Why do dogs eat grass?


Ingesting plants helps the dog to return and expel foreign objects from his stomach, but also denotes some behavioral disorders

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Last update: February 26, 2018

Eight out of ten dogs eat grass, if they have access to it. However, this behavior is not surprising to those who witness it. Why can the dog eat grass? To answer this question, it may serve as a clue to know that the wolf also ingests plants. However, this habit is not exempt from dangers for the dog and can even reveal some behavioral problems. Next, all the data about this uniqueness of canine behavior is given.

Why does the dog eat grass?

A behavior that catches the attention of dog owners is that their friend, a supposed carnivore, gladly devours filaments of grass and other green herbs I find in its path. "Dogs eat plants because it helps them to regurgitate or vomit and, therefore, to clean their stomachs," explains canine nutritionist Carlos Alberto Gutierrez.

Eight out of ten dogs eat grass if they have access to it

For a dog that has access to fresh herbs on a regular basis, it is not uncommon to ingest plants. A study cited by the scientific digital magazine Webmd, specialized in health, collects that eight out of ten dogs do it or, at least, they have done it sporadically. And among all the plants it takes, the preferred one is, unanimously, the grass.

Stomach aches sometimes explain this common behavior in dogs. "A can ingests grass when you suffer from discomfort or a disease in the stomach"says veterinarian Adrián Aguilera, or because try to return when "you have ingested a foreign objectlike a stone, a ball or trash, "he adds.

But, Why does the grass induce vomiting in the animal? "It acts as an irritant substance of the stomach wall: it increases the secretion of acids and the thickness of the digestive wall and, in the end, flows into vomit," says Aguilera. Act like a gastritis enhancer.

The wolf also ingests grass in nature

The fact that a dog ingests grass does not imply that its diet is unbalanced

In any case, the herb can help the dog incorporate some nutrients and minerals into its diet. But, above all, it provides fiber, says the nutritionist. "That does not mean, however, that the dog is poorly fed or that it lacks some essential nutrient in its diet," Gutierrez adds. It occurs even in animals that follow a balanced canine diet.

For this specialist, the behavior of ingesting plants is more related to a evolutionary habit, inherited from his ancestor, the wolf. "Like the wolf, the dog does not rule out that after eating he can spend two or three days without eating more food than the herbs he finds," he explains.

The fact that the dog that eats grass does it on a frequent basis, Gutierrez adds, supposes a "slight food addiction, although not serious. "In medical jargon it is called pica, that is, a fondness for eating foreign matter, such as soil, or licking surfaces, such as walls. This group includes the act of chewing grass.

Dangers of eating grass for the dog

Although eating grass does not have to be a serious problem in a healthy dog, certain precautions should be taken. An animal that tries to cause vomiting to expel a foreign body may end up aggravating the problem itself. "Most of the time it is counterproductive, since it only gets provoke gastritis"says Aguilera. If a dog with stomach ache ingests grass, only manages to complicate your problem.

On other occasions, the danger of chewing vegetables may be more related to the presence of fertilizers in the grass. If the plants are not owned by the owner, he will not be able to know if they have been sprayed with insecticides or with other chemicals, so there is a risk that the dog become poisoned or intoxicated.

Behavior problems in dogs that eat grass

Experts agree that eating grass is often a food pathology for the dog, although of a mild nature. The boredom of the dog can explain, in some occasions, this type of behavior. But, in other cases, the origin of the problem may be deeper.

"The fact that a dog eats grass may imply that it has some basic problem, which has gone unnoticed," says veterinarian Adrián Aguilera. Can reveal that the animal has had access to garbage -An unhealthy behavior-, that does not tolerate any of the ingredients of your usual meal or even that plays with inappropriate objects.

In any case, Aguilera points out, it is appropriate to go to a veterinarian or canine ethologist to help detect these possible conflicts. "And above all, we have to prevent our dog from eating grass, since it does not solve the problem," he concludes.

Why do dogs eat grass?

The consumption of grass and plants is a common practice in domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). Unlike cats, which are exclusively carnivorous, dogs are able to take advantage of certain nutrients from fruits and vegetables recommended for dogs.

We should know that vegetable consumption is also frequent in wild canids. This is evidenced by observing the composition of their feces, which contain between 11 and 47% of plant debris. They ingest semi-digested food from the stomach of their prey, mostly herbivorous animals. All this added to domestication, has favored the dog to be able to assimilate This type of food is getting better and better. However, since it is raw, dogs cannot digest grass completely.

So why do dogs eat grass? Some hypotheses relate this behavior to the canine physiology itself, which is satisfied with some of the nutrients present in the forage, grass or fiber.

The most recent studies that we have consulted show that this behavior is directly related to satiety, that is, that the dog usually eats grass When have hungry. On the contrary, when you have a full stomach, grass consumption is less frequent. Thus, the first reason suggests that dogs can see on the grass a food source.

But in addition, the grass turns out very useful for purging of intestinal parasites in wild canids. Fibrous matter, present in grass and plants, increases intestinal contractions, also involving worms that may be infecting the animal.

It is likely that dogs can feel attracted to taste of grass or certain herbs, as well as by habit of chewing it and ingest it. On the other hand, some dogs can also develop an obsessive and stereotyped behavior related to grass chewing, although it is very rare.

Finally, and as a curiosity, we can point out that dogs that have direct access to the grass usually spend a minimum of three minutes a day to consume it and that young dogs are the ones that do it most frequently.

False myths

While we have commented that dogs can look for certain nutrients in fruits and vegetables, it is not true that it is related to nutritional deficiencies. The dogs studied, whether or not they had a diet supplemented with fruit and vegetables, consumed practically the same amount of grass.

On the other hand, other false myths suggest that the dog eat grass to vomitHowever, only 8% of the animals studied vomited. It is also not true that those dogs are sick or with stomach ache, because all the dogs that presented themselves to the study were healthy and free of parasites.

My dog ​​eats grass, is it bad?

Now that you know why dogs eat grass, you may wonder if it is good for a dog to eat grass regularly and if it can cause health problems. As we have told you, the dog eat pasta is a behavior totally normal and acceptable. In no case should it be considered a problem of behavior that we must suppress.

To prevent certain health problems that may occur after the consumption of grass from public spaces, such as the transmission of parasites or viral diseases, it may be interesting to place a grass pot, so that the dog can consume it freely and safely.

Likewise, we will carry out regular veterinary reviews, we will follow the schedule of vaccines for dogs and the periodic deworming to detect, prevent and treat any health problem.

But also, after reviewing a study conducted by Advance on intestinal parasitosis of the dog and the use of herbs in the diet, we observe that the natural treatment It can offer numerous advantages. They are safe, do not leave hazardous waste, create less resistance, are sustainable and have an ecological base.

Here are some of the herbs benefits that have been studied:

  • Garlic (Allium sativum) and cayenne pepper (Capsicum minimum): have important antibacterial properties.
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): helps protect against mites.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): It is very effective against intestinal parasites.

Other plants studied were cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), the gardener's love (Galium aparine), mint (Mentha piperita), elm (Ulmus rubra), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), quasia of Jamaica (Picrasma excelsa) and nettle (Dioecious urtica).

Of course the use of these products should always be offered in specific and safe quantities, always prescribed by a veterinarian.

Also discover in ExpertAnimal more about the use of garlic to deworm dogs and cats.

What do I do if my dog ​​eats grass with herbic>

There are situations of risk, for example when the dog eats grass that has been treated with pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. In these cases, the consumption of grass can be very harmful and even lethal. Some alarm signals may be when the dog eats grass and vomits with blood.

Suspecting a dog poisoned by pesticide we must go to the vet urgently. The professional will evaluate the state of health of the dog and will follow the procedure that he considers most appropriate to treat the clinical picture, which will depend directly on the substance. We will explain any symptoms we have been able to observe, such as that the dog eats grass and poops with blood, and we will try to offer you all the possible information, such as what the ingested product has been.

Also, if you are very worried about the health of your best friend, we advise you to review our article on first aid in poisoned dogs to know what to do while you go to the veterinary hospital.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do dogs eat grass?, we recommend that you enter our Curiosities section of the animal world.

An ancestral 'vice'

In general, veterinarians agree> 80% of dogs usually eat sprouts Tender from time to time and this behavior may be due to various circumstances. The first, and less worrisome, is that they simply seek to be supplemented with additional fiber or minerals.

Although they already have a properly balanced diet, it is quite common for dogs to eat the tender shoots of grasses when they discover them, it is a kind of genetic impulse inherited from the wolf, which does have this custom because of the natural uncertainty about when it will find a prey to devour. In this sense, the intake of grass in the dog can be an inherited remainder of its ancestor.

In this case, the habit has no greater problem than to monitor that the grass that our dog is branching is known> pesticides or herbicides that could cause poisoning.

Veterinarian and nutritionist Carlos Alberto Gutierrez explains that there are several theories about the benefits of the herb for dogs: "They say it is a way to deworm, but without a doubt [the herbs] contribute to the enrichment and food of a dog's microbiota, on the other hand, they say they do it to ingest fiber. "

According to Gutierrez, this herb, in one way or another, serves to cleanse your digestive system: "Some vomit it, which is not serious, and others defecate it, in both cases it travels the digestive system to the mouth or the anus with a 'sweeping' effect.

Eye with the grass as a purgative

Precisely this last consequence, the vomit, is what some dogs usually look for when suddenly they start to eat grass compulsively. The reason is that some food or something they have swallowed has made them feel bad and is causing them digestive discomfort. Therefore, also instinctively, they eat grass to irritate the stomach walls, increase the secretion of vomiting. that ejects the element that has made them feel bad.

As many dogs are authentic vacuum cleaners, it is normal that from time to time they show this behavior because we have to> worry. It is possible that in this case our dog is suffering from a gastric problem that has gone unnoticed and that is in danger of becoming chronic.

In this case we must go to a veterinarian to observe you or advise us to change my mind, since the current one may not be lime> feed dogs, since being such a poor diet, devoid of so many elements that are present in fresh foods, they come out as vacuum cleaners in search of nutrients. "

Eventually, we must be alert for more serious diseases. "Many dogs that we call 'destroyers' and that swallow everything they find, grass included, in addition to the lousy and poor food they receive through feed - no matter how 'premium' they may be, can be digestive or sick immunomediated, "explains Gutierrez.

Reasons why dogs eat grass

The intake of grass or other plant plants by our dogs may be due to several factors, among which are the ones detailed below. Remember that dogs have natural survival instincts, so if you see them eating grass, don't scold them, since they will have their motive.

    Poor digestion: If our dog has a bad digestion, stomach pain, it has com>

Is it bad for dogs to eat grass?

Not at all. Your instincts are what tell you when you should eat grass and even what kind of grass to eat. Surely if you have been a bit observant, you will have noticed that dogs do not eat any weed (except when they look for vomiting), but rather they look for tender shoots or specific areas to eat.

Despite what some poorly informed people insist on saying…. eating grass is not harmful to our dogs at all. Although we must take some precautions, such as preventing them from eating grass that has been treated with pesticides (fumigated), or that they do so compulsively on an ongoing basis (seeking to vomit day after day).

If your dog only eats grass to vomit, day after day, it is because he suffers some type of pain in the stomach or digestive system. You should go to a veterinarian to examine it as it may have a problem of viral origin or have eaten something that it should not and cannot digest (or has become stuck in your digestive system).

If your dog eats grass by hobby, on a regular basis but does not vomit, you should not worry at all. It is a very common habit in dogs (80% of dogs eat grass regularly), they do it as a food supplement.

Do not scold your dog for eating grass, simply check that it does not eat grass that has been fumigated to prevent it from ingesting the fumigation poisons. On the other hand we must be careful that our dog does not eat any toxic plants for him, since he could get sick.

My dog ​​eats grass and then vomits

As we have indicated, this is something completely normal in the canine world. If our dog has gut pain, a bad digestion, he has eaten something he cannot digest such as a piece of ball, stick, plastic, etc ... It is very likely that he will start eating grass (any type of grass or plants) to self- vomiting

It is something natural, it is the way to purge and relieve pain. We must be careful that when vomiting is not choked with what is vomiting (a piece of stick or ball for example). We should not do anything. Just observe it to make sure it vomits without problems.

If our dog continues to do this for more than two or three continuous days, we must go to the veterinarian for examination. Since it can also be due to a digestive disease that causes pain or a poor nutritional plan (poor quality or inadequate feed).

My dog ​​eats grass but does not vomit

Most likely, it is simply a dietary habit, a way to add a little more fiber and nutrients to your diet. This does not mean that we are feeding it badly, simply that the herb contains certain elements that the dog adds to its daily diet.

We should not give importance or scold our dog, eating grass is something completely common in the canine world.

Sometimes, when there is no water to drink and the grass is cool, put the morning dew or raindrops, dogs eat grass to quench their thirst. There are many reasons why a dog can eat grass / grass on a regular basis, but as you have seen, none of them is harmful to the dog.

Scolding a dog for eating grass is a mistake. Their primary instincts are much wiser than the wrong knowledge of many people.