Dogs are known as opportunistic omnivores–that is, they are largely carnivorous (mostly well-suited to pull nutrients from meat), but are able to benefit from a smaller amount of nutrients from plant matter. This is the reason why some pups love a good fruit or veggie treat like apples or carrots! But what about other plants that could be a tasty snack for your pup? Plants, like the grass, on your daily walk? Let’s talk ‘Lawn-mower’ dogs.
Is your pup one who simply loves to munch on some fresh green grass? If that’s the case, don’t despair in thinking that your dog has an upset stomach–that’s most often not the case! Some dogs actually throw-up after eating grass, so it stands to reason that the grass doesn’t necessarily calm an upset tummy.
So why do they nom nom on that emerald green grass?
There are actually several reasons why many dogs eat grass, the main being that grass is a delicious and cool food source which can be loaded with H2O for hydration. Experts agree that often, dogs eat grass because they honestly like the taste! (1)
It’s not out of a normal range of behavior at all as there are “several species of wild [dogs] that also commonly eat grass.” (1) Researchers at UC Davis found that wild animals such as wolves and cougars often have varying percentages of grass materials in their fecal matter. In these undomesticated predators, it is theorized that ingesting grass helps entangle and remove intestinal parasites (2), and while domesticated dogs are treated with preventative medicines for parasites, the desire to munch down on some grass may well be written into their DNA.
Is It Safe?
Yes and No. Like with many other things, it’s important to keep an eye out for any changes in your pup’s behaviour. If your pup has never really shown an interest in grass, and is suddenly mowing your lawn, it may be important to check out his or her gastro-intestinal health, and talk to your vet about diet. Adding in fresh, unprocessed or minimally processed foods can be greatly beneficial in introducing enough prebiotics into the system to maintain a happy gut balance (read our super article all about prebiotics and probiotics here!)
There are better grasses than others. Some grasses possess seeds or pods that can be harmful if swallowed (read about Foxtail grass in our hiking post). Many grasses, of course may have harmful chemicals sprayed on them, which can be toxic.
What To Do?
Speak to your vet about diet,and consider adding more roughage and fiber to your pup’s diet. Green veggies, like green beans, are a great way to do this.
Practice your green thumb abilities, and grow some safe grass just for your pup!
Some great sprouts to grow in your pup’s ‘paw-sonal’ salad bar include alfalfa and sunflowers! These sprouted greens are packed with nutrients–‘alfalfa sprouts contain more vitamin A than most fruits. Thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin are abundant in alfalfa, wheat, rye, and sunflower sprouts. All the sprouted grains – especially wheat, oats, and rye.” (1) Visit this page for some awesome tips on growing sprouts for your pup, and have fun gardening with your pup!