Whether your puppy is helping themselves to your herb garden more than you are, or it’s fall, and you’re raking up piles of leaves, you might be concerned if they seem to turn leaves into a full-time snack.
Puppies eat leaves for many reasons, including for fun, because of a nutritional deficiency, and because they’re hungry.
I’ll help you get to the bottom of the question, “Why is my puppy eating leaves?” and share solutions for stopping the problem.
Reasons Your Puppy Is Eating Leaves
In most cases, leaf-eating is a harmless activity that puppies do. But there can also be some more concerning reasons for it. Below are some of the most common reasons your puppy wants to eat leaves, starting with the least concerning ones.
Puppies will be puppies, and fun is the name of the game. Leaves that blow in the wind while on the plant can be fun for puppies to chase. Your puppy might also love jumping in piles of fallen leaves in the fall, grabbing mouthfuls as they play.
It’s a Natural Tendency
Did you know that dogs are omnivores? That’s right—they have genetic wiring to crave both meat and plants. Leaves can help your dog get nutrients, and it’s common for dogs to eat grass and leaves to ease an upset stomach.
They Like the Texture
You likely have a lot of toys around the house in an attempt to prevent your puppy from making your table leg their next chew toy. But leaves have a different texture than any toy you’ll give your puppy. They might feel intrigued by this, making them inclined to eat leaves.
Puppies love to be on the go and have new stimulants to keep their short attention spans engaged. Therefore, if you stopped throwing a toy or rubbing their belly, they might move on to eating leaves out of boredom.
Puppies are also avid chewers until they’re six to 12 months old, given that they’re teething. So, they might be chewing on leaves as a trial to see if they make a suitable chewing toy.
Going off the omnivore comment above, your puppy might be eating leaves because they’re not getting enough nutrients from their dog food. Puppies have specific nutrient requirements that change as they age.
For example, puppies have high protein requirements when they’re young compared to adults. Sadly, many puppy food contains lots of fillers instead of the micro and macronutrients that puppies need.
So, if you opted for the cheaper bag of puppy food and your pooch suddenly starts eating leaves, try splurging on a more expensive brand to see if that stops your puppy’s leaf-eating behavior.
Food Quantity Issue
It’s natural to want to sneak pieces of food off your dinner plate and into your puppy’s mouth. But unfortunately, that can cause them to fill up too much on human meals, not leaving sufficient space for them to eat their puppy food.
The result can be your puppy turning its nose up to puppy food while its body instructs them to eat leaves to make up for the lack of nutrients.
Of course, your puppy might also be eating leaves to supplement their diet if you’re not feeding them enough food or as frequently as they need it. Be sure to read the label of your puppy food bag and check with your veterinarian to keep up with the right amount of food for your growing puppy’s size.
Although eating leaves can be normal behavior in puppies, it can also signify an underlying health issue. Some of the health problems that may cause your puppy to eat grass include:
- Upset stomach
Pica is a condition where puppies eat food that isn’t truly food. While pica can result from boredom—especially in energetic creatures like puppies—it can also mean there’s a medical issue.
I encourage you to bring your puppy to the vet if anything about their behavior besides leaf-eating indicates that they might have a health problem.
Dangerous Leaves for Puppies
If you have a puppy eating leaves, it is vital to know the types of leaves they’re consuming. Certain plants have leaves with toxins that can cause your puppy to drool excessively in the best cases.
Some of the most dangerous plant species that can harm your puppy’s health if they eat its leaves include:
- Tomato plants
- Japanese yews
- Black walnut trees
- Autumn crocuses
Should your puppy vomit, have diarrhea, or display other troubling symptoms after they eat leaves, take them to the vet immediately.
A Note on Pesticides
Even if you don’t have any dangerous plants in your backyard, pesticides can do a number on your puppy’s health.
Pesticides and insecticides are harmful chemicals that can interfere with your puppy’s nervous system. Therefore, stopping your puppy from eating leaves is vital if you know the plant contains pesticides or insecticides.
How To Stop Your Puppy From Eating Leaves?
If you’re concerned about your puppy eating leaves with pesticides or from toxic plants, the best solution is to get them to stop this behavior.
I’ll admit it—this is easier said than done for spunky, curious puppies. But the strategies below will help you improve your chances of your puppy turning to their toys instead of your tomato plants.
Keep Them Stimulated
If your puppy is eating leaves because they have nothing better to do, giving them a toy to play with is an excellent solution.
One of my tricks for keeping puppies engaged with their toys is only to let them have a couple of toys at a time. Then, every few days, I remove those toys and switch them out with another set of toys, alternating between the two sets.
Give Them More Exercise
Exercise can help tire your puppy out, reducing their interest in eating leaves. But you must be careful with how much exercise you give them; too much exercise can cause your puppy joint and bone issues when they’re an adult.
Change Their Diet
Purchase a new, higher-quality food for your puppy to see if the nutrient boost stops their leaf-eating behavior. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bag to ensure you’re feeding your puppy the appropriate quantity and number of times per day for their age.
When in doubt, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for their nutritional advice.
Use a Fence
It may not be the most appealing solution, but if you have toxic plants in your yard, putting up a fence to keep your puppy away from them is ideal.
Of course, the wind can carry the plant’s leaves into your dog’s side of the yard. But it still significantly reduces your puppy’s accessibility to toxic leaves.
Should You Let Your Puppy Eat Leaves?
In theory, your puppy eating leaves isn’t inherently troubling. Leaf-eating is a fun pastime for many puppies, and it’s also a natural instinct.
As long as the leaves your puppy eats aren’t toxic and they eat them in small amounts, there’s no reason to worry about this behavior.
But if you have poisonous plants in your yard or suspect your puppy is eating leaves due to nutrient deficiency or health reasons, it’s vital to take them to the vet and use the methods I described here to stop them from eating leaves.