Why do dogs eat leaves?

April 13, 2012

Dogs really do have some very unusual habits. When you take your pet to dog parks it would not be uncommon to hear other owners complain about their dog’s predilection to eat non-edible things. Dogs eat all sorts of things. These animals are not fastidious eaters. They would eat spoiled food when they raid the trash can, they would eat poop, mud, bugs, grasses and leaves and many other things too. We do so love our dogs. These are well fed and well cared for animals. This makes the dog’s habit of eating non-edible things more perplexing to an owner. Some dog have developed a fondness for eating leaves. Dog experts tell us that this behavior was handed down to present day dogs by their ancestors. Food in the wild is scarce. Dogs are carnivorous and their diet is mainly composed of the meat of a prey. If hunting is not so fruitful, the dogs would go for days without eating and most would subsist on roots, fruits, berries, grasses and leaves. As some of the dog’s preys are herbivores, the grasses and the leaves on the stomach of the prey will be eaten by the dog thus our canine friends have developed a fondness for eating leaves.

Domesticated dogs are fed commercial dog food. Most low grade commercial dog food contains cereal fillers. When the dog eats leaves it could be trying to correct a dietary imbalance. However, this fact was refuted by dog experts given that leaves, although high in fibre content has very low nutritional value. Therefore is it highly unlikely that when dogs eat leaves they are instinctively trying to fill up a nutritional deficiency. Up to this very day, after many experiments and studies conducted to shed light to canine behavior, the workings of a dog’s mind is still puzzling to humans. Commercial dog food contains preservatives and coloring. Continuous intake can lead to digestive concerns. It would seem that dogs know when to self medicate. A dog would intentionally eat leaves to induce vomiting to relieve a stomach upset. It would be noticed that dogs that are off their food or one that has been raiding the trash can would eat leaves, vomit afterwards and be its usual “greedy” self after a while. Another reason why the dog eats leaves is because it wants to attract the master’s attention. “Why is my momma not playing with me?” “Why is she caring for that unmoving green thing?” “Might as well eat it to eliminate the competition!”

Eating leaves should not be made a major concern. Dogs are naturally inquisitive and a leaf glistening with dew may look very inviting and appetizing. Eating leaves won’t hurt your dog as long as the leaves are not sprayed with toxic chemicals and fertilizers. Some plants are poisonous and continuous ingestion of the leaves could result to medical concerns such as cardio respiratory arrest and kidney failure. In such cases it would be necessary to curb the dog’s partiality to leaves. Spraying the leaves with the all natural and non-toxic Bitter Apple may do the trick. Though if the bitter taste did not stop the dog from bingeing on the poisonous leaves then you may want to give away your prized Western Alpenrose and American Rhododendron. The dog’s life is more important after all.

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