Dogs are not herbivores, therefore, they shouldn’t eat grass. At least so you thought until you saw your Basset Hound eating grass. Not once, but many times. Even stranger, he seemed to enjoy it. So, you asked around and people weighed in with reasons such as he is just having fun, he is exploring new tastes, not to mention, he just discovered grass! All amusing reasons but are they true, and is your dog unique in this sense? It is very confusing to see an animal you believe to be a meat eater behaving like a vegan. But what you should know is that your Basset Hound eating grass is not unique to his breed or to the canine species. In fact, studies show that majority of dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, though none as entertaining as those mentioned above. But while the behavior is considered as normal, it can denote serious underlying health issues in your dog that need to be addressed by a dog specialist. To explore more of these reasons, read on below.
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The Root of the Behavior
The first possible reason why your basset hound is eating grass is that he is craving a high fiber diet. Studies that support this explanation show that a dog’s craving for grass subsides after high fiber foods are introduced into the diet. One such study reported that a poodle who ate grass for seven years stopped eating grass after being put on a high fiber diet for just three days. This could be the same case for your Basset Hound. The need for extra roughage aside, an upset stomach could cause your dog to eat grass and you can tell this if the grazing is followed by vomiting. Grass is thought to induce vomiting by tickling the stomach and throat of a dog. Instead of chewing the grass, your unwell dog will gulp it and throw up shortly after. Experts who dispute this line of reasoning say that dogs are not clever enough to know how to treat themselves when sick. Studies have also shown that only a very small percentage of dogs vomit after eating grass, leading experts to believe that treating an upset stomach is only applicable to less than 25% of dogs.
A more compelling reason why your Basset Hound could be eating grass is nutrition supplementation. To address the root of this behavior, we first need to debunk the myth that, dogs are carnivores. Historical facts regarding the domestication of dogs point to the fact that domestic dogs are indeed scavengers. Dogs first became domesticated around the same time that human beings coalesced around organized settlements and started practicing organized agriculture. To fulfill their need for nutrition, dogs would scavenge in garbage dumps and eat the waste left by humans, including vegetables. It is documented that dogs’ ancestors had a diverse diet that included berries, fruits and other plants. It is also thought that since canines in the wild eat the stomach contents of their prey, this led them to develop a taste for grass. However, since domestic dogs don’t hunt, they have had to fulfill this need by eating grass. Lastly, puppies of all dog breeds are curious and will eat grass when bored or playing.
Encouraging the Behavior
Most dog experts maintain that grass is harmless to canines and there is no cause to be alarmed. Some even recommend it from a nutritional point of view, particularly for dogs eating processed commercial foods. Depending on what you feed your Basset Hound, his grass eating behavior could mean that he is looking for certain nutrients in his food. To supplement his nutrition, it is advisable to introduce cooked vegetables in his diet to add nutrients and ease constipation. Note however that excessive grazing could indicate a severe lack of certain nutritive elements, a condition that should be treated with a carefully structured diet by his vet. Further, as worms have been thought to cause a craving for roughage, particularly grass, consider deworming your Basset Hound, especially if you notice the behavior is not stopping even after you change his diet. There is, of course, no discounting the fact that your dog likes the taste of grass, thanks to his ancestry. If he doesn’t take a liking to vegetables, consider growing a small patch of grass in a box that will be free of poisons and pesticides. To prevent your Basset Hound puppy from eating grass out of boredom, provide them with enough stimulation or giving him a chew toy to keep his jaws busy on something else.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You should stop your Basset Hound from behaving this way if he favors grass from areas where you have no control, such as from neighbors’ yards, parks or along the road. These areas could have poisons and pesticides which could endanger your dog if ingested. Additionally, some plants and shrubs are poisonous to dogs and may trigger an allergic reaction or illness, hence you should be watchful when walking him near such vegetation. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from poisoning, either from a plant or from chemicals, you should take him to the vet immediately. Having some information about the possible poison he has ingested will be helpful to the vet when determining diagnosis and treatment.
This is yet another behavior that goes to show that everything your dog does, no matter how strange, happens for a valid reason. By eating grass, your dog is trying to communicate that he is sick, bored, has worms, or that his diet requires supplementing. As your dog is unique and his habits might be nuanced, consult a veterinary professional when you are unsure of his behavior.