Is your puppy eating grass? Is your puppy having a penchant for green leaves? If so, you might be thinking if this is normal or not.
Your concern is not misplaced. Your canine fella is not a goat or a lamb so you must be worried, scratching your head and wondering can puppies really eat grass. Why do puppies eat grass? Is it ok for puppies to eat grass?
Well, you are not alone. Almost every second dog owner is worried about his/her puppy eating grass or some other strange behavior of their canine companions.
There are many unusual things that puppies do, which leave dog owners in awe, trying to understand if it is normal behavior, why they are doing it, and how to stop them from repeating this strange behavior if it is not good for them.
Well, if the strange behavior is grass-eating, you are in the right place. In this blog, we will explore why do puppies eat grass, is it dangerous for them, and how can you effectively stop them from eating grass.
Why Do Puppies Eat Grass?
Puppies eating grass is not an uncommon sight. If you are a dog parent, you must have caught them munching grass once or twice. After being perplexed by this seemingly unusual grass-eating behavior of dogs, many veterinarians are now considering it normal. According to a survey, 79% of the dogs that had regular access to grass or other plants were caught grazing at some time.
It is widely considered by vets and dog owners that puppies eating grass is a form of pica. Pica is a technical term for eating disorders in animals that are characterized by the consumption of things that do not make up their diet. It is often attributed to their nutrient-deficient diet.
However, when you are providing a balanced diet to your puppy, eating grass might not be related to nutrient deficiency. So why do they eat grass then?
1. For Self-Medication
Eating grass does not usually result in vomiting, especially in puppies that have been grazing regularly. However, when dogs eat grass occasionally, it may result in vomiting. Many veterinarians and dog owners have come to believe that when feeling nauseous, dogs eat grass as a natural emetic to induce vomiting. They usually eat grass after eating something that was not good for their tummy. The long strands of grass tickle that prompt regurgitation and eventually dogs end up spewing whatever was upsetting their stomach.
2. Grass Tastes good
If all the nutritional needs of your puppy are being met and they are not vomiting after consuming grass, your puppy must be enjoying the flavor and texture of grass. After being domesticated, dogs have been receiving a very limited diet as compared to their fellow canine relatives. In addition to grass, there are many fruits and vegetables that dogs love to devour such as beets, broccoli, nectarines, carrots, etc., according to the American Kennel Club.
3. To Kill Boredom
Many experts are also considering that dogs might be eating grass to ease boredom. If you are letting your dog go out in the garden and play by itself, it might engage in grass-eating. This usually happens if young puppies have abundant pent-up energy and do not have toys to play with. Lack of exercise and physical activity also results in this foraging behavior.
Pica is a health condition in dogs in which they develop a habit of consuming non-food items like paper, plastic, cardboard, etc. Where some dogs may eat only one kind of thing, others may eat all sorts of things that they could get their paws on. Suffering from pica, some dogs may develop a penchant for grass. Many factors ranging from nutritional and hormonal imbalances to diseases could cause pica in dogs.
5. Diet Deficiency
Oftentimes puppies turn to grass when their diet is nutritionally deficient. Puppies need a high-quality and nutrient-rich diet for smooth and healthy growth. This is the reason that dog food manufacturers prepare specialized foods for puppies that meet all the nutrient requirements of growing puppies. Where small dogs must be fed puppy food for around 7 to 9 months, big dog breeds might need puppy food for up to 12, 13, or even 14 months.
Making an early switch to adult dog food leads to nutrient deficiency in puppies; to compensate for this deficiency, puppies might turn to grass.
6. Fibers in Grass
Dogs need a considerable amount of fibers in their diet for healthy digestion and to smoothly pass stool. The deficiency of fibers upset dogs’ gastrointestinal health. This is the reason that when experiencing a deficiency of fibers, puppies start eating grass, as it is rich in fibers.
Should You Be Worried About Your Puppy Eating Grass?
If your dog is eating grass and staying healthy, you should not worry about it. Even if they vomit after eating grass and seem to be doing fine later, you still need not be concerned. However, if your puppy is continuously eating grass and vomiting, it is a signal that you should immediately take your pup to the veterinarian. The chronic upset tummy of your puppy needs to be checked straight away as there is a huge probability that your dog might be having intestinal parasites such as roundworms, or may have developed a kidney issue. Moreover, if your puppy ate the leaves of a potentially poisonous plant, you should immediately take him to the vet.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Eating Grass?
Yes! Dogs should not be eating grass, even if their health is not being affected by it. However, you will need to make sure that your puppy has a balanced diet, including ample fibers and minerals.
While your dog might find grass very tender, fresh, and tasty, you need to stop him from devouring it as puppies might develop a habit. Moreover, it is not scientifically guaranteed that eating grass is good for the health of puppies. Studies show that only around 10% of dogs show signs of illness, before eating grass. Therefore, it can be established that it is not the upset stomach that is prompting most of the grass-eating dogs to feed on grass.
When your puppy develops a taste for grass, they will be looking for opportunities to devour grass. When outside, they might start feeding on the grass on your neighbor’s lawn. While your neighbor might be a good fella and don’t complain about it, they might have used some pesticides or herbicides that may be harmful to the dog. Similarly, puppies do not know which herbs and plants are dangerous for their health. Therefore, it is only responsible to not let your dog develop the grass-eating habit.
How to Stop Puppies From Eating Grass?
Now that you know that grass is not the best snack for your dog, you must be thinking of effective ways to stop your puppy from eating grass. After narrowing down the reasons behind the grass-eating behavior of your puppy, you should try to address the underlying reasons.
To begin with, if your puppy is eating grass only to meet up its nutritional needs, you need to revise your dog’s feed. You need to make sure that whatever you are putting in your dog’s bowl is meeting all the nutritional needs of your puppy.
If boredom is making your puppy eat grass, you need to keep it busy. Buy some new toys or maybe, start spending more time with them. There isn’t anything on earth that your puppy would love more than spending some quality time with you. You should also make sure that they are getting ample exercise, so they do not spend their pent-up energy grazing.
If your puppy loves the taste of grass, you should provide it with a healthy alternative. For example, you can bring wheatgrass to chew. This would satiate its cravings for grass.
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