Can Dogs Eat Leaves?
Wild dogs have historically consumed plants and leaves to fill gaps in their diets, and even their domesticated counterparts have followed in their footsteps. But, can dogs eat leaves?
The good thing is that dogs can eat most leaves as they are not harmful to their health. But, some leaves can be toxic if they came from a poisonous plant, or if they have been exposed to certain pesticides. Furthermore, excessive leaf eating can be a sign of a bigger issue such as a medical condition or a dietary problem.
Why is My Dog Eating Leaves?
The first question that must be answered is why your dog eats leaves.
To Fill Gaps in Their Diet
As stated above, wild dogs usually eat leaves or grass when they cannot access meat. This usually helps to fill gaps in and supplement their diet. A domestic dog should have all of the nutrients they need in their daily meals, so there is no need for them to eat leaves or grass.
At the same time, dogs are omnivores, so it is also completely normal for them to eat leaves. If you notice that your dog keeps eating leaves, it is probably because they do not have enough fiber in their daily meals, and they are trying to balance their diet.
Underlying Medical Conditions
Another reason why dogs eat leaves is due to a condition called Pica. Pica is sometimes the cause of an underlying medical condition, but this is not always the case. This situation requires a dog to eat non-food substances such as leaves, rocks, and clothes.
To Relieve Pain and Nausea
Dogs also use leaves as a way to relieve themselves from gastrointestinal pain and nausea. The leaves they consume help them vomit, but this can be hazardous, especially when they consume it in large amounts.
Dangers Caused When Dogs Eat Leaves
Leaves do not threaten a dog’s health when consumed, unless they are from toxic plants that can harm your dog. It will be difficult to tell which leaves are poisonous and which are not, and some leaves could be covered in harmful chemicals like pesticides.
It will be much worse when you have to deal with a dog who consumes toxic leaves, so it is better to prevent this before it happens. Plants like tomatoes, castor oil, and tulips are harmful to dogs. Trees like black walnut, apple, Japanese yews, or peach can also harm dogs.
Depending on the level of toxicity in the leaves, your dog can suffer from a stomach upset, seizures, liver or kidney failure, tremors, intestinal blockage in puppies, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Leaves
You can do a couple of things to stop your dog from eating leaves off the ground, some of which are listed below.
Use an Interactive Toy
Sometimes, dogs eat leaves because they are bored and have nothing to do. Purchase an interactive toy or chewing stick to distract your dog from playing with leaves. You can also try a food puzzle to get them engaged with something other than eating leaves.
Try setting up playdates with other dogs to engage your furry friend or play interactive games with your dog. Interactive games can tire your dog out, so they do not even think of eating leaves.
Train Your Dog Not to Eat Leaves
When you take your dog for walks and they try to eat a leaf, you can tell them “NO” sternly or teach them the “leave it” command. When teaching your dog, try rewarding them with treats as this enables them to learn faster.
Increase Fiber in Their Diet
Your dog may be eating leaves because they do not have enough fiber in their daily meals and need it to supplement their diet. It would be best to consider adding fiber to your dog’s daily meals, especially dog-safe vegetables.
See a Veterinarian
If your dog’s leaf consumption continues, or it becomes too excessive, it is best to see a veterinarian. Seeing a veterinary professional can rule out the risk of other serious medical conditions in your dog.
Furthermore, the veterinarian may have additional tips and tricks to curb this behavior.
The first thing you need to do to get rid of your dog’s leaf-eating behavior the moment you notice it is to identify the cause of the problem. Once you figure out why your dog is eating leaves, you can implement these tips to stop it.