Although eating grass may seem like normal dog behavior, it can be an indication of an underlying health issue of some sort. Here is a list of what may be contributing to your dog’s grass eating habits.
Upset stomach – Eating plants is a habit that has been observed in many animal species, especially with domesticated dogs and wolves. Many veterinarians reveal that dogs eat grass when they have an inflamed stomach, as it is a strategy that may induce vomiting. However, there is still much research to be done, and researchers hypothesize that grass consumption may have unknown biological benefits as well.
Anxiety – dogs may also eat grass for psychological reasons. Eating grass may serve as a mental stimulation or coping mechanism for dogs going through mental health issues, so it’s important to look for symptoms that may indicate a possibility of anxiety. Common indicators of anxiety in pets are constant instances of drooling, shaking, whining, panting, excessive barking, destructive behavior, and many more. Pet anxiety can be treated through modifying behavior and environments or prescribing medication and supplements, but it’s best to inquire with your veterinarian before diagnosing the cause.
Pica – Your dog’s grass eating behaviors may be a sign of Pica, a medical behavioral condition. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine reveals that Pica is the constant consumption of nutrient deficient substances, despite its lack of physical benefit. It is deemed as one of the most common behavioral issues in dogs. While Pica may not seem harmful, it has been proven to cause many health issues, such as dental problems, poisoning, and gastrointestinal blockage.
Seeking attention – Just because you see your pet eating grass does not mean there is any immediate health issue. Oftentimes, dogs like the attention they receive from their owners, and will go about a variety of ways getting it. Dogs are extremely intelligent creatures. If they see larger reactions from you or others after performing a certain action, they are more likely to continue doing it in the future. If this persists, consider seeking medical advice on how best to train your dog to avoid this habit.
Nutritional factors – Like humans, it is important for a dog to maintain a proper diet. If they aren’t fed a correct balance of nutrients, they can and will find other sources of food such as grass. Their instincts lead them to grass for its fibrous content, especially since the most common domesticated dog diets include only about 2-4% fiber when the required intake is upwards of 5%! If you suspect your dog is malnutritioned, speak with a professional about creating a plan to restore their natural health.