Puppies are naturally curious creatures. They are new to the world and have limitless possibilities to explore! It’s one of the more endearing things about these young canines, but it can also get them into a lot of trouble.
Pups are notorious for eating weird things.
Canines rely on their sense of taste to navigate their surroundings and learn as much as possible. It’s a pretty normal behavior despite how gross it can get.
Comparatively speaking, leaves are on the more innocent side of things. There are many worse things your dog can try to eat, so consider yourself lucky! That said, you shouldn’t ignore this behavior.
A puppy eating leaves could mean many things. Beyond natural curiosity, it could indicate underlying health problems or even behavior issues you need to address.
Why Do Puppies Eat Leaves?
It’s impossible to know what puppies are genuinely thinking.
We can’t get into their little innocent minds. However, we can use our understanding of canine psychology to get a general idea of why puppies do the things they do.
Eating leaves is a pretty typical behavior, and it usually stems from an inherent need or emotion.
Is your pup not eating normally? How is their appetite?
In many cases, eating leaves is due to malnutrition. Puppies are sensitive as they grow into adults. Everything they eat matters, and a high-quality diet is crucial for proper development.
While many canines are driven by their seemingly insatiable hunger, most dogs will not resort to eating leaves.
Puppies don’t know any better. All they know is that they aren’t getting the nutrients they need to survive and prosper. So, they must look for it elsewhere.
If malnourishment is to blame, there’s a good chance you’ll notice your pup eating other things, too. They might resort to eating feces, trying to capture small animals, and even turning to the trash.
There’s no doubt that a trip to the vet is a must. A puppy’s diet is paramount, and eating leaves could signify something wrong.
A vet can get to the bottom of the situation and provide recommendations on how you can keep your pup well-fed and healthy.
It’s always a good idea to focus on providing a top-notch diet that fulfills all of your pup’s needs. Malnutrition is a serious issue that could negatively impact their health and development.
If your puppy is turning to leaves to eat, there’s something wrong, and you need to take steps to make it better.
2. Sheer Boredom
Let’s face it: You’ve probably resorted to snacking when you were bored at some point. Dogs do the same thing!
Puppies will sometimes turn to weird foods to fill the void of boredom they’re experiencing. These young creatures are already curious enough. When you’re not there to keep them entertained and happy, they’ll find ways to stay occupied!
The good news is that leaf-eating is pretty pure and easy enough to fix in this context.
The trick here is to keep your furry friend entertained.
That doesn’t mean you have to avoid work or stick around all day. You can rely on mental stimulation toys, play feeders, and other fun things to create distractions.
If all else fails, bring your puppy to a doggy daycare center or hire a pet sitter to keep that boredom at bay.
Unfortunately, some dogs suffer from a condition known as Pica. This mental issue can occur in humans, dogs, cats, and many other animals.
Essentially, it’s a type of compulsive eating disorder. But instead of turning to food, dogs will eat non-edible items.
That can include bits of clothing, plastic, paper, dirt, rocks, and more. Eating leaves undoubtedly raises a few red flags.
Puppies are prone to eating weird things from time to time. So, how do you know it’s pica? Most puppies grow out of the behavior after about a year.
If your pup is older than 12 months and is still compulsively eating things they shouldn’t be, it may be pica.
If pica is to blame, your pup might eat leaves more frequently, too. Instead of a one-off occasion, it becomes a compulsive behavior that won’t stop no matter how much you scold your dog.
Pica can become severe with time. It starts innocent enough, but it doesn’t take long for dogs to graduate to more significant items that could pose choking threats.
The best way to deal with pica is to hire a canine behavioralist.
Pica is a big deal that can revolve around stress, anxiety, boredom, and other emotions. A behaviorist will figure things out and help you train your dog out of the habit.
It takes a lot of work, but your dog’s health and well-being are on the line.
Ever see what stressed-out dogs can do? Your puppy is small now, so the effects of stress are relatively benign. But eventually, the emotion can cause dogs to go haywire!
They’ll destroy things, eat odd objects, and even resort to self-harm.
Eating leaves could be the start. But why do puppies do it?
In many cases, the behavior is a coping mechanism.
Despite their simple nature, dogs can feel a wide range of emotions just like humans. But unlike humans, canines don’t have the power to deal with those feelings in a healthy way.
So, they often turn to whatever provides a moment of respite. Your little furball is dealing with a sea of unfamiliar feelings, and they’re using the leaves to deal with it.
The best thing you can do here is address those emotions and provide a healthier distraction. That requires you to figure out what’s causing anxiety.
It could be that you left them outside on their own. Or, it may be new sounds like a vacuum, passing cars or loud neighbors.
Stick by your dog’s side as they navigate your backyard. If necessary, consider providing more exercise and playtime.
Puppies can get anxious when they’re left without any company or entertainment. Keep them occupied, and those stressful emotions will melt away.
5. Stomach Problems
In some instances, eating leaves is a direct response to stomach problems.
Dogs are cunning creatures. Even as puppies, they know how to get relief from common ailments. It’s all about instincts and the actions of their ancestors. DIY remedies come second nature to them.
Have you ever seen a dog eating grass? That’s usually the go-to remedy when dealing with an upset stomach.
That sudden fiber ingestion helps push out whatever is causing their stomach bug. If you don’t have a ton of clean grass around, your pup might resort to leaves instead.
Usually, stomach-related leaf-eating is temporary. Think of it as you popping a few antacids after a big meal. Your dog simply wants relief, so there’s no reason to get concerned.
If you want to help, consider investing in probiotics to keep your dog’s gut in good shape. You can also talk to your vet about implementing more fiber into your pup’s diet.
Are Leaves Dangerous for Dogs?
Whether or not your dog’s behavior is dangerous depends entirely on what kinds of leaves they’re eating.
For the most part, leaves aren’t going to cause too many issues. However, there are some things to be wary of before turning a blind eye.
The first is pesticides and fertilizers. Perfectly landscaped yards often take advantage of chemicals to reach their full potential.
Gardeners can use fertilizers in the soil or spray the plant leaves to shoo bugs away.
Both have the potential to make your dog sick. If you use any chemical-based plant products, it’s best to err on the side of caution and put a stop to this behavior as quickly as possible.
That’s not all.
Some plants are downright toxic to dogs. Examples include:
- Unripe tomatoes
- Japanese Yew
- Black Walnut
- Sago Palms
- Dumb Cane
Those plants can cause many issues. Ingesting the leaves could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling. In some cases, eating large quantities could make dogs go into shock.
It’s always a good idea to be careful about the plants you have in your yard when you own a dog. But even if you choose to have them, most dogs will avoid eating plants.
It’s only when curious canines start chowing down on leaves that you have to worry.
Be aware of what’s in your yard.
If there’s anything remotely dangerous, you’ll need to take action. But if none of your plants are toxic, the occasional snacking to alleviate nausea is no big deal.
Your pup will be fine as long as it doesn’t become a chronic thing.
Ending Unwanted Leaf Eating
The best way to address this weird behavior is to tackle the root cause. Whether it’s boredom or anxiety, dealing with that core emotion should take care of the leaf-eating.
If not, consider hiring a trainer and behaviorist. They can encourage your dog to leave the habit behind and focus on healthier foods and better coping mechanisms!