If you’re wondering why Chihuahuas eat grass, you’re in luck:
Here you’ll discover the truth about Chihuahuas and this weird habit.
Why do Chihuahuas eat grass?
Chihuahuas eat grass for multiple reasons, such as they like it, it’s hard-wired in their DNA, they’re bored or anxious, and they’re not satisfied with their food. Eating grass helps Chihuahuas with digestion and purging intestinal parasites, and curiosity is also a factor.
Let’s discuss these reasons (and the dangers) in more detail below…
7 real reasons why Chihuahuas eat Grass
#1: They like it
The simplest explanation is this:
They enjoy eating grass.
Just look at this cutie munching on grass:
They like the texture and the taste of grass in their mouth.
Dogs love eating grass in the spring.
They also find some grass irresistible for chewing, such as foxtail grass, when it’s green and soft.
Caution: Foxtail grass, when dried and brittle, is dangerous for your dogs.
#2: Bored or anxious
You’re walking in the dog park. You’re happy. Your dog is comfortable.
Then you see one of your friends.
If your dog could speak, they’d probably say something like, ‘Oh boy, that’s going to take at least one hour.
And that’s exactly what happens.
You stand still and talk. And your dog… well… they become bored.
That’s why suddenly the trash in the park becomes more interesting.
The same with the wind blowing.
And… with grass-eating.
This happens when your dog lacks physical and mental stimulation.
They become bored and anxious while waiting for you.
Caution: Do not leave your Chihuahua alone for a long time. Accidents can happen. Hire a pet sitter or take them to the doggie daycare.
#3: Hunger and nutritional deficiency
Sometimes it just baffles you. Your Chihuahua is a small dog, yet they go hungry fast.
When you check the food, it’s the recommended amount by your vet.
Plus, your Chihuahua eats every single meal on schedule. There are also treats now and then.
Yet barely an hour later, your Chihuahua is munching on the grass in the backyard.
Why are they still hungry?
It all boils down to the quality of their food.
Even if their food is expensive but lacks nutritional value, it won’t satisfy your Chihuahua.
These days, most dog foods are made of fillers and have no nutritional value.
They make the amount of food appear a lot more than there is.
As a result, your dog’s body absorbs no nutrients from these foods.
That’s why they get hungry quickly.
#4: Hard-wired in DNA
Dogs have long been domesticated.
Now they live in houses with their humans. And we feed them primarily meat-based products.
I’m sure you think that dogs are carnivores.
Interestingly, dogs in the wild were omnivores, and their diet consisted of meat and plant material.
Wolves were observed to eat grass and berries.
This is hard-wired in their DNA.
According to this study, modern-day dogs inherited grass-eating from their ancestors.
Wolves ate grass-eating animals such as squirrels and deer and ate the whole body, even the stomachs filled with it.
#5: Purge intestinal parasites
The researchers of one study in 2008 have an exciting finding.
They theorized that dogs in the wild ate that to assist in purging intestinal parasites.
Some of these were roundworms and tapeworms.
According to the researchers, the fiber in the plant material increases intestinal contractions.
In addition, the thread wraps around the worms and purges them.
Dogs in the wild were constantly exposed to these parasites.
But your Chihuahua benefits from eating that since it is high in fiber. Fiber aids in softening stool and easing bowel movements.
#7: Curiosity that becomes a habit
Dogs, in general, are curious beings.
Take them for a walk, and they will sniff and investigate things.
At the dog park, they will smell trees or plants and check out loose soil or plant.
They will use their nose and mouth to find out about things.
Next thing you know, they are busy munching on that. If you do nothing about it, it will become a habit.
Caution: Even though the grass is non-toxic.
Nine dangers when your Chihuahuas eat grass
#1: Tooth decay
Dental disease is prevalent among Chihuahuas.
They suffer from bad breath, loose or discolored teeth, and bleeding from the mouth.
These things keep them from eating properly. Thus, it leads to appetite or weight loss.
Throw in some grass, and your Chihuahua may face more severe problems.
But how can grass lead to tooth decay?
Shouldn’t meat be the food that causes tooth decay?
Interestingly, the grass is high in silica (silicon dioxide), and this is an abrasive compound responsible for eroding your Chihuahua’s enamel.
But what about cows that eat grass all day? How can they not suffer from dental diseases from overeating grass?
Fortunately for cows, they have teeth that grow continually and fast. This enables them to replace worn tooth surfaces.
But canines are not blessed with teeth like those.
If your dog eats that regularly, it hastens the wearing down of the enamel. Decay takes place at a higher rate, thus leading to tooth loss.
#2: Toxic plants in the garden
In North America, the common varieties of lawn grass are non-toxic.
But toxic plants are another story.
There are hundreds of plants out there that are toxic to dogs.
Plant poisoning in dogs does not happen frequently, and this is because their diet does not usually contain plants.
But when it happens, it’s pretty severe. Depending on the poisoning, it could even lead to death.
You may have some of these plants in your yard without you knowing.
Such ones are:
- Lily of the valley.
These are all dangerous for your Chihuahua.
A study on Allium species poisoning proved this. The study found that onion, garlic, leek, and chives are toxic to dogs.
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Poisoning happens after a dog consumes a single large quantity. Or repeatedly ingests small portions.
This leads to:
- Loss of appetite.
Also, it damages red blood cells and causes anemia.
#3: Pesticides and insecticides
Homeowners use pesticides to treat their lawns. Without knowing it, their dogs ingest the chemicals when dogs eat the grass.
Harmful chemicals in pesticides include:
When your Chihuahua ingests pesticide, it could lead to illness or death.
Let’s say you don’t treat your lawn with pesticides. How about outside?
What about the patches of grass along the road when you walk your Chihuahua?
What about the grassy area in dog parks? The grass may be sprayed with insecticides that remain for weeks.
Caution: The most dangerous insecticides are carbamates or organophosphates. If ingested, your dog will show signs such as extreme lethargy and, in some cases, collapse.
#4: Parasites and bugs
When out for a walk, keep your Chihuahua from eating grass. You never know if other dogs had relieved themselves on that grass.
If those dogs were infected with parasites, your Chihuahua might also get infected.
Caution: You don’t have to worry if your Chihuahua is on a worm preventative medicine. But if not, it’s essential to take them to your vet.
Aside from parasites, your Chihuahua can be exposed to bugs. Stinging insects make their home under the ground.
Your Chihuahua pokes their nose at the grass and disturbs these bugs. The bugs will bite or sting when threatened.
If your Chihuahua is stung, watch out for an allergic reaction or toxic overload.
Take them to the vet if needed.
Do you use mulch on your lawn?
Landscapers and gardeners usually use this on lawns.
Mulch, specifically cocoa mulch, is very dangerous for your Chihuahua. Just like chocolates.
Cocoa mulch contains shells from the cocoa bean, releasing a smell that attracts animals.
Both cocoa mulch and chocolate have a toxic compound called theobromine.
Along with pesticides, we use fertilizers to keep our lawns looking green and healthy. Unfortunately, these are dangerous for your dogs.
And because Chihuahuas are tiny, they are more at risk of poisoning from fertilizers.
#7: Sharp grass
The grass is non-toxic but not entirely safe for your Chihuahua to eat.
Take, for example, the foxtail grass. This is more common in the western part of the United States.
As it matures, it grows a bristly spike that resembles a fox’s tail. Hence, the name foxtail.
And as it grows, it begins to dry out and becomes brittle. The foxtail turns yellow and then falls apart into segments.
Caution: Foxtail grass can grow anywhere, from lawns to cracks in the sidewalk. This grass grows fast, and apparently, dogs love to chew it.
Each segment has central and lateral awns. These awns help the seed burrow deep into the soil.
There are several ways this grass can harm your Chihuahua. First, when dogs sniff them into their noses.
Second, when the awns somehow get into the ears.
Third, when awns are lodged between the toes, causing infection.
The awns are sharp and can pierce organs when ingested.
#8: Other toxic chemicals
Aside from pesticides and fertilizers, your Chihuahua can get poisoned by antifreeze leaching.
Caution: The antifreeze’s taste is very appealing to dogs, and its ingredient, ethylene glycol, is poisonous.
#9: Intestinal blockage
Dogs cannot correctly digest grass. That’s because grass has cellulose fiber that is tough for dogs to break down.
So when dogs eat grass, it just passes through their stomach without being digested, accumulating in the intestines the more grass the dog eats.
This blockage prevents other food from passing through the intestine.
Caution: Your dog may get sick if this is not treated immediately.
Here are some tips to stop your Chihuahua from eating grass.
Seven tips when your Chihuahuas eat grass
#1: Make them busy
Sometimes, your Chihuahua is just bored.
When they are left alone, they may destroy things. Or eat that.
You need to provide a consistent exercise routine for your Chihuahua. Spend at least 30 minutes each day for exercise.
Take them for a walk or a run around the neighborhood. Play with them with games that provide mental stimulation.
Another way to keep them busy is by giving them toys.
Puzzle toys can keep them entertained.
Some toys have flaps or parts that must be flipped. Some have removable or movable parts so dogs can get hidden treats.
These toys provide mental stimulation. But they may lose interest once they have figured out how to get the treat.
The trick here is to keep a rotation of their toys and not give the toys all at once.
Just let them play with a few until these no longer excite them. Keep them away and then introduce a new set of toys.
This way, your Chihuahua shows new enthusiasm for the toys.
Note: Nothing can replace the time you spend with your Chihuahua.
#2: Give them high-fiber dog food
Chihuahuas eat grass because something is missing in their diet.
Fiber, for example. And they tend to search where they can find it.
If your Chihuahua does this, consult a vet, and ask them for recommendations for high-fiber dog food.
Better go for the highest quality you can find.
Chihuahuas are tiny, and they don’t need a lot of food to eat anyway. So what little they have to eat, ensure it’s the best quality.
#3: Consult the vet
If your dog ‘self-medicates’ by eating grass, something is wrong.
Observe your Chihuahua. If they eat grass regularly and it bothers you, go to the vet.
Your vet will carry out tests to see what’s wrong. Your Chihuahua may have other serious illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease.
It’s better to have it treated as early as possible.
#4: Use a leash when walking your Chihuahua
No telling what your Chihuahua may be up to when out for a walk.
That’s why it’s better that you use a leash and a harness.
Monitoring them is better and easier this way. Also, you prevent them from going where there might be snakes or other predators.
So in case you catch them eating grass, you can pull on the leash.
However, do not just pull at the leash.
Pull slowly and gently to stop them from eating grass. Exert just enough force to get their attention.
#5: Divert your Chihuahua’s attention
Because dogs are curious, they will sniff this way and that.
If they start to eat grass, divert their attention.
The good thing is that Chihuahuas have short attention spans, and diverting their attention works well in stopping them from eating grass.
There are many ways you can divert their attention.
First, use toys as a diversionary tactic. Throw a small ball and encourage them to get it or chase it.
The moving ball will be a welcome diversion for your Chihuahua’s grazing.
Second, use commands. A recall command will catch their attention away from eating grass.
Third, use the site or heel commands to stop unwanted behaviors like grass eating.
Caution: Avoid using treats to divert their attention, and your Chihuahua may mistake it as a reward for eating grass.
#6: Plant grass for your dogs
You may not be able to stop your Chihuahua from eating grass.
But you can stop them from eating grass treated with chemicals.
Plant grass or herb that is safe for them to eat.
Try pet grass. It is simply wheatgrass or combined with other healthful grass.
Wheatgrass contains a lot of nutrients that your Chihuahua can benefit from.
The best time to plant pet grass is spring, then grow it year-round. Plant it in pots in sunny areas.
Place one right next to your dog’s food and water dish.
Once the grass is grown, allow your Chihuahua to eat it regularly.
This is very safe for your Chihuahua because the grass has no pesticides.
#7: Apply positive reinforcement
When your Chihuahua eats grass, do not punish them.
They likely inherited grass-eating from their ancestors. And you can’t do anything about it.
But there are other ways to stop them from eating grass. Try diversionary tactics, positive reinforcement, and basic obedience commands.
These are more effective than punishment.
As previously discussed, grab your Chihuahua’s attention away from eating grass. Use recall commands such as ‘Come here, girl.’
You can also use toys and spend time playing with your Chihuahua.
With you giving them your attention, your Chihuahua will soon forget about the grass.
On the other hand, positive reinforcement rewards good behavior, and you want to encourage them always to display good behavior.
Treats may not be the best form of reward here, and your Chihuahua may mistake it as a reward for munching on grass. Thus, they will keep eating grass to get your attention.
Instead, use play as a reward. Spend more time doing activities that your dog will enjoy.