes.
Wolves and other wild canids are known to regularly eat plant matter, suggesting dogs' grass-eating behavior is innate and perfectly normal. If you notice that your dog is eating grass, he is trying to settle his stomach so that he is able to throw up and feel better.


Depending on how active your dog is, their bones go through a lot of wear and tear and need to consistently be revitalized.
We know that wolves and other wild canines eat grass, according to a study in 2006, as do large cats and many other wild carnivores. But the motivation to perform this historically healthy behavior might still remain even when the reason for it is gone. An instinct that might remain helpful, even for dogs now living on ostensibly nutritionally complete commercial diets. Which suggests that dogs might have a need for roughage that a lot of diets may not meet, not just because of parasites but to maintain healthy function in the gut. Which makes me wonder if the grass-munching Poodle really needed more fiber specifically, or if it was just the comfort of a full gut cutting down his hunger pangs. This abundance, especially in spring, might lead to excessive consumption and perhaps to the barf-y results sometimes exhibited by dogs like Avon.
A planter of sweet oats (aka cat grass) gives my dogs something to snack on when they are alone in the apartment, and they seem to enjoy it. But the bottom line seems to be that eating grass is normal and not known to be related to any type of illness or nutritional deficiency.
The goal is to figure out if it is a sign of a minor ailment, a more serious disease, or nothing more than normal albeit slightly eccentric behavior.
For many pets who want to sample the lawn, the prescription may be to let them go right ahead. A few theories exist to explain this seemingly odd behavior, though no answer is definitive.
Like humans, dogs can suffer from gastrointestinal issues including upset stomach, nausea, bloating and illness from pathogenic microbes. Once out, it will chow down on any grass available, taking large bites and often swallowing the plants whole.
In such cases, a dog may appear to hunt for a specific type of plant, rather than ingesting any grass it can find. A 2007 case study in the Journal of Veterinary Medical Science reported that a switch to a high-fiber diet stopped a miniature poodle from regularly eating grass.
Indeed, a 2009 dog study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that puppies were more likely to eat grass if their mothers did while nursing. Your pets are a part of your family so when they become ill it can be devastating to the entire family.
Dirty diapers, spoiled food, or other items in the trash that could give your pet a serious tummy ache. And during the spring and summer both of my dogs like to stop and grab a few mouthfuls of grass on their morning walk.


So most researchers assume that dogs have inherited their occasional taste for salad from their wolf ancestors, making it a normal and natural behavior not a side effect of some modern neurosis.
After all, it is impossible to know every single tiny element that might benefit the canine body, let alone provide it in every meal.
And having ready access seems to reduce their desire to grab huge qualities of grass when they are out on their walks. So, in the absence of any other worrying symptoms, you can let your dog enjoy his grazing without worrying that it is a cry for help. Her early dog-related education came from Jess the Afghan Hound and Border Collies Bandit and Tam. Just make sure the grass is not treated with any chemicals that could be harmful if your pet eats them. His work covers all areas of science, from the quirky mating behaviors of different animals, to the drug and alcohol habits of ancient cultures, to new advances in solar cell technology.
But some people say that dogs only eats grass because they are feeling unwell, so I wondered whether I should be worried about their grazing habits.
Since the planter was installed there has been no grass barfing, which I for one appreciate. It is now being continued by her own dogs and extended dog family and some cats (and her three aquatic snails Gala, Granny and Pippin — they think of themselves as dog-esque). It could be something as simple as your dog eating his food too quickly or something more serious such as a bacterial infection or intestinal parasites. However, if they are sick for much longer, they could become dehydrated and you should take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. It greatly improves the fluid in the joints as well as protects the lining of the cartilage in your pet keeping his bones healthy and strong. Nor did the surveyed dog owners observe that their dogs seek out grass when they were unwell, or that they vomit after eating it. Whether your dog is vomiting or in visibly in pain, there are things that you can do to make it easier on your pet and your family.
Which does not tally with the popular theory that dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach, perhaps with the goal of causing vomiting.



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