Have you ever taken Fido outside for some afternoon play and just stood there puzzled, watching him snack on the lawn? Eating grass is a weird (yet common!) habit that many dogs have. But why do they eat grass?
Well, the good news is that your pup is probably eating grass for digestive purposes. See grass contains nutrients like fiber that aids Fido’s tummy function. That’s also why some dogs enjoy having some delicious green veggies thrown in their meal from time to time.
Many vets think a puppy’s newfound taste for green grass is perfectly normal. But if you’re a concerned pet parent who needs to know why, there are a few reasons why your dog eats grass.
Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Well, just like every human, dogs need to have fiber in their diets to have a digestive tract that works well. Also, like us, puppies are omnivores which means they eat foods that are of both plants as well as animals.
Eating grass might be a simple, and apparently delicious way for dogs to add some roughage to their diets. Fibrous veggies like grass help keep things moving through your doggie’s tummy.
Is eating grass dangerous at all?
If Fido is eating grass and is showing signs of stomach problems… take him to a vet. Your dog might be having ill effects of gastric reflux, pancreatitis, or the “ow ows” when stooling.
Other side effects of eating grass to look out for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stool blockage
If you see any of the above signs or anything else troubling, it’s best to see a veterinary professional. But right now with COVID-19, vets may be challenging to get into. If the side effects seem mild, you can try the next best thing for dog tummy issues.
Does eating grass cause my dog to vomit?
Some dog parents think their dog eats grass to soothe an upset stomach by purposely making themselves throw up. But others think eating grass is a habit they’ve picked up that happens to make them throw up. So which is it?
Studies show that under 25% of dogs throw up after eating grass. So it’s unlikely that Fido goes to the green stuff as a type of self-medication.
Unfortunately for us parents, only 10% of dogs show signs of sickness before eating grass. More importantly, most dogs aren’t sickened before they eat grass and don’t vomit after.
But there might be other stomach related needs filled by grazing. Dogs need roughage in their diet and grass is a decent source of fiber. An absence of roughage influences the dog’s ability to process food and pass stool. So grass may really enable their bodily functions to run more easily.
As always though, talk with your vet to rule out any serious medical conditions and get proper treatment.
Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Like people who bite their nails, dogs will eat grass because of nervousness. If your trusted companion isn’t showing signs of tummy issues then the reason may be mental. If your pup appears to be bored then expanding the length of walks could help with grass-eating.
- Your doggie may be bored and needs to do something to pass the time. Snacking on grass helps fill their hours and their bellies.
- Your doggie craves your attention and communication. In the event that Fido feels ignored, he may resort to eating grass to get your attention.
- Anxious dogs eat grass as a comforting system much like an anxious person bites their nails. Have there been any new changes in the house that may have created stress? Moving homes, new routines, a new pet, and different noises could all trigger some type of anxious response such as grass eating.
Regardless of whether dogs are bored, lonesome, or on edge, pay attention. It’s often cited that grass-eating increases as the parent’s contact time decreases. So make sure you’re spending plenty of quality time with your dog when you can!
Pawsome Tips For Your Dog’s Grass Eating Anxiety
A dog’s day revolves around his human parent’s day. You’re their main source of comfort, support, and even entertainment. It’s easy for them to become anxious (or bored) when their favorite human is away for long or unexpected periods of time.
If your doggie’s grass eating is induced by anxiety, especially separation anxiety, try leaving an old sheet or shirt with your scent on it when you leave home. This could curb the anxiety while you’re gone and prevent grass-eating later on in the day.
My dog loves it when I play certain “Dog Music” for him. Since my little one has separation anxiety, I leave soothing music on. When I leave the house, I’ll keep the TV on low volume and play this song to keep him calm.
Make sure to give your pooch the love and attention he needs
Do dogs eat grass due to dietary deficiency?
Does your pup eat grass because they’re lacking fiber in their diet? Some pet parents have found that changing their food or eating schedule helps with avoiding grass-eating behavior.
- Is your doggie eating table food scraps?
- Is your dog on an eating schedule?
- Is your dog food cheap or of low quality?
You want to make sure your dog’s food is of good quality. Look for a balance of nutrients and something tasty that Fido actually enjoys eating.
If you do decide to change your dog’s food or schedule be sure to pay attention to his/her reaction.
Did a change in diet or schedule
- Stop the grass eating behavior?
- Keep your dog’s bowel movements regular?
If so, you are probably on track to stop the grass eating.
Another point to remember is that more youthful dogs tend to grass more than their seniors. I think this is because they are actively growing and grass can promote tummy health. Puppies are also very curious and may just be exploring and getting familiar with the world. So they eat grass!
Your Dog Is Probably Eating Grass For His Tummy
It’s unlikely your dog is eating grass to make himself vomit. In fact, Andrea Rediger, from the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, points out that, “[…] undomesticated dogs are naturally omnivores (meat and plant-eaters), therefore domesticated dogs instinctively include plant material in their diet.”
There is a common misunderstanding with dogs. They give all appearances of being carnivores that beg for bones and other meaty foods. While their intestines aren’t long enough to process only fruits and vegetables, they DO crave a balanced diet. Dogs are omnivores and want to eat both meat and vegetables.
Imagine having to eat the same meal, day in and day out. Every. Single. Meal. As great as it may taste, after 107 days of it you might get bored and want to eat grass too.
How can I find out if my dog needs or likes vegetables?
Many human foods are perfectly safe for dogs yet some are very unhealthy and downright dangerous. It’s critical for you to learn which fruits and vegetable dogs can eat.
After doing your research, you can start testing dog-friendly vegetables with your pup. You should be able to tell what he likes and what he doesn’t by how fast they gobble it up.
Every dog is unique. My dog LOVES carrots…but only if it’s thinly sliced with a grater. If I give him larger pieces, he’ll lick them and walk away.
Tips on how you can find out if your pup likes eating vegetables.
- Experiment with different flavors
- Does your pup look happy after eating?
- Pay attention to how fast Fido eats
- Does your puppy enjoy eating grass?
- Watch your doggie’s reaction to your dinner. They will often tell you what on the plate they want!
So…should I stop my dog from eating grass?
Most specialists say that letting your dog eat grass is no real hazard.
If you think Fido is eating grass because he’s bored, then be sure he’s getting enough exercise and enrichment. Pull out the frisbee and toss it across the yard or get him an extreme chew toy to keep him involved.
It’s possible that your doggy’s newfound habit was brought out by a health deficiency. If changing the puppy’s food, try a high-fiber chow. This could help reduce problems.
But, truly, specialists agree that the grass grazing itself isn’t harmful to your dog. But one thing to remember is that the pesticides used in gardens can be very harmful when ingested. Also, house and nursery plants can be poisonous and could prompt issues if your dog chomps on them.
You can check the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center site, which keeps tabs on poisonous and non-harmful plants. To be the plants in and around the territory where your dogs are eating grass aren’t hazardous.
What you really want to watch out for is if your dog starts eating more than the usual amount of grass. It could be an indication of an underlying sickness. Also, monitor a teething puppy because eating a lot of leaves and grass can cause a blockage.