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  • Writer's pictureKate Phillips

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass UK?

Updated: May 2

why do dogs eat grass uk

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass UK? Understanding the Grass-Eating Habits of Our Furry Family in the UK

 

Dogs in the UK often exhibit a peculiar behaviour that puzzles many pet owners – grass eating. 


At Mary Puppins, we see most of our guest dogs and resident dogs regularly eating fresh grass on walks. They all seem to love it!


While it may seem unusual, this habit is shared among our furry family members. 


But why do they do it? 

This blog explores many ideas and professional perspectives to solve the enigma of this innate desire. 


We'll delve into the possible reasons, from nutritional needs to behavioural aspects, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of this canine tendency.


chihuahua in field, why do dogs eat grass

The Instinctual Drive Behind Grass Consumption

 

Seeing a dog munching on grass is not just a random act; it's an instinctual behaviour rooted in their DNA. 


Foraging is a natural tendency for many animals, and dogs are no exception. 


Whether for nutritional balance, the need to induce vomiting or simply an inherited trait from their wild ancestors, grass consumption can serve multiple purposes. 


In the following sections, we'll examine each potential reason, backed by veterinary insights and scientific research, to provide a well-rounded perspective on why our small breed companions in the UK might be drawn to this green snack.


maltese in field, why do dogs eat grass

How Grass Intake Can Indicate a Need for Dietary Adjustment

 

Our furry family members occasionally turn to grass to supplement their diet. 


This behaviour might suggest a deficiency in particular nutrients. 


While grass isn't a significant source of nutrition, eating it could signal that a dog's regular diet lacks variety or specific nutrients. 


Owners must observe and consider if their pet's grass-eating habit is a cry for a more balanced diet, especially for small breeds with unique dietary requirements.


Behavioural Reasons


Grass eating can also manifest boredom or playfulness, particularly in small breeds that require regular mental stimulation and physical activity. 


When dogs feel under-stimulated, they may eat grass to pass the time or engage with their environment. 


Pet owners must provide ample playtime and interactive toys to entertain their furry family members and curb unwanted grazing habits.


Self-Medication Theory


The self-medication theory suggests that dogs may consume grass to alleviate discomfort or address digestive issues. 


This instinctual behaviour is thought to help purge their system, especially if they have ingested something that doesn't agree with them. 


This could be a natural response to internal distress for small breeds in the UK, which may have sensitive stomachs.


dog eating grass, why do dogs eat grass

The Ancestral Link, Wild Canine Behaviour and Domestic Dogs

 

Tracing the Grass-Eating Habit Back to Dogs' Wild Ancestors


Looking into the past, the grass-eating habit can be traced back to wild canines. 


These ancestors of our modern furry family members may have eaten grass for its intestinal worm-clearing properties. 


Today's domestic dogs, particularly small breeds, might still retain this ancestral trait, leading them to instinctively munch on grass.


dog sniffing grass, why do dogs eat grass

When Grass Eating is a Concern

 

Grass eating in dogs is generally expected, but specific symptoms can signal a problem. 


After eating grass, if your dog exhibits any symptoms of discomfort, such as persistent coughing, gagging, or inability to eat, or if there's a sudden increase in the frequency or amount of grass consumed, it's wise to consult a veterinarian. 


These symptoms could indicate underlying issues like gastrointestinal discomfort or more severe conditions that require professional attention.


cavalier eating grass, why do dogs eat grass

Patterns in Grass Consumption

 

Findings from UK dog owners indicate that grass-eating is a widespread habit among dogs, regardless of breed. 


However, it's more noticeable in small breeds due to their closer interaction with their environment during outdoor activities. 


Owners report that their dogs tend to eat grass when they are out for walks or playing in the garden, and it does not usually cause concern. 


The consensus is that, as long as the grass is not treated with pesticides or other chemicals, this behaviour is a normal part of a dog's exploratory and foraging instincts.


yorkie in a field, why do dogs eat grass

Case Studies on Small Breed Dogs and Grass Eating

 

Small breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, and Dachshunds have been observed to eat grass more frequently than some larger breeds. 


This could be due to several reasons:


  • Size and Digestion: Small breeds have smaller digestive systems, which may lead them to seek out grass as a source of fibre or to induce vomiting if they feel unwell.

  • Dietary Habits: They often have specific nutritional needs that might not be fully met by commercial dog foods, leading them to forage for additional nutrients.

  • Behavioural Traits: Small breeds are sometimes more energetic and curious, which could make them more inclined to explore and nibble on grass during their outdoor adventures.


These case studies suggest that while grass-eating is typical for many dog breeds, small breeds might engage in it for reasons unique to their size and physiological needs. 


Understanding these tendencies can help pet owners provide better care and dietary adjustments for their furry family members.


garden, why do dogs eat grass

The Role of Pesticides

 

Implications of Chemical Treatments on Dogs' Health


The grass in urban areas can often be treated with pesticides, which poses a health risk to dogs, especially small breeds closer to the ground and may ingest more grass. 


The use of pesticides in grassy areas is a significant concern for dog owners, especially when our furry family enjoys foraging and playing outdoors. 


Dogs may be harmed by pesticides—chemicals used to get rid of pests—if they eat them or merely come into contact with their skin.


Small breeds, in particular, are at a higher risk due to their proximity to the ground and smaller size, which can lead to a higher dose of pesticide per body weight.


The Potential Dangers of Pesticides can cause various health issues in dogs, from mild irritations to severe poisoning. 


Symptoms of pesticide exposure can include vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, and lethargy. 


Seizures, comas, or even death are possible outcomes in severe situations.


Ensuring Safety in Grassy Areas To protect our furry family members, dog owners can take several precautions:

  • Research: Find out if local parks or walking areas use pesticides and, if so, what kind and when they are applied.

  • Timing: Avoid areas that have been recently treated, especially within 48 hours after pesticide application.

  • Alternatives: Seek organic or pesticide-free parks and gardens for your dog's outdoor activities.

  • Clean-Up: Clean your dog's paws and underbelly after a walk to remove any potential pesticide residue.

  • Home Lawn Care: If you treat your garden, consider using pet-friendly, natural alternatives to traditional pesticides.


To help make sure their dogs enjoy the outdoors without becoming sick from pesticides, dog owners should be knowledgeable and follow these procedures.


dog eating grass, why do dogs eat grass

Seasonal Variations in Grass Eating

 

Understanding How Different Times of the Year Affect This Behaviour


The grass-eating habits of our furry family members can fluctuate with the seasons. 


During spring and summer, dogs may be more inclined to graze when grass is more abundant and at its peak nutritional value. 


Conversely, the behaviour might decrease in autumn and winter due to the scarcity and lower grass quality. 


Seasonal variations significantly influence the grass-eating patterns of small breeds in the UK. 


Dogs may be more inclined to graze during the spring and summer when the grass is lush and abundant. 


This could be due to the fresh taste or the increased outdoor activity that warmer weather encourages. 


Conversely, grass's availability and appeal diminish during autumn and winter, leading to a natural decline in this behaviour.


For small breeds, these seasonal changes can be particularly impactful. 


Their delicate digestive systems might react differently to the types of grass available throughout the year. 


In spring, the new growth may provide a tender, appealing snack, while in winter, the tougher, dormant grass might be less enticing or may even be covered by snow, making it inaccessible.


Additionally, the nutritional content of grass changes with the seasons. 


In the growing season, grass may offer more nutritional value, which could attract small breeds looking to supplement their diet. 


However, during the colder months, the nutritional benefits are reduced, and so might be the interest in grazing.


Understanding these patterns can help dog owners anticipate and manage their furry family members' grass-eating habits, ensuring they stay healthy and happy throughout the year.


dog eating grass, why do dogs eat grass

Final Thoughts

 

Reflecting on the Multifaceted Reasons Why Our Furry Family Members May Graze


In conclusion, the reasons behind why dogs eat grass are varied and complex. 


Each factor plays a role in this common canine practice, from fulfilling nutritional deficiencies to instinctual behaviours passed down from their ancestors. 


For small breeds in the UK, these reasons may be even more pronounced due to their specific dietary and behavioural needs. 


Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

At Mary Puppins,  we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.


Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.


BOOK NOW  via our website. We have limited places and get booked up super fast. Give your little dog the five-star VIP holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours.


mary puppins why do dogs eat grass


why do dogs eat grass

mary puppins why do dogs eat grass

Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc


Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny, an expert in small breed dogs and a pet parent to her own beloved small dogs.


With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families,

Kate shares her top tips with you.


Kate guides readers on small dog breeds, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate lifestyle for their small dogs.


 

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