Dog Tummy Aches: A Big Pain In the Grass
Do you ever notice your ravenous little fur babe eating grass? It's not as strange as you may think. The term for it, pica, is characterized by eating anything other than food. Most people perceive eating grass is a dog's attempt to relieve a tummy ache. However, nutritional deficiency, boredom, and even natural tendency are other reasons your dog may be grazin' away. Even dogs in the wild have been observed doing so, and it appears some are simply fond of the taste. When 49 dogs were studied and provided easy access to grass + plants, 79% of them were observed eating it.
You may wonder why suddenly your dog has decided to eat grass, especially if he/she is older and has never done so before. We often immediately focus on the dog's change in behavior when, in fact, we need to consider our own. Have you been working, traveling, or away from home more than usual? Have you added a new pet or family member to the house? Have you changed your dog's diet or been giving more table scraps than usual? Have you treated your yard with chemicals recently? We often fail to recognize how much our day-to-day decisions impact the lives and the health of our dependent fur babies. Keeping that in mind, evaluate if your dog has experienced a change in surroundings, diet, activity level, amount of attention, or sleep schedule.
If you suspect your dog is bored, consider adding more exercise to his/her daily routine. You can also try an interactive toy, but legitimate physical activity is always ideal. If the level of activity and attention are not the concern, evaluate your dog's diet to ensure adequate nutrition, more specifically, fiber. Research done by a University in South Korea suggests that deficient fiber relates to the plant-eating behavior of a dog. The evidence relies upon the clinical findings of a miniature poodle that ate grass and vomited regularly for seven years! Once the owner put the pup on a high-fiber diet (real confused about why it took seven freakin' years before doing this, but that's beside the point), the behavior stopped almost immediately. To increase the amount of fiber in a dog's diet, consider giving a plant-based treat, adding cooked veggies to his/her diet, or switching dog foods entirely.
At the end of the day, a dog grass grazin' is rather typical behavior and nothing to rush to the emergency animal hospital. Determining the cause is where the significance lies. It is also critical to ensure your dog is not ingesting toxic pesticides that may be on the grass. Some fertilizers can cause a mildly upset stomach, while some insecticides can be deathly.
On a brighter note, here is my baby, Denim, trying to eat grass + flowers, not due to any of the legitimate reasons mentioned above, but simply because he knows he is the most handsomest puppers in all the lands and likes to mack his game on all the lady pups at the park. :)
If you have any additional information, personal experiences, or questions regarding animals eating grass or pets & lawn products, please comment below! One insightful comment might prevent that random dog mom, Rebecca, who lives eight states away, from buying the same cheap toxic commercial fertilizer that killed your precious Benji 4 years ago. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, post a comment - spread awareness, help educate, and potentially save some precious pup's life. :)