Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? A Vet Sheds Light on this Behavior

No walk around the neighborhood is complete without my dog Lulu eating grass. Even on a full stomach, she likes to hunt for the perfect blades and chew away. Left unattended, I’m sure she could mow down a small lawn. Since lawns today have any number of chemicals, I decided to check with an expert about whether her grass-eating habits do more harm than good.

Dr. Jennifer Monroe of Eagles Landing Veterinary Hospital in Georgia explains the most common reasons that dogs eat grass.

It’s yummy: Monroe says that it is normal for dogs to chew on the green stuff. Some pooches even develop preferences that range from fresh leaves to drier weeds or even a particular species of grass. What they cannot discern is whether grass has been chemically treated. Use caution when walking on a neighbor’s lawn and stick with greener products in your own yard. Monroe recommends nontoxic treatment options.

“You do have to be careful if you have a dog that is a chronic grass eater,” she says. “We do have a lot of clients who bring pets in for vomiting and wonder if it’s from something the yard was treated with.”

Nutritional deficiencies: Dogs with certain intestinal diseases don’t necessarily digest food properly and have trouble absorbing minerals, which can lead to grazing. Monroe adds that anemia and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract also cause dogs to eat dirt.

They are trying to induce vomiting: When dogs eat something that doesn’t agree with them, they often eat grass to induce vomiting. If eating grass causes your dog to vomit twice a week or more, call your veterinarian because there could be another underlying health issue. She also recommends a visit if there is any doubt that your dog may be ill; better safe than sorry.

Behavioral issues: Dogs can develop obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) regarding the grass. (I suspect that my Lulu falls into this category. She’s pretty determined during those lawn-gobbling excursions.) In the majority of cases, Monroe says this is no reason for concern. To correct the behavior, she recommends reducing your dog’s grazing time.

Basket muzzles restrict grass guzzling, too. In severe cases, she recommends consulting a certified veterinary behaviorist for advice. Otherwise, let them stop to smell — and chomp — the greenery.

“If not they are not vomiting and not destructive, I say let them enjoy it,” Monroe says.

Dog Sniffs Out Sea Turtle Nests to Help Save Them

The first step in protecting sea turtle nests is finding them, but to us, these nests often look simply like piles of sand.

That’s why dogs like Captain Ron, a 2-year-old pocket beagle, are trained to sniff these nests out.

Captain Ron’s sensitive nose can detect the thin layer of mucus left on eggs buried in the sand, and once a sea turtle nest is located, the area is marked so it can remain undisturbed.

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Home Depot, Lowes, Pottery Barn, Macy’s and More Help Tackle the Problem of Dogs in Hot Cars

All dog owners have been in this situation: You want to run into a store for just a few minutes but you have the dog with you. Can you leave her? Should you? Is it safe?

Leaving a dog in the car is no small thing, even for just a few moments, especially when it’s warm outside. The Humane Society notes that when it’s just 72 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can hit 116 degrees within an hour. When it’s 80 degrees out, the car can heat up to 99 degrees in only 10 minutes! It doesn’t matter if you crack all the windows; the car still heats up like an oven. The danger is real, and within a matter of minutes, a dog’s vital organs can start shutting down.

In fact, many states have laws against leaving a dog in a car, and many areas are getting more lenient about allowing people to break car windows to rescue pets without the threat of property damage charges. Store managers also have an obligation to call the police if they see a dog in danger, which may mean losing a patron. So how do dog owners avoid harming their dogs, and store owners avoid calling out their customers? Recently, there have been a few new ideas.

IKEA has a parking area for dogs. In a corner of one of the company’s stores in Germany, there is an area where a dog can be tied in its own spot, complete with a raised bed covered in artificial grass and a water bowl. The dogs can lounge in cool comfort while owners shop. Hopefully the idea will be picked up in more locations, including stores in the hotter parts of the United States.

But these simple slots out in the open may leave some dog owners worried about notions like pet theft. An even better solution is The Barking Garage, which opened up a matter of weeks ago in the Gateway Shopping Center in northwest Austin, Texas.

The owner, Mary Traverse, is a chiropractor during the week; on the weekends, she’s a dog lover with a creative solution for dog owners. Traverse wanted to provide a solution for shoppers, so she remodeled a car hauler, added air conditioning and kennels, and parked it in the lot of a shopping mall. She charges a small fee for caring for customer’s dogs while they run errands.

The manager of the shopping center where The Barking Garage is parked on weekends was encouraging of Traverse’s idea when she presented it. “Like all responsible mall management, they have to call the police if their security sees a dog in danger from the heat (or cold!) in a locked car, and they cannot find the owner,” Traverse told MNN. “And the store managers, the merchants where the health department prohibits animals in a store, they hate telling patrons they have to leave because they have brought a dog into the store. So the mall management, store managers, and staff have all met us with an enthusiastic reception.”

So too have customers. While not a lot of people have brought their dogs to The Barking Garage, the concept is only a few weeks old. Several people have come by to ask questions and seem interested in what The Barking Garage is all about.

“We have had a few customers, but we have only been open three weekends. We will open more hours as public awareness and demand grow. Shoppers come by and see the trailer, and they love the idea. We have given many tours! I am confident we will be busy as people come to realize what we do and that we are going to be there,” says Traverse.

Many major retail stores allow customers to simply bring their dogs inside when they shop, including Home Depot, Lowes, some Pottery Barn locations, Macy’s, and of course several pet stores like PetSmart and Petco.

In fact, you may be surprised to know the number of stores in your area that allow dogs inside. A simple call to the store to clarify the company’s pet policy — before you arrive — will clear up any questions. For any store that’s not a pet shop, however, you run the risk of making other shoppers uncomfortable or offended by your dog’s presence. It tends to be a touchy subject. And of course, there are some stores, such as grocery stores, where pets are not allowed because of health codes.

The concept of stores providing safe places for dogs while their owners run errands is growing in popularity among customers and retailers alike.

“We have had so many requests from all over the country that we are developing a package with varying sizes of trailers that we can deliver at a reasonable cost to people who want to have their own Barking Garage,” Traverse tells us. “We are dog lovers and would love to know there is a Barking Garage, using our safe methods and high professional standards, any place we need one around the country! It can change the face of travel with pets, and we are excited about that.”

So stay tuned to a parking lot near yo

Meet the Florida Dog Who Won the 2015 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest

An unusual-looking, short-spined dog named Quasi Modo from Loxahatchee, Florida was named the 2015 World’s Ugliest Dog at the Sonoma – Marin County Fair in Northern California this past weekend due to his remarkable resemblance to a hyena. In a contest of 26 other dogs, Quasi Modo stood out amongst his peers

After much deliberation, worthy of a national beauty contest, and tabulation by an independent auditor, Quasi Modo, who looks like a hyena to some, was selected because he“epitomized excellence in ugliness” according to Chief Judge Brian Sobel. …The judges score the dogs on their first impression, unusual attributes, natural ugliness (cannot have been altered for purposes of the contest), personality and audience impression. A good many of the contestant dogs have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills and the Contest has done much to raise awareness for adoption of dogs and how no matter their physical detractions, these animals are loving companions.


Dog Days of Summer Can Be Deadly for Pets

A man in Athens, Georgia, recently made headlines after he was arrested for smashing a car window to rescue a dog trapped in a hot car.

“I’ve got PTSD, and I’ve seen enough death and destruction,” Mark Hammons, a Desert Storm veteran told 11 Alive. “And I didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”

While you may enjoy taking your canine companion for a ride during the dog days of summer, experts advise pet owners not to leave dogs, cats or any other pets unattended in the car.

On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes, according to the Animal Protection Institute. In 30 minutes, the interior can reach up to 120 degrees.

Such temperatures can be deadly for dogs, which don’t sweat like humans do. Dogs cool down only by panting and drooling, meaning it’s much easier for them to suffer from heat exhaustion.

Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in 15 minutes, so even a brief stop at the store could be deadly.

In 2012, Ernie Ward, a veterinarian at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina, spent 30 minutes in a hot car to demonstrate how dangerous it is to leave your pet unattended. By the end of the experiment, the car had reached 117 degrees even with all the windows open 2 inches.

What should you do if you see an animal trapped in a hot car?
Minutes count, so alert someone immediately.

If you know the owners, inform them that their pet is in danger.

If the animal is alone in a parking lot, take down the vehicle’s color, model, make and license plate and ask nearby businesses to make an announcement to alert the pet owner. If possible, ask someone to keep an eye on the animal before you leave the scene.

If you’re unable to locate the pet owner, call 911 or your local animal control office and someone will be dispatched to assist you.

Watch the animal for signs of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, drooling, trouble breathing, agitation, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of consciousness. If the animal appears to be in imminent danger, you can break the car window; however, first try to find a witness who will back up your assessment of the animal’s health.

Keep in mind that it’s illegal in some states to break a car window to rescue a pet, and even in those where it’s illegal to leave an animal in the car, most rescues must be conducted by a law enforcement or animal control officer. You can check laws in your state here.

According to legal experts, citizens who break into a car to rescue a distressed animal may be protected by Good Samaritan laws, and Onondaga County (N.Y.) District Attorney William Fitzpatrick told The Post-Standard “there’s absolutely no way in the world we’d prosecute someone for trying to save the animal.” He said the worst-case scenario would be a civil matter, not criminal charges. But again, laws and attitudes vary by state.

If you rescue a pet you suspect is suffering from heatstroke, get the animal into an air-conditioned vehicle and take it to a veterinarian immediately.

If you don’t have an emergency hammer or another item on hand to break the window, you could always use a sparkplug as demonstrated in the video below.

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Man Takes Dying Dog on Cross-Country Adventure

When DJ Thomas Neil Rodriguez learned earlier this year that his 16-year-old dog had only weeks to live, he was devastated.

He’d adopted Poh as a puppy from a New York shelter in 1999, but the once-healthy pit bull-lab mix now had numerous tumors as well as kidney failure.

“They were like, we can’t tell you [how much time he has left] but you could have days. He could be gone any day,” he told New York Daily News.

Rodriguez had a gig scheduled in Arizona in March, but he wasn’t about to leave Poh alone for what could be his final days. So he and his fiancée decided to embark on a road trip and cross items of Poh’s bucket list.

The trio left New York on March 6, and Rodriguez started an Instagram account to share Poh’s cross-country journey.

Poh, who requires a daily IV drip, was photographed in front of numerous U.S. landmarks along the way, and when the family arrived in Arizona, Rodriguez decided to continue their road trip.

Since then, Poh has traveled thousands of miles and been photographed in more than 35 U.S. cities. He has dipped his paws in the Pacific Ocean, posed in front of the Alamo and had his belly rubbed on the National Mall.

Now, Poh is back home in the Big Apple, but his urban explorations continue. Take a look at his Instagram page, and you’ll see Poh visiting Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and One World Trade Center.

Rodriguez says he’s blessed to have spent months with Poh instead of the few days he thought he’d get when his pet received a terminal diagnosis.

“I am super blessed that I have actually gotten to do this,” he said. “People think I take care of Poh, but Poh takes care of me.”

Take a look at some of Poh’s adventures in the photos below.