Why do dogs eat grass? By Katelyn Schutz, CPDT
Ever have a dog who acted more like a goat, helping manicure your neighbor's lawn by grazing on the tufts of long grasses they missed with the trimmers? Curious why sometimes your pooch wants to go outside just to eat some grass, then proceeds to vomit it all over your kitchen floor moments later?
Though dogs are predators, they are also omnivorous, or as I like to call them "opportunists". For some dogs, grass is just another item on the menu, like ordering a side salad. Canines have about 1/16 the number of taste buds on their tongue as we humans do, so a dog's pallet is much less sensitive than ours... which means they are willing to eat just about anything and everything! (I foresee a future blog on "Why do dogs eat poop?"...) It's fun and self-rewarding to eat grass, so these dogs can actually become highly selective about which vegetation they choose to munch on next.
My veterinary medicine experience taught me that sometimes dogs will eat grass to induce vomiting. Canines have a keen reflex to regurgitate food, to help rid of items that might make them sick. Many dogs rush to eat grass when they feel nauseated, to make themselves vomit so they can feel better. In severe cases of neglect and malnutrition, it has been noted that some dogs develop a habit of eating grass as a source of finding nourishment.
Remember to be cautious if Fido likes to eat grass for pleasure, as certain fertilizers and pesticides used in some lawn care can be very dangerous to dogs if consumed. As a professional dog walker, I never allow the pups I'm sitting for to eat grass, just in case it may be coated with harmful toxins.
If you'd like to stop your dog from eating grass, bring along a top grade reinforcement -- something extra special that your dog loves, like a stinky treat, or a favorite squeeky ball. When your dog starts to get interested in grazing for a snack, re-direct your dog's attention back to you, pairing his or her obedience with that special reinforcement. This teaches the dog that paying attention to you is more beneficial than eating grass. Be consistent with your command, and use something you would say naturally, like "leave it" or "yucky". To be more successful, practice these re-direction techniques BEFORE your dog gets overly interested in the distraction.
To a dog, life is an edible garden. Me, the human? Call me boring, but I'll take my Caesar salad instead, thanks.
Thank you www.warrenphotographic.co.uk
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