Eight out of ten dogs will eat grass if they have access to it. However, this behavior continues to surprise those who witness it. Why does the dog eat grass? To answer this question, it may be helpful to know that the wolf also eats plants. However, this habit is not without its dangers for the dog and can even reveal some behavioral problems. All the facts about this uniqueness of canine behavior are given below.
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Some studies claim that 68% of dogs eat grass regularly. As you can see, it is a fairly high percentage; however, little research has been done to determine the causes of this behavior.
Several theories try to justify this behavior, so we are going to review them one by one to understand this behavior.
The most popular explanation is that dogs eat grass to purge themselves. That is, the dogs would eat grass to vomit and thus relieve their stomach discomfort or possible parasites.
But what does science say about this hypothesis? A study conducted by the University of California investigated this question and the results obtained were as follows:
- 68% of the dogs studied ate plants or grass regularly.
- Only 9% of dogs had symptoms of illness before eating grass.
- In only 22% of cases, vomiting occurred after eating grass.
If we evaluate these results, we observe that the percentage of dogs that presented discomfort before consuming grass was very low, and also, they did not always manage to vomit after ingesting it.
Therefore, according to this study, the intake of grass does not have to be associated with gastric discomfort, and eating plants or grass could simply be a natural behavior of the dog.
Eating grass to meet your nutritional needs
Some experts claim that dogs eat grass to satisfy their nutritional needs.
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In the case of wolves, this theory is true, since a diet based exclusively on meat would be deficient; for this reason, they ingest the contents of the stomach of their prey (which has partially digested vegetables) and eat fruits as part of their usual diet.
However, the nutritional needs of the domestic dog are ensured with high-end feeds that already contain adequate levels of vegetables.
Studies show that dogs on a balanced diet also consume grass. So we can confirm that the consumption of grass is not associated with nutritional deficiencies.
Dogs eat grass because they are hungry
So, the next time you ask yourself ‘Why is my dog eating grass?’ here you’ll find additional answers. There are recent studies that show that this behavior is directly related to satiety, that is, dogs eat more grass when they are hungry than when they are satiated.
Therefore, this theory could explain a “grass pecking” behavior in those animals that have anxiety for food and do not feel easily satiated.
Should we let our dog eat grass?
Now that you know that it is a natural behavior and that it can be pleasant for our dog, you are probably wondering if it is good for a dog to eat grass regularly or if it can cause health problems.
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From an ethological or behavioral point of view, we should allow dogs to eat grass if they wish, and not repress this behavior. However, from a health perspective, we must not let them eat grass from the streets or fields.
Eating this type of herb can have several risks to your health:
- The grass of the parks is usually treated with pesticides, so if our dog ingests it, it can become intoxicated.
- The plants of the field, although we think they are natural and safe, can be a vehicle for parasites in the form of larvae or eggs and cause infestations in our pets if we eat them.
If you want your dog to enjoy eating grass safely, you can consider the option of placing a pot at home and planting grass or another type of edible grass in it.