Why do dogs eat grass?
Does your dog ever eat grass and have you ever heard theories about it? The most common theory is that dogs that eat grass do not feel well. “They eat grass so they can surrender”. Is that really true? It is also regularly claimed that dogs would eat grass to supplement their diet. For example, these dogs would miss certain nutrients.
In 2008, research was done into this phenomenon. (Applied Animal Behavior Science in California) It started with 25 veterinary medicine students who each completed a questionnaire about their own dogs. All these students reported that their dogs sometimes ate grass. No student had a dog that showed signs of illness and only 8% of these dogs had surrendered after eating grass.
A second questionnaire followed, this time among 47 dog owners. No less than 79% of the owners confirmed that their dogs regularly ate grass. When they had to answer questions about the behavior of the dog for eating grass and after eating grass, it was found that illness was rare (only 4 dogs were ill) and vomiting after eating grass was determined by only 6 dogs .
After these two preliminary studies, the researchers expanded their research by means of a large-scale survey that was completed via internet by 1571 dog owners. Again it was confirmed that eating grass is a common phenomenon among dogs, 68% said that their dogs ate weekly and sometimes even daily grass. Only 8% indicated that the dog had signs of illness and 22% indicated that the dog had surrendered after eating grass. The results also showed that in particular young dogs regularly ate grass and that this group had the least chance of symptoms of sickness or vomiting. The study also showed that if the dog had symptoms of illness and ate grass, the chance of vomiting after eating grass would increase.
In this study, questions were also asked about what the dog was fed. Eating grass did not seem to be related to this, so the explanation of eating grass to compensate for a particular diet did not go according to the results of this survey. Dogs whose feed was supplemented with vegetables and plants ate grass just as often as dogs, which was not the case.
From this research it was concluded that dogs eat grass on a regular basis and there was no connection with disease or vomiting. They thought it might originate from grass-eating ancestors of dogs. This is plausible when one looks at the research that was done on feces of wolves, in which the remnants of grass were found very regularly. For wild animals, eating grass can help to drive out parasites. The plant material passes through the intestinal tract and takes parasites as worms into the process. Although most domestic dogs do not carry parasites, eating grass can also come from an old-fashioned instinct.
It comes down to the fact that the answer to the question of why dogs eat grass is still not entirely clear. According to these studies, the theory of illness and vomiting is in any case not proven and the same applies to the theory about supplementing nutrition. Some claim that dogs would do boredom and that it is therefore more common in younger dogs.
Another explanation could be that dogs eat grass because they just like it. Personally, I can at least say with certainty that the dog has not surrendered in pictures on the right after eating grass.