Pets and grass

Pets and grass.

Why does my dog eat grass? This is a question we get all the time in the shop. “My dog is getting a well balanced diet, why does he eat grass?”

First and most common answer, they like it. We all have odd tastes we enjoy, for some pets, grass can be one. Not saying this is always the case, but sometimes the simplest answer can be the right one.

Most people ascribe the eating of grass to the animal missing something in its diet. While there is no science to back these claims up, that dogs self supplement from grass to fill a nutritional lack. While grass may have nutritional components that a dog may need, this is an unlikely reason.

The other reason commonly stated is that they are trying to throw up because they are in gastric distress (tummy ache). If the dog is chowing down large quantities, if can be that it is trying to trigger vomiting. Activity like this, especially if repeated, is worthy of having a vet visit to rule out potential medical concerns.

If its just an occasional blade here and there, nothing to worry about, but if they start doing it on a large scale, especially puppies, it can cause issues and should be looked at by your vet.

Cats, on the other hand, seem to crave grass, and many people offer their indoor cats a patch of oat grass to nibble on. Again, in moderation, no harm. But if they get obsessive and mow it all down, there might be something going on.

On the other end, we get questions every day on why grass doesn’t like my dog. Some dogs are far worse than others, creating large dead areas in well cared for lawns, especially in dry periods. Others have little to no effect. The question is “Why?”.

I wish I had a one size fits all perfect answer for this one, but I don’t. If a dog is creating those yellow patches in your lawn, it is because their urine contains a lot of nitrogen compounds, fertilizer like components, and they burn basically by overfertilizing. There are some water treatments designed to remove nitrogen from the dog’s drinking water, but a much easier way to achieve that is use bottled R/O or distilled water, neither of which has nitrogen compounds. A lot cheaper than buying rocks, and more effective.

Other reasons for burn are salts or abnormal pH. Acid or alkaline, this can change the soil pH, and kill the grass. There are products designed to change the urine pH, but unless a vet recommends one, I wouldn’t use them. Changing urine pH to save a lawn seems kind of drastic, especially if that negatively affects the pet.

The best prevention for yellow patches is to train the dog to use a pee area that has no grass. A patch of pea gravel or hardscape, or a patch of artificial turf that is easily rinsed can be very good options. If you can’t train the dog where to go, the most effective “treatment” for the affected lawn is watering. Dilute the urine, reduce the effect. Whether it is watering the entire lawn more frequently, or dousing where the dog pees each time they do it with a hose or watering can, you will be reducing the concentration of the damage causing components, and can leave your lawn lush and green.

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