Why do dogs eat grass?

I have an interesting article titled Why do dogs and cats eat grass? by Benjamin L. Hart which was published in the journal Veterinary Medicine (December 2008, 103, 12 pp648-649).

The author did several small surveys of students and customers who were dog owners based on the assumption that plant eating is associated with illness or dietary deficiency. The results indicated that illness was unlikely to be the reason for eating grass and that vomiting afterwards is not as common as thought.

To dig a bit deeper they used an online survey to ask dog owners about plant eating behaviour. With 1571 useful responses:

  • 67% said their dogs eat plants daily or weekly.
  • 8% reported their dogs showing signs of illness before eating plants.
  • 22% said their dog regularly vomits eating plants
  • Younger dogs are seen eating plants more often than older dogs

There was no indication that dogs with lower fibre in their diet ate plants more than other dogs.

Contrary to popular opinion, most dogs that eat grass or other plants are not unwell and most do not vomit afterwards. So why do they eat grass?

Worms

Both domestic and wild dogs eat plant material. It does not seem to be associated with illness or dietary deficiency but is a common behaviour so presumably serves some purpose.

The theory put forth by the author of this article is that eating plants helps purge parasites such as intestinal worms from the gut by increasing how quickly material moves through the gut and also by wrapping around the worms and carrying them out of the body

Sooo, about poo?

My question then is; why does my disgusting dog eat her own poo? She does eat grass but the theory of removing parasites is defeated by her coprophagy!

A Dog on his Master

As young as I look,
I am growing older faster than he,
Seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages
to cross his mind,
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

by Billy Collins

Vida

We said goodbye to Vida today. She was finding it hard to get around and had lost a lot of condition but it still is hard to put a dog to sleep. She was a good friend and always happy to see us.

We got a kakabeak plant for her spot in the garden, she loved to lie under our other one and dig holes under it so now she has one all to herself. Unfortunately we are ending up with a doggie memorial area in our garden.

SONY DSC
Vida

Vida as a puppy

Vida as a puppy, sitting expectantly looking at the camera
Vida as a puppy, about 3 months old (this is a scanned copy of an old photo)

Vida was born in March 1999 and lived 15¾ years, a good age for a dog and she had an active life as a much-loved member of our family.

As a young dog she loved to chase oystercatchers as they flew along local beaches, running so far she disappeared from sight and coming back with a big exhausted smile (she never caught them, oystercatchers were too smart to let her get close, but I think they enjoyed taunting her).

Rover’s revenge

A man was recovering Wednesday after being shot over the weekend by his dog.

The full story is available here.

After the man got out of the boat, a dog inside the vessel jumped up on the bow and stepped on the gun. The gun fired and shot the man in the buttocks.

Simple, not easy

I was listening to Matthew Chapter 7 as I walked home this afternoon and noticed how simply Jesus taught. He did not make it complicated to understand how to be righteous – simply listen to what He said and put it into practise, simple!

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
(Matthew 7:24 ESV)

Simple to understand, certainly not easy to do. In fact, if the path I’m on is easy, that’s a good indication I’m on the wrong path.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “
(Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

The call and commands of Christ are easy to understand but impossible for a sinful man to obey. I must become something I am not – a little child (Matthew 18:3). A little child believes Jesus when He says it is better to enter life with one hand or one eye than to be thrown into hell with two hands or two eyes. A little child does not rationalize away sin or hell, he confesses the sin, trusts Jesus, and walks on with Jesus in obedience. I don’t need more knowledge, I need to know Jesus and live trusting Him completely.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “
(Matthew 6:31-33 ESV)

Gifts I have noticed this week (145 – 162):

145) The means to dispatch large spiders without getting too close! (i.e., flyspray).
146) My 17 year-old watch that still goes great.
147) My Mother-in-law making my favourite cake.
148) Contemplating God while washing dishes late at night.
149) Being mesmerized by the patterns of light summer rain falling silently on a pond.
150) Gentle ‘plopping’ sounds as the rain gets heavier.
151) Dragonflies hovering.

152) A dog eager for me to throw a pine cone into the pond for him to chase.

153) School camp.
154) A washing machine.
155) warm, sunny days to get washing dry.
156) Memories of my own childhood adventures.
157) A swim for two dogs who are hot and panting.
158) A gentle, cooling breeze (see Jonah 4:8).
159) Warm sunny days helping to burn away the fog.
160) Clean water to drink.
161) A dog who is expert at finding lost tennis balls to play with.
162) Hope in Christ deeper than any circumstance or emotion.
163) A new road layout, no more walking alongside trucks.
164) The simple, brain-clearing rhythm of walking.

Headache in a hailstorm

Christians have various ways of spending time with God, trying to engage with Him and experience His Spirit in their lives. Some find a quiet place and meditate upon the Bible, or pray, some write in a journal, others sing, listen or play music. There are many other means to cultivating an experience of God’s presence in our lives also, many folks are very creative in worshiping Christ.

One of the ways I get some time out with God is by taking our two dogs for a walk up the hill near our house through a reserve of scrub and pine trees that is criss-crossed with mountain bike tracks. The combination of fresh air, being out in a natural environment, the view across the city and hills and some time alone to think, often enables me to notice God’s presence with me more than I normally do in the busyness of life. As the weather warms up I will spend more time ‘up the hill’ with the dogs, so hopefully the musings and ponderings from there will result in a few worthwhile blog posts. Sometimes (like on Sunday) I take my camera so there may also be some pictures of what catches my attention, other days it will be seeing with the eyes of my heart through the window of words alone.

Part of my motivation to get out for a walk on Sunday was the headache which was brewing, the result of too little sleep and being inside too much over the weekend. So despite another spring storm I made an effort and was much better for it. A walk in the cold wind helps me to appreciate simple things, such as a warm jacket and woolly hat, especially as the hail came down.

Something I noticed was that the storms a few weeks ago had toppled some trees, including one that had been killed by fire. This poor lone pine had stood stoically for several years after the fire, seemingly solid until it finally came down with a resounding crash. So I had a closer look at where it had broken off.

What became clear was that despite it’s solid-looking exterior (albeit somewhat charred), the inside of this tree was rotten. Dry rot and insects had been eating away from the inside, weakening the structure of the wood until it became inevitable that it would fall. A strong wind hastened it’s demise, but the end of this tree had begun whenever that rot had begun deep inside it.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
(Matthew 23:27-28 ESV)

We all have rottenness inside our hearts, it is there festering and growing unless we combat it actively to prevent it destroying the very fabric and structure of our lives.

Unlike this unfortunate tree, there is a way to redeem the rotten core of our lives if we will commit ourselves into the mercy of God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
(Romans 12:2a ESV)