“Oh, no! Little Molly is eating grass! Why is she doing that? Is that dangerous? What can I do to stop it?” This is an expected reaction from a Chihuahua parent when their “little Molly” eats grass like a cow. A dog eating grass is weird. Let’s remove all that weirdness by learning why dogs eat grass, what its dangers are, and how to prevent it.
Why Dogs Eat Grass
There are a lot of varying opinions on why dogs eat grass. While all of them are not proven and aren’t entirely credited as true by scientific communities, they have reasonable merits.
1. Nutritional Deficiency
If your tiny Chi isn’t getting all her nutritional needs from what she’s fed, she might look to other sources, like your backyard. Although grass doesn’t offer the same tasty flavors as beef, lamb, or chicken flavored dog food, it contains some nutritional value.
Grass contains the following vitamins: A, C, E, and B6. It’s also rich in iron, zinc, niacin, thiamine, selenium, and riboflavin. These are nutrients that strengthen the immune system, provides energy and improves body functions.
The problem with this common opinion, however, is that a Chihuahua’s digestive tract doesn’t absorb these nutrients from grass. The grass is mostly composed of cellulose. And a Chi doesn’t have the stomach digestive tract to break grass down.
The only merit of this theory is the fact that grass is fibrous. And your Chihuahua needs fiber in her diet. Fiber helps in softening stool and makes bowel movement easier.
2. Digestion Problems
Another popular theory about a dog eating grass is to aid relief in an upset stomach. According to this theory, dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Some experts believe that dogs do this when they have an intestinal blockage or gases in their tummies.
Upon ingestion, the grass tickles the throat and the intestines, triggering vomiting. However, vomiting doesn’t always happen. Ingesting grass only results in vomiting when the grass isn’t properly chewed. You can actually see the blades of grass in the vomit.
This theory has been quite effectively debunked by researchers from the University of California. According to the data by those researchers, only 22% of dogs vomit after eating grass. Additionally, only 8% of dogs show symptoms of digestion problems before eating grass.
But keep in mind, this is the only available scientific study about this theory. It isn’t enough to totally discard the theory. Likewise, the theory isn’t proven. As far as any of the opinions in this list go, each is just as likely to be true as the next.
3. Intestinal Parasites
Since grass has high fiber content, some experts theorized that dogs eat grass to purge out parasites from their systems. These parasites include roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, or hookworms. This theory makes sense in that 34% to 54% of dogs in the United States are infected with parasites in their stomachs.
This theory breaks down when your Chihuahua is on an anti-parasite medicine (like she should be). Though there is no data that dogs on worm preventative medicines still eat grass, let’s assume they do. Why do they do that then?
4. Hard-Wired in the DNA
A few experts believe that dogs inherited the habit of eating grass from wolves. Modern-day dogs share at least 99.8% of their DNA with feral wolves. Wolves prey on grass-eating animals like deer, gophers, or even squirrels, thus filling their stomachs with grass. It is observed by experts that a wolf mother who eats grass during pregnancy gives birth to grass-eating pups.
This can explain why, even if on a worm preventative medicine, your Chi eats grass. The behavior is hard-wired into her DNA.
5. She’s Bored
Chihuahuas need regular stimulation both physically and mentally. If such stimulation is not given to them, they will look for things to do to pass the time. This includes chewing up the carpet, chewing up rolls of toilet paper, chewing their nails, or chewing grass (they seem to do a lot of chewing when bored).
If this is the case for your Chi, you can easily solve the problem by providing regular exercise for your pet. The preferable amount of exercise is 30 minutes a day. Additionally, toys also give dogs something else to think about during the day.
A very good type of toy is one with a puzzle on it. A hidden compartment where treats are contained can keep your tiny furball occupied for some time. The only problem with such toys is dogs can learn the trick after a few tries. They can then access the treat with little effort.
Is Eating Grass Dangerous?
A dog eating grass is at risk of the following:
- Other toxic chemicals
- Toxic grass
- Sharp grass
- Intestinal blockage
- Tooth decay
Most of these dangers you can avoid if you know what’s in the grass. If the grass contains any chemicals or parasites, don’t let your dog eat it. Intestinal blockage is a risk, especially if your dog ingests too much grass. As was explained above, dogs can’t break down grass. A huge lump of grass can block the passageways of your Chi’s tummy.
Tooth decay is a danger due to the high silica content of grass. Silica can wear down the enamel of a dog’s teeth. This can result in tooth decay and other oral problems.
Dog Eating Grass is Common Behavior
Whenever you see your dog eat grass, don’t panic and rush her to the vet. The behavior is very common among dogs. And as long as you’re certain that the grass doesn’t have chemicals, parasites, or that your little Molly doesn’t ingest too much, she will not be in immediate danger.
If you’re concerned, keep a close watch on her after she eats grass. Watch out for signs of disease. If her health is as good as ever, she’s free to do what every other cute dog does.
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