Characterisation of plant eating in dogs

Karen Lynn Chieko Sueda, Benjamin Hart, Kelly Davis Cliff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Grass or plant eating is a widely recognized behaviour amongst domestic dogs. We first estimated the prevalence of plant eating by administering a written survey to owners of healthy dogs visiting the outpatient service of a veterinary medical teaching hospital for routine health maintenance procedures. Of 47 owners systematically surveyed whose dogs had daily exposure to plants, 79% reported that their dog had eaten grass or other plants. Using an internet survey targeting owners of plant-eating dogs, we then acquired information regarding the frequency and type of plants eaten, frequency with which dogs appeared ill before eating plants and frequency with which vomiting was seen afterwards. Of 3340 surveys returned, 1571 met enrollment criteria. Overall, 68% of dogs were reported to eat plants on a daily or weekly basis with the remainder eating plants once a month or less. Grass was the most frequently eaten plant by 79% of dogs. Only 9% were reported to frequently appear ill before eating plants and only 22% were reported to frequently vomit afterwards. While no relationship was found between sex, gonadal status, breed group or diet type with regard to frequency or type of plants eaten, a younger age was significantly associated with: (1) an increase in frequency of plant eating; (2) an increase in consuming non-grass plants; (3) a decrease in regularly showing signs of illness before eating plants and (4) a decrease in regularly vomiting after consuming plants. The findings support the perspective that plant eating is a normal behaviour of domestic dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-132
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume111
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008

Keywords

  • Canids
  • Dogs
  • Feeding behaviour
  • Grass eating
  • Plant eating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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