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Eating Grass


When a Pomeranian Eats Grass


This is such a common issue that countless information sources touch on this topic; however there is a problem that is just as large as the issue of eating grass itself: There is actually no scientific data that proves why dogs purposefully munch on and ingest grass. 

In fact, some studies disprove the most commonly listed reasons.

Most importantly, the element that Pom owners need to know about is whether or not it is detrimental to health if a Pomeranian eats grass.

Since you are very careful about what you feed your Pom for meals and snacks, and hopefully you are also careful regarding the quality of the water that you offer to your puppy or dog, if grass is ingested this does count toward a dog's overall diet and it is vital to know how this affects your Pom. 

In this section we will go over:
  • The most commonly listed reasons why dogs eat grass 
  • Studies and polls that appear to debunk much of this
  • Actual reasons for eating grass from the yard
  • Chemicals, bugs and other reasons why grass can be bad for Poms to eat
  • How to stop your Pomeranian from doing this
Cute Pomeranian puppy
Princess Fluffy, 7 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Raul and Daima 

Let's look at the most commonly listed reasons for canine grass consumption:

To induce vomiting - It is a popular thought that dogs will deliberately seek out grass if they want to induce vomiting to clear the stomach of food that is causing them to feel sick. 

The texture of the grass and edges of the blades are said to cause a dog to throw up. 

Interestingly, a few studies show that this really isn't true in many instances. 

In 2008 the University of California, Davis conducted a couple of studies on this. 
First, they polled 25 veterinary students who were also owners of dogs that ate grass on a regular basis. Only a very small percentage (8%) attested that their dog threw up afterward and none of them reported that they dog appeared to feel ill before eating the grass. 

Going a step further, 47 dog owners that routinely brought their pets to the university for outpatient vet services were polled. The majority of those people did say that their dogs ate grass or other plant-like elements from the outdoors (79%). However, only 12% of those pets vomited afterward and only 6 % appeared to have some sort of stomach distress beforehand.

The final step in this study was to expand this sort of questioning regarding grass consumption to a large group of pet owners. Out of 1571 dog owners, 68% stated that their dog ate grass at least once a week. Out of that group, the results on this were similar: Just 1/3 of those dogs vomited afterward and just 8% showed any signs of feeling sick beforehand.

So what does this tell us? 

From these polls, we can conclude that while a small number of dogs may seek out grass when feeling sick,  out of those dogs that do, only a small percentage will actually subsequently vomit; therefore this is not the reason in most cases.  More likely, vomiting is a reaction to the ingestion of grass for a small minority and not the dog's intended goal.

It is important for owners to know that while it is possible that a Pomeranian is eating grass due to his stomach being upset and wanting to vomit, this should not be the accepted reason. If owners believe that the Pom needs to eat grass solely for this reason, grass consumption may be allowed and this really isn't a good idea (more ahead on that). 
The body needs 'greens' - This is another commonly listed reason and perhaps true for a small number of Pomeranians, yet going to grass will not meet those needs.

There is a theory that if a dog is not receiving certain nutrients, that he will instinctively seek out those nutrients by eating grass and other outdoor plants. 

This is a bit of a contradiction of the first theory… how can a Pomeranian receive nutrients from grass if that grass supposedly will make the dog throw up?  

At any rate, it is important to keep in mind that grass does not contain many nutrients. In fact, it is not an easily digested food and the main nutrient that it holds is crude protein. 

Actual green vegetables including baby peas and green beans (two veggies that are safe and healthy for Pomeranian to eat) are packed with elements that grass from the yard is lacking: Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin A, Magnesium and Iron. Green beans also have Vitamin K. 
Pomeranian jumping high
Takara, 2 years old
"showing off her jumping skills"
Photo courtesy of Paul and Catherine Shinn
If a Pom is not on a well-balanced diet and is lacking certain nutrients, this goes hand in hand with being hungry which is something that we will dive into next. 

Actual Reasons Why Pomeranians Eat Grass

As you've read, a very small number of Pomeranians may eat grass to make themselves vomit, however this is not the most common reason by a long shot. In addition, if the diet is lacking nutrients, grass is not the answer to receiving those. So, let's look at why a Pom may love to eat grass: 

Hunger along with nutrient deficiency - A Pomeranian may lick his bowl clean and eat every morsel that you feed him, however if it is not the right type of food, that Pom may still be hungry. Is he lacking nutrients? 

Most likely, however it important to note is that since grass holds very little nutritional value and it may upset the stomach due to the blade's texture tickling the stomach and it being hard to digest, it will not help a Pom in the long run. 

One of the most common reasons why a dog may eat several meals per day yet still be able to eat more is due to the food having a high level of fillers. Fillers are 'empty' ingredients that bulk up kibble yet pass right through the body. 

They are very temporarily filling and do not properly provide the body with what it needs. It will appear that a Pom is eating enough, yet with a high percentage of the 'food' not actually being used to fuel the body, the puppy or dog will technically be malnourished and will not be reaching his daily calorie requirements. 

That Pom may then graze as if he's a white-tailed deer in a prairie and nibble away on grass to supplement his diet and as noted, this will be done in vain. 

Habit/ boredom - Dogs are funny creatures; if they have nothing to do, they often resort to a habit even if they do not gain much from doing the action. 

It's not all that uncommon for a Pomeranian to be brought outside and for the owner to then become distracted… perhaps checking their phone or saying hello to a neighbor…and then they look over and their Pom is munching away on grass as if he thinks he is a cow in a pasture.  

In many cases, the Pom was left to his own devices for a certain amount of time, didn't have anything better to do and metaphorically thought, 'okay, I guess I'll stay busy by nibbling on this grass!'

This can be avoided by interacting with your Pom and keeping him focused on the task at hand, whether this is going outside for potty training or heading out for a walk (more ahead on ways to stop a Pom from eating grass).

Curiosity - Have you ever gotten down very close to a stretch of grass in the morning and really studied how it sparkles with dew and how the sun reflects off of the shiny blades? Most likely you noticed this to some degree from a standing position. However, we must think about how this looks to a Pomeranian that is mere inches from the grass.  

That soft, dew-dropped, sparkling grass can look awfully tempting to a curious dog. Canines of all ages use their mouths to figure out what things are; and even if a Pomeranian has no intention of eating grass as if it is a patch of yummy treats spread out before him, if he simply mouths it to figure out 'what is this' and/or 'it is worth my time to chew on this' he may discover that the moist blades or interesting texture fits his chewing urges at the time. 

The next thing you know, he's eating it… and that can quickly turn into a habit as we discussed earlier. Dogs can rapidly transition from an action done out of exploration to a pattern of repeating that action simply because there is no better alternative at that moment. 

Why Eating Grass Can Be Detrimental

Many owners wonder if it is safe for a Pomeranian to eat grass and you may be surprised at the answer. There are quite a few reasons why it is bad for a Pomeranian to ingest grass and weeds from the yard or park:

1) Digestive issues - As touched on above, some but not all dogs will vomit after eating grass. This is due to the texture that can irritate the stomach and cause it to come right back out. When a dog throws up something that he ate, not just that element is regurgitated; fluid is often lost as well and this can cause dehydration. 

Even just a 1% decrease in normal water levels in the body can cause mild dehydration that can disrupt a dog's focus and cause lethargy

In addition to this, since grass is not easily digested it can cause discomfort and other issues as it passes through the intestines. In some cases of very high grass ingestion, intestinal blockage can occur which is considered to be an emergency, often needing surgical treatment. 
2) Ingestion of chemicals - Studies have shown that just breathing in lawn care chemicals can lead to troubling health issues, however if a dog ingests them it can be toxic. This applies to both pesticides (used to control weeds) and insecticides (used to control insects). 

Unless your yard is large and you use no chemicals at all, some elements to consider is that a neighbor may use one or both of these lawn applications that may run off into your yard via rainfall and that parks and other areas that have public grass may be treated with toxic compounds. 

Don't assume that a popular park is keep free of chemicals. It is not uncommon for parks used for children's sport games and family picnics to be sprayed to control weeds or to keep grass from growing around trees. 

Cities will often post warning signs only 24 hours before and after applying chemicals to the grass. However, these toxins can actually remain there for months or in some cases, even years. 

If a Pomeranian were to ingest grass that was just treated or were to eat chemical coated grass on a regular basis, this can lead to many health issue including but not limited to: allergy-like symptoms, breathing problems, fever, eye pain, vomiting, abdominal cramping, inflammation, trouble with vision, incontinence, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, dizziness and/or hyperactivity. 
Pomeranian in grassy park
Moji, 2 years old
Photo courtesy of Madelaine Lopez
Long term effects include but are not limited to kidney and/or liver damage, neurological issues, weakened immune system can cancer. 
3) Bug bites - Most common in the summer, the risk of insect bites rises the more that a Pomeranian noses in the grass or pokes around at the base of bushes and other areas. 

There is always the risk of red ant bites; however most common danger is wasps, bees and other flying stinging insects.

Many of these actually build nests burrowed into the ground (and not high in trees) and will therefore often hover right above grass. 

It is not uncommon for toy sized dogs have terrible allergic reactions when stung and while this can sometimes be treated with OTC antihistamines at home like Benadryl, it can be severe enough to require emergency veterinary treatment. 

How to Stop a Pomeranian From Eating Grass

1) Offer high quality food and snacks. Since low quality dog food can lead to both hunger and nutrient deficiency and of course since a quality diet is vital for a Pomeranian's overall health (though not specifically proven to cause a dog to ingest grass), you may want to reassess what your Pom is eating. 

Take time to choose one of the better foods that is free of fillers, and packed with wholesome foods that will properly fuel the body and provide the right amount of nutrients. 

Some dogs eat almost as much for snacks as they do for meals, so treats should be evaluated as well.
full size Pomeranian
Photo courtesy of Patricia Gaduzo from Gibraltar
2) Keep your Pom focused. When you take your Pomeranian outside for a walk or even just to go to the bathroom, it's best to keep your dog engaged which will keep him focused on other things and far less likely to eat grass. 

This is always a great opportunity to practice commands ('Sit' when putting attaching his leash and 'Heel' when walking anywhere, whether or not that distance is short or long). 

When a dog feels that he has a job to do, this can give him a great sense of purpose and a boost of self-confidence when that task is complete. 

If you teach your Pomeranian to heel, your daily walks can be both beneficial for health but also a great method of allowing your Pom to gain self-esteem and of course will help keep him on track and unable to mouth rocks, grass or other outdoor elements.  
3) Implement training. This breed tends to crave his owner's attention and receiving positive or negative feedback can greatly affect a Pom's behavior. If somehow despite trying to keep a Pom focused, he starts to eat grass, an owner should give a firm 'No'. 
This may need to be done with a loud clap to gain the dog's attention. As soon as the puppy or dog is looking at you, offer praise for not eating it anymore and immediately refocus his attention elsewhere. You will want to avoid offering a tasty treat or overly praising your Pom, since this clever little breed can quickly learn to mouth grass just to then receive a reward when you command him to stop. 
Therefore, paying close attention to him, keeping him busy with heeling and giving a quick 'No', follow by a 'good dog' and continuing on is best. 
4) Do not allow your Pom to be outside alone. Chances are that you know this rule, of course, but it is worth mentioning. 

There may be extenuating circumstances… an owner may let their Pom out into an enclosed yard with full intention of following close behind, but then the doorbell or phone rings and the Pom is now alone outside. 

Too many things can go wrong when a Pom is outside by himself, even in what could be considered a 'safe' enclosed area. 

He may eat grass, ingest poisonous plants, stick his nose into an ant hill, find a tiny hole under the fence to squeeze though or even be swooped up by a hawk (this really can happen). Please play it safe and always supervise your Pom.
cute Pomeranian puppy yawning
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