So now that warmer temperatures are becoming more reliable than cold, rainy and dreary days, dog owners are back to jogging with their four-legged friends on a more regular schedule.
Nothing like taking a lap or two around William Land Park with Fido and rounding the corner toward the pond and ouch! Fido has stopped to munch on a particular patch of grass. Ouch. As you rub your shoulder back into its socket, you wonder why that spot and why grass.
You start out again, only to ouch! stop again about 40 feet later. You guessed it: more delectable grass that Fido just can’t pass up.
Now we all know what happens with the Fido-grass combination: sometimes it goes smoothly and sometimes there are “difficulties.” So why do dogs persist in eating grass, especially the long-bladed cheet grass? What is the basis for this instinct?
The answer is in the chlorophyll. Remember your basic middle school biology class? Chlorophyll is the ingredient essential for plants being able to absorb energy from light, a process called photosynthesis.
Veterinarians like Dr. Deva Khalsa, writing in Dogs Naturally, report that chlorophyll is noted as a digestive aid and breath freshener and dogs are drawn to it especially in the springtime. The problem is that dogs rarely digest grass well so this source of chlorophyll might not be the best for them.
What most people don’t know, as they are out jogging with their dogs and suffering sore shoulders when Fido stops abruptly, is that chlorophyll and hemoglobin are tremendously alike. First suggested in 1855, researchers began investigating this possibility seriously (as in experiments) circa 1920, determining that the difference resides in one molecule alone. Hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen from our lungs to our organs, is organized around iron. Chlorophyll is organized around magnesium.
Therefore, in the early 1900s, researchers investigated the possibility of chlorophyll’s role in blood formation, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1936 (106,11:925. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.02770110041017). In 2006, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children launched a clinical trial focusing on magnesium and children battling sick cell anemia to investigate whether chlorophyll could help build hemoglobin.
So, what does this mean for dogs eating grass? Well, to date, chlorophyll remains regarded as beneficial on many levels. The problem is that for dogs, consuming grass isn’t the most helpful; to them, it’s their only option. They can’t run down to Raley’s and purchase kale or broccoli and pay with their ASPCA credit card. But as humans, we can help with creating options.
PetMD.com has several blog postings dedicated to this discussion, the majority of which describe adding chlorophyll as a liquid supplement (with veterinarian approval) to a dog’s diet. Greenies chews are a popular option but for dogs who might eat them whole, there’s a concern about esophageal blockage: be sure to purchase the correct size and monitor your Fido during treat time.
Another option for those who prefer the freshest option: steam some vegetables and throw them in the food bowl cut into the appropriate size for your Fido’s bite. Good options would be green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, but also broccoli or green beans. While you’re add it, throw a little extra in the pan for yourself.
Dogtime offers a teeth-cleaner dog treat recipe that features both chlorophyll and activated charcoal as ingredients. Reviews are good!