Despite innumerable articles written on the topic, no one seems to know exactly why dogs graze on grass or other plant material. Are they trying to make themselves vomit; as so many of us have been taught to believe? Are they trying to pass something or clear their intestinal tract of foreign objects or parasites? As Toronto Dog Walkers, it is a question we have wanted to solve. Through research, we were able to find a study that debunks this theory. According to Stanley Cohen, a professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and a trusted writer on the subject of dogs and dog psychology; dogs do not eat grass because they are not feeling well.
A study was conducted questioning 25 veterinary students about behaviors they had observed in their own dogs. All of the students said their dogs ate grass, but none of them witnessed any sign of illness before their dogs ate the grass, and only 8% reported seeing their dogs vomit after eating grass. Then they decided to broaden their research by creating a larger sample group; first to 47 dog owners, and then online to more than 1,500 dog owners. Through this testing, they were able to conclude that there is no scientific basis for dogs eating grass because they are sick and trying to vomit.
Some people believe that it’s because the dogs are lacking particular nutrients in their diet, either fiber or vitamins. I can say that my dog used to eat grass, and when I switched her to a diet of raw food including meat and vegetables she literally stopped ingesting grass and has not done so since.
In their natural state, dogs are omnivores, requiring nutrients from both plant and animal sources. Wild and feral dogs, as well as those who hunt, often ingest the intestines and stomach contents of their prey, which invariably includes plant material. If your dog is eating grass, you might conclude that they simply like the taste and texture, much as we do when we eat carrots, celery or lettuce. Obviously, there are health benefits to eating our vegetables, for us as well as for our dogs; and when they eat grass they may simply be following their own natural instincts. One word of caution; though eating grass may be a natural inclination of little concern in most cases, grass, plant material and some weeds in unknown areas may be toxic due to the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. We as a Toronto dog walking service, recommend satisfying your dog’s need for vegetation by providing a healthy diet which includes vegetables.
Please refer to our last blog which focused on the benefits of vegetables in your dog’s diet.