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My Dog eats pine needles..
bear12767 posted:
I have a 7 yr old Rottweiler who constantly eats pine needles. A few hours after eating them he vomits. Can you tell me why he eats pine needles.
Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS responded:
Dogs that eat pine needles, grass, house plants and other forms of vegetable matter are doing what comes naturally. While most dogs don't eat pine needles, the reason you do is doing this is the same as for grass.

Carnivores normally would get vegetable matter in their diets by eating what is in the digestive tracts of the prey they kill (wolves eat deer and rabbits, deer and rabbits eat grass; cats eat mice, mice eat grains). So pre-digested vegetable matter is the normal form. Carnivores lack the enzyme in their saliva that starts the breakdown of cellulose, so if they eat it in its raw state (pine needles, grass, etc.) the material isn't broken down in the digestive tract. It will sit in a wad in the stomach. A little bit will usually pass through, but larger amounts irritate the stomach and will cause the animal to vomit it back up.

Owners may also notice that their dog is more likely to eat grass at this time of year (Spring). This is probably because they have not had a good source during the winter and crave the newer, tender shoots of grass. We also know that some dogs will seek out plants when they seem to have an upset stomach. The connection between grass causing vomiting and using it to purge the stomach of bad stuff is probably learned and is not associated with every episode of eating grass.


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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