No one really knows why dogs eat grass. Theories range from behaviour to nutrient deficiencies to illness or simply because they like it. Read on to find out more about why your pooch prefers the green stuff.
Speak to most dog owners and they’ll tell you that their dogs eat grass. Both my dogs, a Labrador and small terrier-type mutt, do. Some dogs even have a preference for the type of grass they eat.
IS IT SAFE?
We do know it’s absolutely safe for dogs to graze in moderation, unless of course the grass has recently been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. If your grazing pup vomits straight after swallowing, and does so often, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue so best to have him checked out by your vet.
Our domesticated pooches are descendants of scavengers so it’s only natural for them to eat a lot of what they come across in the garden, including grass.
Some dogs can become excessive grass eaters, especially if they suffer from anxiety and other behavioural issues. In these cases, get in touch with an animal behaviourist for some advice on how to correct this behaviour.
Although dogs need a high proportion of their diet to come from meat, they are quite omnivorous. Their wild ancestors would usually eat their entire prey, including the stomach contents that would contain grass and other plant material. So it makes sense that our dogs may fancy some greenery from time to time. Your Kikuyu grass, being the closest herbage at hand, makes for the perfect snack.
If your pooch is fed on a premium dog food like Eukanuba or Royal Canin, then you won’t need to worry about whether they are getting adequate nutrition; they’re covered. It doesn’t mean they won’t still nibble on your lawn but you can rest assured that they are not eating it because the body is craving an essential nutrient missing from their diet.
Another theory is that the tickle of the grass in a dog’s throat when being swallowed induces vomiting. Dogs have figured this out, so they start grazing when their tummies aren’t feeling great or if they have to get rid of something nasty they ate. This is a monthly occurrence in our household, and something fellow Labrador owners will understand!
As long as Fido isn’t vomiting often, seems to be feeling fine, and is eating normally, then all should be well. The stats say that only 25% of dogs will vomit after eating grass anyway.
Moderate grass consumption isn’t harmful to dogs and can provide some benefits: Whether it’s to provide a little extra fibre, vitamins and minerals, to purge themselves or simply that dogs like the taste, it’s safe. However, if you notice a sudden increase in the amount of grass your pup eats or tummy upsets then it would be worth a trip to the vet.
If it makes them happy I say: ‘Let them eat grass!’
Editor’s note: Kefir for pet health
Kefir grain originated in the Caucasus Mountains in western Russia where it was discovered that in its fermented form it worked as a natural remedy for digestive complaints and a compromised immune system. Kefir contains many different strains of bacteria that act as probiotics to help balance your inner ecosystem. Kefir grains rather resemble cauliflower florets that must be added to milk – dairy, almond or coconut – to ferment.
What may come as a surprise is that your dog or cat can benefit from kefir as much as you can. When you see your dog eating grass and are concerned this indicates tummy trouble or a nutrient deficiency, such as a lack of vitamins or minerals, you can rely on kefir to set things straight. In addition to friendly bacteria, kefir contains vitamins B1, B12 and vitamin K as well as minerals and essential amino acids that promote healing. Kefir may improve dairy-related lactose intolerance as the fermentation process produces lactase that is required by the body to break down lactose. Kefir is also a potent detoxifier and can help curb those springtime allergies. Don’t hesitate to add kefir to your canine care routine.
Small size dogs or cats: 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Medium size dogs: 1 to 2 tbsp Large dogs: 2 to 3 tbsp