If you have a Dachshund, you have probably observed him or her eating grass and wondered what the motivation is behind that seemingly questionable culinary choice. You may have also heard the folk wisdom that dogs eat grass when they feel sick, which means you might be wondering if your dog has an illness you did not know about. While it is possible that your Dachshund is eating grass due to gastrointestinal distress, there are a number of other factors that can lead dogs to munch on the backyard lawn. Here are just a few that veterinarians have identified as possible solutions.
The Root of the Behavior
Nausea may be the most common reasons for Dachshunds eating grass, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion. Studies have revealed that fewer than 25 percent of dogs who are regular grass-eaters tend to throw up after engaging in the habit, while fewer than 10 percent of dogs appear to feel sick before they seek out grass. That said, Dachshunds are prone to stomach problems and are, shall we say, indiscriminate eaters. If your Dachshund is eating large amounts of grass, the dog may be ingesting something that is upsetting his or her stomach. Try to notice if your dog seems distressed before he or she eats grass. Many dogs lick the air or swallow repeatedly if they feel nauseous. If your dog does this and then goes out to eat some grass, see if he or she vomits afterward. This may indicate one of many gastrointestinal conditions that plague the Dachshund breed. If your dog seems to be eating grass more as a habit than as a form of self-medication, he or she may just like the taste. Should your dog roam the backyard seeking his or her favorite patch, you may have a grass gourmet instead of a troubled tummy on your hands.
Another possibility is that your dog is feeling particularly hungry or instinctively trying to correct a nutritional deficit. Grass is indigestible to dogs, and some veterinarians believe that dogs seek out things that they can't digest when they are not taking in the correct nutrition. This may be particularly common among dogs who are eating home-made food, which may not be formulated to offer a full range of nutrients. Finally, just as humans tend to eat when they feel bored, so do dogs. A Dachshund that munches on grass when he or she has been roaming the backyard for a while may just be looking for something to do, particularly if the dog feels like it should be lunch or snack time.
Encouraging the Behavior
So, how worried should you be about your dog's grass-eating behavior? Naturally, if your dog seems ill, it is not the lawn munching but rather the stomach upset that should be your primary concern. Because Dachshunds do have a predisposition to certain serious digestive conditions, including gastric torsion, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and pancreatitis, it is important to keep track of whether your dog is throwing up after he or she eats grass. If the vomit has blood or bile in it, the dog should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Likewise, if your dog is eating grass because he or she is nutritionally deficient, you will want to address that as a root cause before it impacts your dog's overall health. Check with a veterinarian to make sure that what you are feeding your dog has all the nutrients that he or she needs to be well-nourished.
You may not need a veterinarian's help if you find that your dog is eating grass to entertain himself or herself. If this is the case, a chew toy may be an appealing alternative and can keep your dog from turning your lawn into lunch. Extra walks and play time can also eliminate this and other boredom-induced misbehavior, as difficult as it may be to find extra time in your schedule. Conversely, should you find that your dog is a recreational grass eater, there may not be much for you to worry about. Veterinarians tend to classify grass-eating as a normal behavior that is not dangerous to dogs, as grass tends to pass through the system untouched. As long as your lawn is free of toxins, your dog won't benefit nutritionally from eating it, but it won't harm him or her either.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Your little grass-eater does depend on you to make sure that his or her snack is safe, whether or not you are working toward fixing whatever might be driving the behavior. If you use herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals on your lawn, you will need to switch to non-toxic products for as long as your dog is eating grass. You also need to be mindful of the different plants and debris that may be scattered about your lawn. Be sure that all dog droppings are picked up promptly, and check regularly for any trash or rocks that your dog might consume. Similarly, if there are any foxtail grass or other poisonous plants growing in your yard, keep your dog away from them. This can be tricky, but planting an herb or grass garden just for your dog can help to distract him or her from the dangerous parts of your lawn.
Whether or not you like your dog chewing on the grass that you may have carefully cultivated, the behavior itself is not harmful. As long as your Dachshund has a clean bill of health, the dog can snack on blades of grass to his or her heart's content. It may be a strange way to spend a dog day afternoon, but who are we to judge?