Table of Contents
- Why do dogs eat grass?
- They Like to Eat Grass
- It Is The Instinct of Wild Dogs
- Relieve Their Upset Stomach
- Suffering From Painful Acid Reflux
- Digestive Need – Dogs Need Roughage (Fiber)
- Your Shih Tzu’s Diet Is Lacking Nutrients
- Control Of Intestinal Parasites By Eating Grass
Why do dogs eat grass?
As a Shih Tzu owner you may have seen him occasionally nibble on a blade of grass.
Or maybe you see him do it more frequently.
Even though it might seem strange, it’s actually a fairly common habit.
Many dog owners (not just of Shih Tzus) may have noticed this behavior.
Medical experts often describe this habit with the medical Latin word pica.
Pica means magpie, which is a bird that eats a wide variety of foods.
Pica refers to the tendency or craving to eat substances other than normal food.
This is not something worry about immediately, as it is not uncommon for dogs to show signs of pica.
Even though this might be considered normal behavior, the truth is that if you would ask the experts why does my Shih Tzu eat grass, they are not 100% sure why dogs eat grass.
It is safe for you to assume that your Shih Tzu exhibit this behavior for different reasons.
They Like to Eat Grass
Let us start with the obvious explanation why your Shih Tzu eats grass.
He might simply just like it and enjoy the taste of grass.
He may enjoy the taste or the texture of grass in his mouth.
It Is The Instinct of Wild Dogs
Your cute Shih Tzu a wild dog?
All dogs as we know them today are domesticated wolves.
More specifically, dogs are a direct descendant of the gray wolf, including your Shih Tzu.
Scientists say that canines evolved as omnivores and would eat whatever was available.
That includes vegetation and the stomach contents of their herbivorous prey.
So, your pooch may simply have the innate desire and canine behavior to eat grass.
If that is the case it reflects natural behavior and should not be something to worry about.
Relieve Their Upset Stomach
One common assumption is that your dog eats grass to relieve its upset tummy.
The thought is that your Shih Tzu eats grass when he needs to vomit.
And indeed, there are some dogs that eat grass and will then vomit shortly afterwards.
Overall, it seems that fewer than a quarter vomit from eating grass.
What remains unclear is whether your Shih Tzu had a stomachache before eating grass and tried to soothe it?
Or did he get a stomachache caused by eating grass.
So far experts assume that dogs do not indulge into grass eating as a form of self-medication.
Shih Tzus have a relatively high metabolism because of their small size.
Metabolism refers to all processes in the body that break down and convert ingested substances to provide the energy and nutrients needed to sustain life.
Some Shih Tzus have a sensitive stomach, and cannot eat just what ever they like.
Sensitive stomach or related health issues may be the reason for your dog’s stomach upset, and a desire to munch grass.
Suffering From Painful Acid Reflux
If your otherwise healthy Shih Tzu exhibits symptoms of:
- stomach distress
- excessive gas
- excessive vomiting
- excessive drooling
- reluctant eating
then he could be suffering from an upset stomach or acid reflux.
Other symptoms, similar to those for humans, but more difficult to ascertain with your dog are:
- chest pain
- a burning sensation in the throat
- whining or howling – evidence of pain
Acid reflux – also known as GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – is a painful condition where the stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, and into the throat.
The esophagus is the tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.
Acid reflux in dogs this is a common problem and may occur at any age.
The gastric stomach acid causes damage to the protective mucus lining the esophagus.
This can result in inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis).
Your Shih Tzu eating grass can be a sign of acid reflux.
A common recommendation is to introduce changes in your dog’s diet.
High-fat foods can worsen acid reflux.
Therefore, the best prevention is a healthy diet that is low in fatty foods.
Boiled chicken, rice, and/or blanched broccoli can help to reduce the acid reflux.
Whenever you are in doubt, please visit your veterinarian.
Digestive Need – Dogs Need Roughage (Fiber)
Grazing grass may fill a digestive need of your Shih Tzu.
Grass is a good source of fiber and dogs need roughage in their diets.
Roughly three-quarter of the dog’s immune system is situated in the stomach and intestines.
Roughage and fiber sit in the digestive system tract of your dog.
Fiber not only is a source of energy for the cells in the intestine.
It is also important for the well-being of the digestive system.
It supports the smooth functioning of the system.
Eating grass may help your Shih Tzu digest food and pass stool.
Even though most commercial dog foods – both moist and dry – contain enough fiber, you might need to check this.
Your Shih Tzu’s Diet Is Lacking Nutrients
Besides a need for fiber, eating grass may on some occasions be a consequence of a lack in certain nutrients and minerals.
These may include iron, zinc, and phosphorous.
If your Shih Tzu has a nutritional deficiency, he may need a food upgrade.
One specific nutrient is plant super food Chlorophyll.
Many assume Chlorophyll to be super good for dogs, and great for digestion.
Chlorophyll is a green pigment.
Plants and algae carry it.
It is a lot like your Shih Tzu’s hemoglobin (that part of your dog’s red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout his body).
Grass is difficult to digest for your dog.
Even though grass contains chlorophyll, it is not a great source of this nutrient.
Fortunately, it is not that difficult to provide your Shih Tzu with chlorophyll via small portions of:
- steamed or minced kale
- green beans parsley
- celery and peas, or
Talk with your vet about food options that might help address the issue.
Dry Kibble Quality Issues
Kibble, or dry dog food, is probably the most popular type of food for dogs.
A great number of dog owners prefer kibble over wet dog food.
Despite the fact that kibble may not be the most tasty food for their furry friend.
It tends to be a good nutritional source for your Shih Tzu.
Kibble basically is ground up ingredients shaped into pellets.
These pellets are comprised of meat, vegetables, grains and other materials.
For Shih Tzu owners, choosing a kibble can be a difficult and arduous task.
There are so many brands and varieties to choose from nowadays.
And of course you only want the best for your pet, that is what he deserves.
Given that there are so many options, it should not be a surprise that not every kibble is equal.
Be alert for those that boast about how “organic” and “all natural” they are.
In reality many of these kibbles are low quality and loaded with filler.
And consequently, these may lead to an upset stomach.
Control Of Intestinal Parasites By Eating Grass
Some believe that by eating grass on a regular basis, dogs can prevent a buildup by purging their systems of any intestinal parasites.
These intestinal parasites are organisms that live in the intestines and can interfere with your dog’s digestion of food.
Parasites like for instance roundworms can be a real problem for dogs.
They can cause a host of health problems, not just stomach problems, but also skin infections and even death.
Your Shih Tzu eating grass is one of the most visible tools that the dog employs to help itself stay healthy.
If your dog has this problem, you should consider giving them a proper treatment.
Remember in all cases dealing with medical issues: when you are not sure, your veterinarian has far more effective medications to treat the problem!