Friday, February 26, 2010
Dear Lola: My dog Caesar is always nibbling on grass and my precious flowers. Why do dogs eat grass?
Sincerely, CAESAR SALAD
Dear CAESAR SALAD: This is a great question that inquiring dog owners want to know and one of the most perplexing. Let me first dispel the urban legend that your dog is merely mowing the lawn & weeding the garden. Being a dog myself I have been know to nibble here and there on a nice green patch of crisp grass or stalk. Sometimes I get the munchies and can’t help but to crave a fresh garden salad. Hold the pesticides please! For many dog owners their freshly manicured lawns can become the grazing chomping grounds or all you can eat gigantic salad bar for Fido. Not only do you have to deal with your dog’s grass addictive eating habit (one of life’s unsolved mysteries) but also now you have bald spots throughout your lawn. But before we can salvage what’s left of your lawn and flowerbed, we first need to answer the age-old dog question....Why?
Here are reasons why dogs may eat grass:
1. Tummy Tamer: You know your dog is having an upset stomach when he starts munching on grass. No he’s not weeding your garden or mowing the lawn. But one must admit doing some of the chores would be a great way for Spot to show his appreciation. Perhaps your dog’s appetite is lacking and his big sad eyes are bigger then his tummy and he's whining for a belly rub. Most dogs are hearty eaters, and an untouched food bowl is unusual, to say the least. Many dogs seek out grass when their stomach feels unsettled, upset or overly full. Dogs have very sensitive nerve-endings in their stomach; therefore experts believe that the long thin strips of green grass stimulate the stomach in a way that triggers vomiting. Vomiting is especially important if your dog has eaten something toxic or anything that does not agree with him. Take it from me dogs can eat the weirdest and most disgusting things, from road kill to garbage. If your dog is vomiting and eating grass excessively consult your family vet.
2. A Need for Fiber: Like humans, animals instinctively seek out foods, nutrients and other substances that their body is lacking. While dogs can’t grab a bowl of Oat Bran, glass of wheat grass or drink a cup of Benefiber for their daily intake, they will reach for a sprig or mouthful of grass. Like humans dogs are omnivores and need a well-balanced diet, greens and all. Some vets believe that dogs that do not have sufficient fiber content in their regular diet are more likely to seek out grass as a substitute. So, why substitute when can have the real thing! You can help by adding more fiber in their diet by giving them fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli, celery and lettuce in their daily kibble. Not only does this make the meal more enticing, they provide a wonderful source of nutrients.
3. Some Dogs Just Like Greens: Keep in mind that eating grass is not always sign that your dog is sick, but perhaps it just taste good. You will never have to say to your dog “Spot, eat your greens”. Dogs love roughage in their diet.
Now on to saving your lawn…If your dog eats grass often and you want to discourage this behavior, mow your lawn frequently, and keep the edges of your lawn well trimmed. Most dogs are drawn to tall clumps of grass, so shorter lawns may keep them from eating grass. It is important to only allow your dog to chew on grass that has not been treated with toxic lawn chemicals, which can cause health problems or possible death. So make sure that when you are tending to your lawn you use all natural, pesticide and chemical free alternatives fit for dog grazing.
Note: If your dog's normal behavior does change in any way and you notice any vomiting that is not associated with eating grass or there is excessive vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea or you notice that your dog has become severely lethargic contact your vet as soon as possible. Also, if your dog does eat grass in excessive amounts everyday then this should be brought to your vet's attention as this can be a sign of gastrointestinal problems.
But otherwise, eating grass is a natural canine habit and a normal part of being a dog. Hey, just consider it a way your dog is showing his or her appreciation by doing some chores around the house.
Lola the eco dog
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