As a pet owner, it's always concerning when you find your dog eating something other than pet food or dog treats, and grass is no exception. Even if your dog is well fed, they may still munch on grass blades when you take them outside. It's a common behavior among all breeds, with statistics showing that nearly 79% of canines have eaten grass at least once during their lives. So, why do dogs eat grass, and is it bad for their health?
To Induce Vomiting
One common theory is that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. If your dog has an unset stomach – something that happens to all dogs at some point or another – perhaps they will eat grass to induce vomiting and rid their stomach of whatever is causing the indigestion. Many owners report seeing their dog vomit after eating grass, reinforcing this theory.
With that said, research shows this isn't always the case. According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California Davis, only 22% of dogs vomited after eating grass. Researchers also found that only 8% of dogs exhibited symptoms of illness before eating grass.
To Gain Nutrients
Your dog may be eating grass to supplement his diet with nutrients and vitamins. While grass doesn't offer the same nutritional value as high-quality kibble, it still contains small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, iron, selenium, riboflavin and more. If your dog lacks these nutrients in his diet, perhaps this is the reason for his grass-eating behavior.
With that said, grass is mostly fiber. Therefore, the aforementioned nutrients will mostly pass through your dog's digestion system without ever being absorbed. Your dog may still gain some nutrients from grass, but it pales in comparison to the nutritional value of kibble.
Another theory is that dogs eat grass because it's hardwired in their DNA. Modern-day dogs are 99.8% genetically the same as their ancesterol wolves. In the wild, their wolf ancestors would eat rabbits, squirrels and other grass-eating animals. Therefore, wolves would inadvertently consume grass. Perhaps this behavior has been passed down to dogs from their ancestors.
Is Grass Bad for Dogs?
In most cases, grass is completely harmless to dogs. However, you should closely monitor your dog to ensure he doesn't eat pesticide, herbicide or other harmful chemicals. Some owners even create organic gardens of grass specifically for their dogs. While you don't have to necessarily take such extreme precautions, keep a watchful eye on your canine companion to ensure he doesn't get into any harmful chemicals or toxins.
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