A Roll in the Grass

Ah, Spring. Every dog loves the sniffs of the awakening earth, so why not don that glorious scent with a luxurious roll in the cool grass? I love the comedic poses they strike while rubbing their dog bodies on the lawn. Their infectious happiness pours from their abounding joy. They are as done with teeping across icy pathways under steel-grey skies as we are. We may feel like singing and dancing in the beauty of spring but dogs actually do it…by rolling in the grass.
Spring grass is purported to be higher in sugar content, hence the big attraction. If your dog isn’t rolling in it, he’s probably at least munching on it like a rabbit. Unless your lawn has been treated with pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, eating grass won’t hurt them although there are some taller grass varieties with higher silica content that can cause cuts in their gastrointestinal tract. How can you tell? Run the grass through your hands. If it feels course, especially on the edges, redirect your dog to softer species of grass. You can even buy grasses for your dogs (and cats) to nibble. Dogs are carnivores… mostly. Wild canids all supplement their diets with fruits, vegetables, and grasses when and where available and the premium dog foods all include vegetables and fruits.
Sweet potatoes, blueberries, apples… there is an endless list of plants that are healthy for your dogs. That said, there are plenty of plant products your dogs (and cats) should not have access to. Many seeds in the rose family (not the pulpy fruit, but the SEEDS), which includes cherries, apples, and pears, have a high cyanide content… obviously, avoid feeding the seeds. All plants in the allium family (garlic, onions, chives, etc.) should be avoided as they can cause anemia. Many tree nuts concentrate toxins, so best to avoid walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and the like. Avocado plants make a toxin (persin) in all of their parts, so the entire plant is poisonous to dogs, not just the fruit. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. This is NOT a comprehensive list, by any means.
Many plants evolved a set of chemical products to ward off microbial attacks and animal grazing. These chemical compounds are the alkaloids, they are almost all bitter tasting, and their common names end in the suffix -ine. Caffeine, nicotine, scopolamine, morphine, codeine, cocaine, amphetamine, theobromine. Pick up on the trend? Humans LOVE alkaloids. Coffee, cigarettes, pupillary dilators (those of you old enough will remember getting eye drops at the optometrist so your eyes could be examined and you couldn’t focus for hours afterward), painkillers, speed, chocolate… humans have exploited all of these alkaloids. We’ve made medicines from them, become addicted to them, waged wars on them… and none of them should be given to your dog unless medicinally via your veterinarian.
But grass rolling? Pure fun, simple pleasure, secure happiness… Roll on Pubbays!

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