Have you noticed your puppy eating leaves? Are you wondering why they do this and if this behavior could pose a problem. Besides, they may appear to be doing it every time they go outside. Here is all you should know and the recommended way in which to respond.
So, why does my puppy eat leaves? Puppies tend to eat leaves out of curiosity. However, if you notice your puppy is eating a lot of leaves regularly, it could be a sign of boredom, malnutrition, or gastrointestinal upset, which should be investigated and addressed before the condition worsens.
Understanding why your puppy is eating leaves frequently could be key in keeping their health in good shape.
But what do you now do? Should you continue to allow your dog to do so?
Let’s continue to explore!
Will Eating Leaves Hurt My Puppy?
Eating too many leaves can lead to health problems, including upset stomachs, potential poisoning, and malnutrition. Depending on the leaves eaten, excessive consumption could even lead to organ failure.
Wherever you notice your puppy eating leaves, whether out on a walk or in the yard, it’s important to know what species of plants are growing around your puppy.
Some plants are toxic to dogs, and puppies aren’t experienced enough to know which ones to avoid, so it’s your responsibility to know for them.
Species of plants you need to watch your puppy around include chrysanthemums, autumn crocuses, Japanese yews, black walnut trees, and tomato plants.
Chrysanthemums can cause excessive drooling and an upset stomach, and autumn crocuses can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding and liver and kidney failure.
It is worth noting that spring crocuses are okay for your puppy to be around.
Japanese yews and black walnut trees both contain neurotoxins and have been known to cause tremors and seizures in dogs, potentially becoming fatal when ingested in high quantities.
When it comes to tomatoes, an occasional treat of a tomato in your puppy’s diet is okay to have.
However, the green parts of the tomato plant contain high amounts of tomatine.
In high amounts, tomatine will result in gastrointestinal upset, cardio issues, and muscle weakness in your puppy.
Learning what plants are in your backyard and on your walking routes, especially if you grow tomatoes or live in an area of native black walnut trees, is crucial in keeping your puppy healthy.
Along with knowing what species of plants surround you, it’s also important to be wary that some non-toxic plants may have been treated with pesticides.
People regularly treat their plants with pesticides to prevent slugs and other insects from destroying them.
However, the fallen leaves of these plants, or if the plant is within reach of your puppy’s mouth, provide them with the perfect opportunity to ingest these pesticides.
If you suspect your dog has pesticide poisoning or is showing ill symptoms after a walk, bringing a sample of the plant you suspect is the culprit with you to your vet will help in diagnosis.
Again, occasionally munching on non-toxic leaves will do no harm to your puppy.
However, if they’re eating a lot, this is when the problems are more likely to occur.
For one, it will satiate them, and this could result in not eating enough of the right foods when it comes to mealtimes.
Leaves and plant matter don’t provide the necessary nutrients puppies need to grow and stay in good health.
If they continue to eat more plants than dog food, over time, this could lead to malnourishment and, as a consequence, make them susceptible to health conditions associated with malnutrition.
Should I Allow My Puppy To Eat Leaves?
It’s okay to let your puppy eat the odd leaf every so often, assuming it’s not poisonous. Besides, it’s in their nature, you likely won’t be able to stop it, and it should not cause harm. However, if they’re munching on leaves often, you need to understand why they’re doing it and should try to reduce this compulsion.
You know how babies tend to put everything around them in their mouths to test it?
Puppies are the same. They’re curious and want to taste-test things around them.
Plus, the crunch of leaves and falling leaves in Fall heightens this curiosity to see what leaves are like.
Although domesticated dogs are primarily carnivores, wild dogs and their ancestors relied on plants and leaves to bulk up their diet when meat was low.
It’s thought that this survival instinct has been passed down to their descendants.
Hence, if your puppy eats leaves occasionally, there isn’t anything to be concerned about.
However, if your puppy is eating a lot of leaves all the time, something more serious might be going on and needs investigation.
Will My Puppy Grow Out Of Eating Leaves?
Like babies, puppies tend to grow out of eating leaves between the age of 6 months and 12 months.
Puppies under six months are notorious for putting everything in their mouth. They learn about their environment by smelling and tasting all that’s around them.
Puppies need this investigation time to test everything out so they can learn what they can have and what they need to stay away from.
If your puppy is older than 12 months and they’re still regularly eating leaves, then there’s most likely something more serious going on.
A potential reason for eating leaves is a lack of stimulation.
Dogs need exercise and mental activity to stay healthy and may chew on leaves for entertainment.
Or maybe they’re experiencing health symptoms and trying to clear out their digestive tract or to compensate for lack of fiber.
How Do I Stop My Puppy Eating Leaves?
You can stop your puppy from eating leaves by providing them with a balanced diet, enough exercise and mental stimulation, and firm training.
Let us now take a closer look at each one.
Sometimes your puppy might be eating leaves because they’re trying to make up for the lack of fiber in their normal diet.
Most dog foods are designed to meet all the nutritional needs for puppies, but occasionally that balance will be off, and fiber can be the first thing affected.
If you suspect your puppy is chewing on leaves because of a lack of fiber, consider gradually introducing a new brand of dog food or incorporating a fiber supplement into their diet.
If you choose to switch foods, make sure to introduce this slowly; otherwise, it can cause stomach issues and diarrhea in your puppy.
However, sometimes puppies just love the taste and texture of eating leaves and plants. If you’re confident that their diet is balanced, try adding some dog-friendly vegetables and herbs into their diet to meet this craving.
Include carrots, celery, and peas into their daily meal to satisfy that taste and crunch. You could also create an herb garden of rosemary, thyme, and basil for your puppy.
This will help liven up their food and curb their urge to chew down plants and leaves.
Visit A Vet
However, if your puppy is nauseous, they might eat leaves to help force themselves to vomit to rid themselves of what’s making them feel sick.
Symptoms of nausea in dogs include lip licking and excessive swallowing, reduced appetite, and excessive drooling.
Visit your vet if you notice your puppy is feeling nauseous all of the time, or you notice any one of these other symptoms.
Exercise And Mental Stimulation
Sometimes puppies will be compelled to eat non-edible things, leading to a condition called Pica.
Pica compels animals (and humans) to eat non-food items for many reasons, including from sheer boredom.
If you suspect your puppy is eating leaves from boredom, this can be easily fixed.
Puppies are energetic and curious animals, so they need enough exercise and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy.
Introducing daily walks into their routine will help burn off that energy and keep their mind active while exploring their surroundings.
You can include playtime between you and your puppy, which will engage their minds too.
Plus, it will have the added benefit of strengthening the bond between you and your pet.
Another way to keep your puppy from boredom is to give them chew toys and puzzle toys.
This will distract them from wanting to eat leaves.
Additionally, these toys will be a great distraction when you’re not able to keep a vigilant eye on their whereabouts.
If you have bushes in your yard that your puppy loves munching on, consider pruning it out of their reach or use small fencing or wiring to prevent them from being able to get to the leaves.
Sometimes puppies just like to eat leaves, but it can lead to a blockage in their guts, so it needs to be monitored and curbed.
If none of the above are reasons for your puppy eating leaves, proper training will curb this habit.
You’ll essentially need to teach the “leave command.”
As your puppy reaches for a leaf, calmly say, “leave it,” and turn your puppy’s head away using the harness/leash; quickly offer a great and enthusiastically say “good dog” as they give their attention to you.
Repeat several times each time they go for leaves.
In time, your puppy will learn the meaning of the phrase and also soon associate leaving leaves with reward.
While training is sure to offer plenty of treats and do progress to other items with the ‘leave it’ command.
In time you can slowly phase out the food rewards while retaining the verbal praise.
Puppies learn the world by tasting everything about them, including leaves.
Eating an odd leaf is harmless, but too much can be a sign of boredom or serious health issues.
Thankfully, puppies usually grow out of eating leaves after a few weeks.
So, if yours doesn’t, it’s time to look at their diet, activity level, and overall health.
A visit to the vet might be the safest course of action to understand why your puppy is eating leaves.
Other than this, you can always use it as an opportunity to train your puppy the ‘leave it’ command.
That will come in use plenty of times in the future, believe me!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.