Does your Labrador eat grass? You probably feel like this is a rather odd way for a carnivore to behave. But it is surprisingly common.
In this article we are going to take a look at why your Labrador is eating grass, and what can be done about it.
Is he ‘going vegetarian’? Is he ill? Or even slightly mad? Let’s have a look!
Is a dog eating grass normal behaviour?
The first thing to point out is that almost all dogs eat grass from time to time.
So, even if your Labrador does a passable impersonation of a grazing sheep on his daily walks, you probably don’t need to take him for therapy.
He is perfectly normal.
But he looks crazy!
Some dogs caper about wildly whilst they ‘graze’, racing here and there, exuberantly.
Snatching at great clumps of grass in a manic display of silliness.
Again, although occasionally, a dog that behaves this way may have some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such disorders are rare.
Snatching and chomping at grass, however crazy your dog may seem, is not usually a sign that your dog is deranged.
Do dogs eat grass to induce vomiting?
One long standing theory about grass eating is that dogs do it to relieve stomach upsets. In 2008 a study was carried out which tried to test this theory.
The researchers in the study induced a mild intestinal upset in some of the dogs in the study by feeding them controlled quantities of fruit sugars.
The remainder of the dogs (the control group) were not subjected to the intestinal upset. The researchers then gave the dogs access to two common types of grass.
The results were quite surprising. The dogs in good health actually ate more of the grass than the dogs with upset stomachs.
In addition, out of over three hundred dogs, grass eating was only followed by vomiting in two of them.
Unfortunately, whilst interesting, all the study really showed was that dogs who have been fed fruit sugars, don’t use grass to relieve their symptoms.
It doesn’t really address a dog’s response to other types of gastric disorder or nausea.
Nor does it address the question of parasites.
Do dogs eat grass to get rid of parasites?
My mother used to tell me that dogs eat grass to get rid of worms.
If my dogs start eating grass, one of the first things I do is to check their worming status, and if they have not been wormed recently, then I treat them.
Opinion seems divided as to whether or not this is just a myth, but I don’t believe anyone has put this theory to the test with a proper controlled study.
Does grass have dog nutrients?
There are also theories that there may also be times when grass is actually an attractive addition to your dog’s diet.
Fresh, newly growing spring grass, for example, is rich in nutrients.
Whether these nutrients are actually available to the dog is another matter however
As dogs are not normally able to effectively digest plant material, unless it has been broken down in some way (crushed or semi-digested).
Why do dogs eat grass?
If your dog eats grass, you are in good company.
Most dogs do this from time to time.
It is possible that your dog occasionally eats grass to dislodge parasites or to induce vomiting.
But most of the time, we just don’t know why dogs do this.
Obviously, if your dog is regularly vomiting for whatever reason, he needs to see a vet.
But happy grass chomping without side effects, in an otherwise healthy dog, is simply nothing to worry about.
How about you?
Does your dog eat grass? Do you think he enjoys it?
Share your experience in the comments box below
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