January 10th is Houseplant Appreciation Day! What better time to put to rest the age old mystery, “why is my dog eating my plants?” We’re not just talking about the occasional nibble, either. Turn your back for five minutes and your precious pup devours your prize houseplants as if they were a T-bone steak! While there have been numerous studies conducted, the exact reason is not entirely clear – other than the sheer fun of driving us crazy. So, let’s take a closer look at what might be the driving force behind the insatiable green appetite in your dog.
Stomach upset is a commonly known reason why dogs eat grass. When a queasy tummy comes calling, Fido looks to graze on any greenery nearby. Those tasty greens have been said to induce vomiting, prompting fast relief. Thus, in a dog’s mind, your favorite luscious green houseplant is inviting. Err to the side caution if this is happening on a frequent basis or you suspect your dog eats a toxic plant. Seek veterinary help immediately.
Nutritional deficiency is another culprit in the continuing saga, “Death of a Houseplant”. Just as with humans, dogs can lack vitamins or nutrients in their diet. Unfortunately, many brands of kibble these days lack the true nutritional balance our furry friend requires. Various plants contain essential vitamins and oils sending Fido to decimate your houseplant to satisfy their deficiency. Try adding some raw greens to their food bowl or snack time like chard, romaine lettuce, spinach and kale. A handful of baby carrots never hurts, either!
Pica is a common condition which causes a dog to crave non-food items ranging from houseplants, rocks and dirt, cloth items just to name a few. Often these “cravings” can prove to be behavioral based like stress, anxiety, and old fashioned attention getting.Pica should not be confused with the typical puppy stealing your favorite pair of shoes inducing a battle of tug-a-war. But if your pooch is eating every non-food item that isn’t nailed down, it can be deadly. Consider an animal behavioral specialist and/or a trip to the veterinarian’s office.
Eating houseplants can prove to be hazardous to your dog’s health, depending on what they choose to graze on. Plant toxicity to dogs can range from mild to fatal. The ASPCA is an excellent source of toxic plants. If your pooch has a plant fetish keep the following information readily available;
Veterinarian contact information with hours of operation
24 hr. emergency veterinary clinic
Canine poison control hotline
Prevention and understanding is key. Simply keeping your houseplants out of reach whenever possible by hanging your plant, or raising it up works. You can also close off access to the room where the plant is located. Try deterrents including Bitter Apple or place a cotton ball just under the soil soaked with clove oil. Contrary to popular belief, NEVER use cayenne pepper or hot sauce, which have been known to cause internal injuries and even death.