Have you noticed that your dog periodically develops a certain inclination to eat grass? Well, in this article we are going to explain not only why Dogs eat Grass and many other issues related to this strange behavior, so we invite you to read it completely.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why do dogs eat grass?
- 2 The false myth that a dog eats grass to purge itself
- 3 There are other reasons that are not valid either
- 4 Science, dogs and grass
- 5 A scientific study denies that dogs eat grass to purge themselves
- 6 Dogs eat grass as heritage from wolves
- 7 Let the dog eat grass or prevent it?
Why do dogs eat grass?
With some regularity people wonder why dogs eat grass. The popular belief is that they do it because they feel the need to purge, but that is not the real reason, or at least it is not logical. Or is it that by chance your dog proceeds to vomit after eating grass? Mine, at least, doesn't.
In this article I am going to try to explain what is really known about this tendency that dogs have, why dogs eat grass, weeds and plants and what are the scientific tests that show that eating grass is not necessarily useful on all occasions to purge. Finally I will tell you if it is healthy to allow dogs to eat herbs or if it is not.
The false myth that a dog eats grass to purge itself
Why does a dog eat grass? It is a question originated by the curiosity expressed both by people who are dog owners and by those who are not. As well as the reason why on some occasions they proceed to vomit after eating it.
But the common response from most people is that they do it because they feel the need to purge themselves with the grass they eat, which is not entirely reasonable. It is not within my intention to take the opinion contrary to the supposed popular wisdom, far from it, what happens is that this answer does not satisfy me and, it does not even work with my own dog.
Of course my dog eats grass on occasions when I take him for a walk and on several of those occasions he has vomited. But it is also that, on very few occasions, my dog shows symptoms that he has an irritated stomach or that he feels bad before proceeding to eat grass. That is why I think that in all this that they always tell us does not lie the answer to such behavior.
If a dog eats grass in order to purge itself, why doesn't it vomit afterwards? And why doesn't he show symptoms of being sick to his stomach before proceeding to eat it? It simply cannot be that the need to purge is the only explanation that has validity to justify such behavior.
There are other reasons that are not valid either
There is another answer that is used to justify the reason why dogs eat grass and that is that it is an atavistic behavior that they have inherited and made their own and that comes from the wolves, which are their wild ancestors.
Certainly, dogs are an evolutionary adaptation that their primitive ancestors had from wolves, whose usual behavior is to hunt and eat animals that normally feed on grass such as rabbits, deer, mice, and many others.
The fact is that when wolves hunt their prey and consume it, they also ingest the herbs that are digested in their stomachs and intestines. It is thought that this vegetable material contained in the digestive system of its prey may represent a nutritional contribution for canids or even that it may be essential for them due to the fiber it provides.
It is the opinion of some veterinarians that dogs consume grass in order to obtain some nutritional contribution and fiber, in the same way that their ancestors the wolves did. But to this day there is no scientific study that gives rational support to this hypothesis.
Science, dogs and grass
Although the dog has long been considered man's best friend, it is, to say the least, surprising that there is very little scientific research on such a well-known aspect as why dogs eat grass.
After a long and unsuccessful search, I came across an article in which I was able to find information that interested me a lot. It is an article that is published in a magazine called Phicology Today, and signed by the canine psychologist and ethologist Standley Coren, who is a recognized authority in studies related to dogs.
In the aforementioned article, mention is made of one of the only two serious scientific studies that have been carried out so far to determine the reason why dogs eat grass. It is none other than a study from 2008, which in turn was published by the scientific journal Applied Animal Behavior and which I will proceed to comment on to you in a row.
There is another article that I was able to find browsing the internet, and it is from 2007. It is called Grass eating patterns in the domestic dog, Canis familiaris, by its translation, Grass eating patterns in the domestic dog, Canis familiaris. The results of this study conclude that dogs eat grass more often when they are hungry than when they are not hungry.
A scientific study denies that dogs eat grass to purge themselves
The research that I mentioned before from 2008, which was carried out by researchers belonging to the University of California, had the purpose of demonstrating if dogs ate herbs and plants with the aim of purging themselves on those occasions when they feel they have gastric discomfort. or if the reason why they do it is to ingest a supplement in their diet, because it has nutritional deficiencies.
The initial study of why dogs eat grass
The original research was carried out with a survey applied to 25 veterinary students who were dog owners.
Of course, all the students surveyed indicated that their dogs ate grass, weeds, and plants. None of them stated that they had observed any symptoms or signs in their dogs of suffering from a disease before eating grass or plants and only 8% indicated that their dog vomited regularly after eating grass.
a second study why do dogs eat grass
With these results in hand, the researchers made the decision to continue their investigations and proceeded to conduct another survey, but this time with 47 dog owners. Of them, 79% indicated that they had noticed that their dog ate plants, in most cases grass.
Only 4 of the interviewees admitted to having noticed that their dog exhibited symptoms of discomfort before it proceeded to eat grass and only 6 indicated that their respective dogs had proceeded to vomit after eating grass.
The third study of Why do dogs eat grass
After having carried out these two previous studies, through surveys, the researchers made the decision to continue and managed to expand the sample to 1.571 dog owners. Again, 68% indicated that their dog regularly ate grass and plants. Only 8% said that they had been able to observe symptoms of discomfort in their dogs before ingesting the grass and only 22% said that their dog vomited after eating it.
The study samples led the scientists to the conclusion that most dogs eat plants and grass, and that this is nothing more than normal behavior for them. They also concluded that this behavior, in general, is not linked to the dog suffering from any disease or stomach upset prior to eating grass and plants.
The results of this study show, then, that dogs do not consume grass and plants in order to purge themselves because they feel sick to their stomach or because they want to expel something that bothers them inside their stomach. Although it does seem to be true that, in cases where dogs exhibited symptoms of some stomach illness before ingesting herbs or grass, the vomiting reaction is more frequent.
The study also found no evidence that dogs eat grass to fill a nutritional gap because those dogs that were supplemented with plant-based supplements to the diet, such as vegetables or fruits, showed no special motivation to eat grass that they received. a diet without supplements.
Another of the issues that must be pondered from the conclusions reached by the research carried out by the University of California is that, apparently, it is the younger dogs that show some inclination to eat grass on a regular basis. Likewise, the youngest are the ones who exhibit symptoms or signs of some disease with less intensity before eating grass and those who vomit less after having ingested it.
Dogs eat grass as heritage from wolves
The researchers concluded that the reason dogs eat grass may lie in the fact that it is a behavior that shows innate conditioning that was inherited from their wolf ancestors. According to research, apparently in wolves, eating grass can act as a purging method to eliminate intestinal parasites for two reasons:
1- The vegetable factor is helpful by being able to drag the worms through the intestinal tract.
2- The fiber contained in the herb increases bowel movements, which also contributes to the dragging of parasites through the intestinal tract.
Certainly most domestic dogs today are free of parasites, it is likely that they continue with that innate behavioral conditioning inherited from wolves to eat grass as a method of eliminating parasites and intestinal worms.
However, one of the most widely accepted reasons why dogs eat grass is that they simply like the taste or the relaxing effect of sniffing, picking, and chewing. Perhaps that is why puppies and young dogs, who are naturally more curious and like to explore, exhibit this habit of eating grass more frequently than older dogs.
But, for the veterinarian Michael Goldberg, of the Hudson Place Veterinary Clinic, located in Vancouver, Canada, there is still one more alternative explanation: He thinks that it is likely that dogs eat grass, in imitation of their ancestors, the wolves, in order to camouflage their body odor, when they went hunting. In the same way that many dogs rub themselves over decomposing animal carcasses and other odorous pieces.
Let the dog eat grass or prevent it?
Citing the opinion of veterinarian Adrián Aguilera, eating grass certainly does not have to be a serious problem in a healthy dog, however it is advisable to take some precautions.
Generally, there is nothing to be scared of when a dog eats grass, and efforts to stop it from doing so are unnecessary. However, it must be taken into account that when an animal tries to induce vomiting to remove a foreign body from its body, it may end up aggravating the problem itself.
In most cases, the result is counterproductive, since what it usually does is cause a gastric ailment. If a dog that has a stomachache eats grass, it will only get more complicated. Another issue that we must take into consideration is that when eating grass, dogs may run the risk of ingesting some type of poisonous or harmful plant for their body or it may have been treated with a fertilizer that is toxic.
In any case, friends, we cannot go against an atavism that leads the dog to eat grass, but we can take due care regarding the herbs that can be found in those places where we usually walk them.
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