As a responsible owner, you feed your dog meals of the highest quality. So why do dogs eat grass? First, rest assured that you’re not alone in your worries, especially if your dog eats grass to make themselves vomit.
Technically speaking, dogs eating grass is a form of pica, a disorder characterized by eating things that aren’t food. Sometimes pica can indicate that your dog has a nutritional deficiency, but other times, it’s simply down to boredom or enjoying the taste of the object.
Reasons Why Your Dog is Eating Grass
Dogs eat grass for a number of reasons, many of which are completely natural. In a small study of 49 owners, 79% of the participating dogs had eaten grass at some point in their lives. Another study about dogs who eat plants found that grass is the most commonly consumed plant. Dogs eat grass out of boredom, to treat a nutritional deficiency, to induce vomiting, and because they enjoy the taste.
Although many dogs enjoy being outside, some quickly get bored and need to find a way to pass the time. As a result, some dogs nibble on grass that’s readily available. Dogs might also eat grass to gain human interaction if they feel neglected or ignored. In addition, some anxious dogs will eat grass as a coping mechanism. Whether your dog is bored, lonely, or anxious, it’s often noted that they eat more grass as their contact with their owner decreases.
If you suspect that your dog is bored, it might help to increase their activity. Engage them in some fun and stimulating activities. More frequent walks, new toys, stimulating dog toys, and training are just a few ways to mentally stimulate your pooch! You already show them that you love them, but taking more time out of your day goes a long way.
Grass does not have much nutritional value for dogs. Cellulose is the most abundant constituent in most grasses and is a form of water-insoluble roughage. Dogs need some roughage in their diets. A lack of roughage will impact your dog’s ability to digest their food and pass stool as normal. If your dog is lacking dietary fiber, they might struggle with constipation. To add to this, a small study of a Miniature Poodle found that providing a high-fiber diet eliminated the dog’s need to consume grass.
At the same time, it’s important to know that your dog can have too much fiber as well. If your dog consumes too much fiber, they might defecate more often or even have diarrhea. So, if diarrhea is allowed to persist, your dog can quickly become dehydrated and lose weight. Not only this, but fiber can bind to minerals in your dog’s diet, leading to a lack of other nutrients too. If your dog is losing weight, be sure to book an appointment with your vet.
To Induce Vomiting
It’s hypothesized that some dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Dogs who eat grass to make themselves vomit usually swallow the grass quickly, barely chewing it if at all. It’s thought that the unchewed grass might tickle the dog’s throat to cause the vomiting reaction. Therefore, if your pet shows signs of illness alongside eating grass, there could be an underlying cause. Some medical problems such as gastric reflux, pancreatitis, or inflammatory bowel disease could be causing your dog gastrointestinal discomfort.
At the same time, grazing doesn’t usually lead to vomiting in healthy dogs. In fact, less than 25% of dogs who graze will vomit after eating grass. It’s a common misconception that dogs will only ever eat grass to make themselves vomit, and many owners worry that their pet is feeling sick when they graze. Rest assured that this is not always the case!
Simply Liking Grass
For some dogs, there does not appear to be some underlying reason for grazing on grass. Despite the numerous scientific explanations, we can’t overlook the simplest reason of them all – that some dogs just like it! Dogs might enjoy the texture and the taste of fresh grass in their mouths. In fact, many dogs love to eat fresh grass in the spring when it’s newly grown. In addition, dogs are omnivores, not carnivores, so it’s natural for them to eat some plant matter as well as meat.
Like humans, dogs need fiber too! Dietary fiber increases the weight and bulk of stool. The bulkier stool is much easier to pass, reducing the risk of constipation. Dietary fiber also promotes the growth of good gut bacteria. The good bacteria produce important nutrients for the body, including short-chain fatty acids. These two factors promote good digestive health.
Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Grass?
Most experts agree that grazing isn’t harmful to dogs. However, one thing to keep in mind is that some pesticides and herbicides used on peoples’ lawns can be toxic to our pets. Exposure to pesticides can result in clinical signs of vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea. If you think your dog has been exposed to a pesticide, contact Pet Poison Helpline and your vet for recommendations.
Additionally, some house and garden plants are toxic to dogs, which can cause health problems if your dog consumes them alongside grass. The American Yew, American Holly, Amaryllis, Azalea, Common Privet, Golden Ragwort, and many other outdoor plants are toxic to dogs. If you allow your dog to consume grass from your lawn, make sure that other plants in your garden are safe. To check which plants are safe for dogs, check the ASPCA‘s Animal Poison Control Center for more details.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass – FAQs
Are you concerned about your dog eating grass? Feel free to consult our Frequently Asked Questions for more details on this unusual but common behavior. If in doubt about your pet’s health, always ask your vet for guidance!
Should you Let Your Dog Eat Grass?
For the most part, eating grass is harmless to dogs. Many dogs eat grass out of boredom or simply for the taste of it, so the occasional grazing session won’t do any harm. However, it should be noted that dogs will also eat grass to increase their fiber intake.
If your dog takes in too much fiber, there can be some unwanted changes to their digestive system. For one, your dog might defecate more often or have diarrhea. If allowed to progress, this can lead to your dog not absorbing enough essential nutrients from their diet. This is because fiber can bind minerals, leading to weight loss and poor coat quality.
Do Dogs Eat Grass to Settle Their Stomach?
When your dog is having tummy troubles, they might turn to grass for relief. This is a deliberate attempt to induce vomiting. If your dog is struggling with an upset stomach, their instinct might be to throw up as a form of relief. But what causes an upset stomach?
Gastroenteritis is the general term for stomach upset in dogs. In dogs, gastroenteritis is caused by many things. It can be caused by something as simple as eating something they shouldn’t have, to something more severe such as organ failure. Most cases of mild gastroenteritis improve within one or two days, and grazing might speed up the process.
Why is My Dog Eating Grass All of a Sudden?
If your dog has suddenly begun eating grass, it’s worth considering the factors that might influence their behavior. Are there any new stressors in the house? If so, your dog could be grazing to cope with stress. Are you giving your dog less attention than usual? Your pup might be trying to tell you to pay attention to them. Have you changed your pet’s diet recently? A diet with less fiber could be compelling your pooch to consume grass for more fiber. Is your dog displaying signs of a health problem, such as diarrhea or vomiting? If yes, your dog could have a gastrointestinal problem that will need evaluation by a vet.
Eating grass, when coupled with other behavioral changes, is a generalized symptom that will need further investigation by a vet. You cannot accurately diagnose your dog at home, so if your pet is grazing and showing signs of poor health, make sure you ask for veterinary advice before making any changes to their diet and care.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass and Weeds?
Dogs eat grass for several reasons. The simplest reason is that some dogs just enjoy the taste and texture of fresh grass. For some, eating grass is a way to combat boredom, and perhaps to even garner attention from their owners. Other dogs eat grass due to a lack of fiber in their diet; dogs need fiber for a healthy digestive system like we do. As well as this, eating grass sometimes induces vomiting, especially when dogs don’t chew the grass and swallow it whole. If your dog eats grass alongside exhibiting worrying symptoms, it’s possible that they are struggling with a gastrointestinal disease that they are trying to relieve through vomiting.
Eating grass is often a normal and harmless behavior in dogs. Boredom, enjoying the taste of grass and a need for more fiber are some of the most common causes. In more uncommon cases, this form of pica can be a sign of gastroenteritis. If you suspect gastroenteritis, it’s best to ask your vet for advice on how to treat it.