Why Does My Chihuahua Eat Grass?
You’ve probably noticed your little Chihuahua munching down on the grass while enjoying time outdoors. Is this something you should worry about though? It’s quite a common concern for many dog owners – not just Chi’s. In fact, one of the most common questions veterinarians are asked by pet owners is – is it safe for my dog to eat grass?
When Is It A Safety Concern?
You feed your pup, watch them enjoy their food, and then run outside for a delicious dessert of fresh green grass. It confuses many dog owners, but for chihuahua’s every threat is bigger and scarier, meaning Chi owners are extra cautious! There are many myths and theories about what causes dogs to eat grass, but in the end, all owners want to know is that their pup is safe.
Don’t worry it’s perfectly normal, and usually quite safe. Actually, a study performed by The University of California indicated, of 1,571 dog owners, 68% said their dog ate grass on a daily or weekly basis! There are a few things to be mindful of as your Chihuahua chows down, however, especially since they’re much tinier than most breeds.
Beware of Toxins
Having a tiny stature means Chi’s also have a tiny tummy. It’s because of this Chihuahuas are more likely to experience sensitivity to grass and other toxins. If you use pesticides or other chemicals on your grass, or in the area recently, keep your pup away! Even the smallest trace of certain mulch, fertilizers, chemicals like anti-freeze, or even plants can be harmful to toy breeds like Chihuahuas.
Be mindful of the vegetation where you live and what types of plants can be harmful to dogs. Plants like lilies, daffodils, aloe vera, and tulips can all make dogs very sick. With most Chihuahua’s weighing under 8 pounds, they’re at much higher risk of having a reaction to a little nibble of a toxic plant. All varieties of grass are safe and non-toxic, but it’s very important to know the area they’re grazing in!
For bigger breeds, it’s not as much of a hazard, but Chihuahua’s have little mouths and throats. Things that aren’t normally choking hazards can cause big problems for little pups. Always keep an eye out for what your little Chi puts in their mouth, especially when you’re away from your personal lawn or yard space.
Risk of Parasites
There’s always a chance the grass they're eating could be dirty… with poop! It’s awful, we know – but it’s true! If you’re in a public space where other dogs walk, roam, and do their business, it’s important to be extra careful. It can be possible to contract parasites such as ringworm, roundworm, and hookworm by eating grass that contains traces of feces.
You know how hard it can be to scoop every piece - it happens! Be sure to keep your pup up to date on their shots and vet visits to help prevent things like this, but also try to limit grass eating in high dog traffic areas.
Everything in Moderation.
It may become a health concern if your Chihuahua is obsessively eating grass. Pica is a medical condition that causes dogs to crave eating non-food items, like dirt, cloth, feces, or grass. If left untreated, your pup could inherit digestive, nutritional, or even tooth problems. Grass contains silica in high concentrations, which over time, can cause many oral issues, including tooth decay. If excessive grass-eating seems to be an issue with your dog, be sure to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Why Is My Chihuahua Eating Grass?
For as long as we have kept dogs as pets, we’ve wondered why they do this. Despite offering food and treats, they all seem to want to eat grass at some point – even picky Chihuahua’s. The most common belief is that Chi’s and other pups do this to relieve stomach irritation, or to induce vomiting, but could it be something else? Veterinarians have researched endlessly and have considered many possible causes, but the most common theories are:
1. Grass helps induce vomiting
2. It fulfills a nutrient deficiency
3. Satisfies natural grazing instincts
4. They’re bored, or they just like it!
To Help With Digestion or Illness
It’s commonly thought that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting and improve digestion, but it’s been debated by many. When The University of California completed their study, only 22% of dogs reported vomiting after eating grass, with a mere 8% showing signs of sickness beforehand. This was an isolated survey, but many sources agree that not all dogs throw up from eating grass.
Treating a Nutrient Deficiency?
Veterinarians have researched whether grazing on grass is a natural response to nutrients that could be lacking in a dog’s diet. The kibble we feed our furry friends doesn’t quite close to what they’d eat in their natural habitat after all. Although it can provide some additional fiber, there is little, if any, nutritional value in the grass, leaving vets and researchers scratching their heads, and in search of other causes.
Dogs are often believed to be carnivorous, and even though they love juicy, meaty treats, a dog’s diet can vary quite a bit in the wild. To get an understanding of why chihuahuas and other dogs eat grass, researchers studied the stool samples of wolves. Results show that up to 47% of samples contained grass. This could be solid proof that canines instinctively graze on grass.
Sheer Boredom, Or… It Just Tastes Good!
Some veterinarians just chalk it up to boredom or personal tastes. Like us, dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds have personalities of their own. Some dogs may nibble on grass when they're anxious or bored, and some might just like the taste! Many dog owners even swear their pups graze and pick out specific kinds of grass – maybe they’re looking for the greenest, juiciest blade?
How To Stop Your Chihuahua From Eating Grass?
Unless you’re Chihuahua is in your own backyard, or another trustworthy space, it’s probably best to prevent them from eating grass altogether. But how can you do that? Don’t worry, we have a few quick tips that can help!
Keep Them On a Leash
Having any dog on a lead is vital to their safety, ensuring they don’t run away, get lost, or eat grass! Well, they help stop them from eating anything they shouldn’t really. Always walk your Chi on a leash, and give a gentle tug and direct them away if they try to eat anything, including grass.
Divert Their Attention
If your dog is off-leash in a designated park, or safe space, it may be a little more challenging to get them to stop chowing on grass. The best trick is to keep your Chihuahua occupied! Play with your pup with balls and other toys or engage in training for treats. Dog’s love nothing more than your love and affection, the perfect thing to curb boredom grass snacking.
Use Positive Reinforcement
As we mentioned, grazing on grass can be a natural instinct for dogs – so we shouldn’t punish them for it. Perhaps there is good reason for their persistent craving, whether it’s a fiber supplement, digestion aid, or a part of a rounded diet. If you’re limiting your dogs' snack time on grass for their safety, give them positive rewards when deterring them.
In The End, Use Your Judgement.
It seems we may never fully understand exactly why Chihuahua’s eat grass. Since dogs have been enjoying our lawns as a snack for some time now, I wouldn’t worry too much about some nibbles here and there. That being said – the most important thing to every dog owner, is their pup's safety. If you notice your dog is eating more grass than “normal” or they’re vomiting a lot, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Remember, Chi’s are only tiny little creatures, and are extremely sensitive to toxins. It’s always better to be safe and take them to the vet, in the event, it wasn’t only grass they were nibbling on.