Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

Are you wondering if your dog eating grass and vomiting is normal? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we offer reasons, tips, and insights on why dogs eat grass.

So, why do dogs eat grass?

It is usual for dogs to eat grass. Studies show that less than 25% of dogs eat grass and vomit, and only 10% of dogs have shown signs of being ill before eating grass. Possible reasons for eating are indigestion, intestinal worms, or fulfilling the need for more fiber in their diets.

Read on to discover the different reasons dogs eat grass and the measures you can take to ensure that your dog is healthy.

What makes dogs eat grass?

You are not alone in your quest to figure out why your dog eats grass; it is a common problem among dog owners. This grass-eating habit is technically known as pica behavior. There are several myths and theories about this grass-eating behavior, though. Most people believe that it is because the dog is ill or has a dietary deficiency. Luckily, studies by veterinary experts have dug deeper into this question.

Let’s take a look at the possible reasons behind the grass-eating habit of your canid friend.

1. Physical reasons

A study conducted to survey and observe dogs’ grass-eating habits, revealed the following findings:

  • Sixty-eight percent of the participants surveyed reported that their dogs had a grass intake on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Only eight percent of the participants said that their dogs show signs of illness before eating grass.
  • Twenty-two percent of the participants shared that their dogs vomited after eating grass.
  • Younger dogs ate grass more often than older ones, notably, without appearing ill or vomiting after consuming grass.

These findings show that grass-eating appears to be normal behavior for dogs and, in most cases, should not be a cause of alarm for you. 

So the thing is: Most of the dogs eating grass aren’t sick and don’t necessarily vomit after.

2. Psychological reasons

Dogs are social animals, and their day revolves around the activities of their owners. So, if they feel neglected, they may get anxious, bored, or lonely and resort to habits like munching on grass as a comfort mechanism to curb their anxiety.

You can provide your dog with a new, challenging toy for mental stimulation, or, an old t-shirt that has the owner’s familiar scent on it, to comfort them. Another option can be to take them for walks or playtime more often, to keep them active and relieve boredom.

3. Instinctive behavior

Wild dogs hunt and eat whatever helps meet their dietary purposes. Dogs have this instinct to scavenge even if they are domesticated and don’t usually have to hunt for their meals. This hereditary instinct may lead dogs to graze on the grass to fulfill their scavenger needs.

You need not worry if this grass-eating is occasional and if your dog stays healthy despite it. Let your dog go with its instincts.

What’s the bottom line? There may be different physical, psychological or instinctive reasons why your dog is munching on grass. The good news is: this behavior is not harmful and may reduce over time, especially if your dog is young.

Do dogs eat grass to settle their stomach? 

You might have found your dog eating grass frantically and then throwing up, which may have led you to believe that your dog has something in their tummy they need to expel.

According to another study conducted to compare the grass-eating behaviors of dogs with mild gastrointestinal disturbances to those that were healthy, there was more likelihood of the healthier dogs consuming grass than the ones with stomach uneasiness. 

Dogs sometimes seem anxious before eating grass and go for long blades of grass, swallowing them as quickly as possible without chewing. This behavior can be because they are deliberately attempting to induce vomiting after ingesting something that troubles their stomach. It is believed that the long pieces of grass tickle their throats and the linings of their stomachs to stimulate vomiting.

Now, just like you, dogs need a fiber-rich diet for their digestive systems to function well, which might explain why they resort to eating grass as a means to add roughage to their food, helping it make its way through their gastrointestinal tract. Another biological explanation could be that eating grass enables wild dogs to purge intestinal parasites as the plant material passes through their intestinal tracts, explaining why younger dogs are more likely to eat grass than older ones. It can be because they are more susceptible to intestinal parasites. Therefore, heritage and instinct may have more to do with this habit.

Should I let my dog eat grass? 

Like any good dog-owner, you may have thought if eating grass is good or bad for your dog and whether or not you should let them eat it. Since we have already established so far that this canid behavior has more to do with instinct, changing your dog’s instinctive habits may do more harm than good. There are certain things you could try to make sure there aren’t any other underlying reasons behind your dog grazing on grass.

If you think that this grass-eating habit is an indication of boredom, it might help to ensure that your dog is active and is getting enough exercise. Keep your dog busy with plenty of activities. Interactive games or new toys that provide mental stimulation may prove to be beneficial for your pup. Also, make sure to spend enough time with your canid friend each day, to prevent separation anxiety or loneliness.

A balanced diet is essential in keeping your dog healthy and fit. To make sure that your dog has a well-balanced diet, try switching to a better, high-fiber dog food option, which may help improve your dog’s pica behavior. 

Mostly considered to be harmless, experts recommend that you keep an eye out with the grass-munching behavior. Be careful not to let your dog eat anything treated with harmful fertilizers, pesticides, or insecticides. Before treating your lawn with a new product, double-check to ensure that it is safe for pets.

How do I protect my grass-eater? 

Even though most experts believe that grass-eating, in itself, is not harmful, you should be mindful of the fact that some pesticides or herbicides used on grassy lawns can be toxic for pets. Also, there are quite a few poisonous house and garden plants that may cause problems if ingested by your dog. 

Here’s a list of precautions and things you could do to help keep your grass-munching friend safe from harm:

  • Make sure your grass is dog-friendly. Always check the label before using any new plant or lawn care products to ensure that they are non-toxic. Don’t use harmful pesticides that have toxic chemicals and keep your green areas safe for dogs.
  • Keep your lawn free of dog waste by cleaning it regularly. Cleaning helps ensure that the grass your dog eats does not contain dog poop, reducing the risk of parasite transmission.
  • Watch out for harmful weeds. Certain common weeds can be very harmful to your dog, and you should remove them as soon as they are spotted.
  • Long grasses with sharp edges can cause your dog’s throat to be scratched, which can be a serious medical concern for some dogs.
  • When walking your dog in public areas, keep an eye on warning signs that indicate that chemicals are present in the grass.

By taking these measures, you can ensure that the grass your dog has been grazing on is safe for consumption and will not pose any significant health risks. It is important, nevertheless, to keep an eye on your dog’s grass-eating habits. Whenever you identify a cause for concern, always consult your veterinarian for the best possible advice. 

Signs that there is a need for a visit to the vet 

As we have established above, most veterinary experts believe that letting your dog eat grass poses no substantial risks. It is necessary, however, to keep a watchful eye on your dog for unusual behaviors associated with grass-eating. 

Here is a list of signs that may indicate that your dog needs a consultation with the vet:

  • If there is an obsessive increase in your dog’s grass-eating, it could be an indication of an underlying illness.
  • Frequent vomiting or diarrhea may also signal that your dog is ill.
  • If you observe a decrease in your dog’s appetite, followed by weight loss, you should know that something is wrong.
  • Excessive drooling or lip-licking may also be signs that your dog is unwell.
  • If you notice changes in your dog’s fur, make sure to get it checked.
  • Make sure to monitor a teething puppy since the intake of a lot of grass, leaves, and sticks can cause a blockage.

Apart from these signs, there may be instances when your dog seems healthy but might be suffering from medical issues. Some dogs may experience an underlying gastrointestinal disease with no other apparent signs, which is why veterinarians recommend anti-nausea medication for dogs that consume non-food materials like grass.

Regular visits to the vet ensure that your pup stays trouble-free while enjoying his grass-munching. If you still have concerns or if the grass-eating habit is excessive, or goes on for long periods, don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet. Similarly, if you notice that your dog is not eating regularly or is losing weight, it would be best to have a consultation with your veterinarian.

Related Questions: 

In case you have a few more queries, we have answered some FAQs on the topic for your reference.

Is it safe for my dog to eat grass?

As we have mentioned above, eating grass is usually considered normal dog behavior. However, make sure that your dog does not ingest any harmful chemicals or substances while eating grass, which may cause problems.

Do dogs like the way grass tastes?

Your dog likely enjoys munching on grass. It is possible that your dog likes the flavor and texture of grass and finds it filling and satisfying.

Why do dogs eat leaves?

Dogs may eat leaves for the same reasons that they eat grass. Leaves may be more attractive to dogs owing to their colors and sizes or because they are blown around by the wind. Chasing around and eating leaves may, therefore, provide an exciting activity for dogs.

In conclusion, experts consider eating grass as normal dog behavior, so you can sit back and relax. Even though there are no nutritional benefits to eating grass, it may not hurt your dog either – considering that the grass is not treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Your dog is only following his instincts when you find him grazing on grass so you can let him be. Thankfully, just eating grass poses no significant dangers for your dog, so you don’t need to worry about anything harmful happening to your pup as a result.

Although, if ever you feel that this habit has started becoming a concern, get in touch with your vet for a professional recommendation.

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