Have you ever let your dog out into the yard and watched them head to the lush green grass and start to mow down? Dog owners everywhere are consistently wondering why do dogs eat grass? Is it because they are bored? Hungry? Sick? Is it something to be concerned with, or is it normal canine behavior?
We wonder if we’re doing something wrong that’s making them feel like they need the grass. We question whether we should be taking them to the veterinarian or if it is OK to leave alone? Whatever the reason, we’re left wondering why is my dog eating grass?
It turns out there are many possible answers to the question why do dogs eat grass – everything from enjoyment to filling a nutritional need. And since that’s the case, perhaps the more important question is not why do dogs eat grass, but is the grass harmful to them?
Thankfully, your dog having a side grass salad to complement his kibbles is probably nothing to be concerned with. And even though no one really knows the answer to why do dogs eat grass, we have compiled the most likely reason your canine is having a little mid-day snack.
What Causes Dogs to Eat Grass?
If we are being 100% honest, no one knows exactly why dogs eat grass. It could be several reasons from requiring the grass’ nutrients to enjoying the taste. While reasons vary and most of them are speculative, the most popular reasons are that they:
- Have an upset stomach
- Need additional nutrients
- Are probiotics
- Think it tastes good
- Have intestinal worms or other tummy issues
- Are born to do it
Regardless of the reasons, most veterinarians consider dogs eating grass to be normal behavior. Not only that, but the activity is also not exclusive to household pups. It has been observed of dogs in the wild too.
Even with all of these suspected key reasons to grass eating, no one truly knows the answer to the question why do dogs eat grass.
Is Eating Grass Safe for Dogs?
As we said previously, most veterinarians consider dogs eating grass to be normal behavior and thus are not terribly concerned with dogs that mow on grass from time-to-time. Even if your dog eats grass and vomits afterward, it might be that they are vomiting for other reasons besides grass consumption.
Generally, pending there are no toxic products on the grass such as fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides on the grass, it is more likely than not that your dog will not be harmed by eating grass. Without the harmful chemicals, the grass is simply a green plant.
If you do have a grass-eating pup, be sure to use only non-toxic chemicals on your lawn, and while you are out and about, keep an eye out for grass that might have been chemically treated.
How To Get Your Dog To Stop Eating Grass
While it is probably safe, you may simply not want your dog to eat grass. You may not have the answer to the question why do dogs eat grass, but you are not comfortable with your dog doing the deed either way. Maybe you simply do not know if grass where you normally visit has been treated with non-toxic substances or it could just really gross you out!
Regardless of the reason you want your dog to stop, we might have a few ideas to get them to skip the grass-filled desert to their daily meal. Try switching his food. A brand, flavor or protein source switch might get your dog back on track and give up the grass. If you have the opportunity, you might want to try switching from kibble or canned food to a raw diet for your pup; he’ll thank you for it! You could also try adding probiotic and digestive enzymes to your pup’s food. This might help them get additional nutrients and mix up the food enough to get them off the grass.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass: Key Reasons
Pica is the term used to describe the disorder where dogs eat things that are not their food, like food. It can indicate a number of things such as a lack of nutrition, an upset tummy or just simple boredom.
Grass eating, and more broadly pica, is mostly observed in puppies and younger dogs. However, it is not exclusive and is seen as fairly common behavior for dogs of all ages. While there is no one reason to explain why dogs eat grass, there are several common key reasons.
An Upset Tummy
Many people speculate that dogs eat large amounts of grass to make themselves vomit when they are not feeling well. The behavior is described as a dog begging to go out who immediately heads to the grass and eats until they vomit.
But not all subscribe to this idea. Some believe dogs simply aren’t smart enough to make mental connections like such. To further counter this, less than 10% of dogs appear to actually be sick prior to eating grass. And fewer than 25% of the dogs that eat grass actually vomit regularly after eating grass – so either it does not work or this is not the real reason.
Ease Nausea And Other Like Symptoms
Instead of trying to induce vomiting, your dog’s grass-eating habit could be him trying to ease nausea, gas or bloating. In the same way that humans use a ginger-based product to release body irritants and improve their digestion, dogs may use grass to do the same.
However, much like dogs self-treating an upset stomach some do not believe that dogs have the smarts to exhibit this kind of behavior.
Dogs might eat grass to self-treat intestinal worms. Much like eating grass might ease nausea or other like symptoms, it is possible that eating grass helps to treat intestinal worms in dogs. Much like with the first three reasons, some believe dogs do not have the mental capacity to drive this kind of behavior.
Meet A Nutritional Need
Dogs may eat grass to fulfill and unmet nutritional need, like that of requiring fiber. We know that grass is a solid source of fiber, roughage, contains phytonutrient, and is high in potassium and chlorophyll. It is also possible that your dog is under-fed, has trouble accessing his food or is just simply bored of it. One study conducted references the story of a dog that regularly ate grass until they gave him new food on a high-fiber diet. After the food change, he never ate grass again.
It Tastes Good
Dogs are eating machines. Some believe that certain dogs simply like the tasted or texture of grass. It could be as simple as the fact that it is a treat for them and they enjoy eating it. Grass enjoying behavior will likely look different from other grass-eating behaviors in that your dog nibbles on selected grass, not all grasses. Maybe he sniffs around from this patch to that patch but only eats pieces of the deep green long grass from the side fence. This behavior is likely related to his enjoyment of eating grass as he’s selecting what he eats instead of eating everything he can get his hands on.
It Cures Boredom
What else is there to do in a dog’s life but eat, sleep and play? Perhaps your green grass-eating canine is bored in the backyard and finds eating grass to be a good pass-time when someone is not throwing the ball for him or playing tug-of-war. Getting your pup to stop eating grass can be as simple as providing him with a chew toy if this is the case.
It Is In Their DNA
Dogs are natural scavengers, and they search for food and nutrients wherever they can get it. Grass eating behavior has not only been observed in household pets but also in wild dogs. It is possible that your dog is eating grass because his father did and his father before him! It simply could be an ancestral trait.
When it comes down to it there is not one explanation to the question why do dogs eat grass. Instead, there are many possible reasons why your dog might munch on a blade of grass, or 20. He might simply be bored, love the taste or be missing something in his diet.
Regardless of the reasons behind it, most veterinarians do not think dogs eating grass is anything to be concerned about. While they are not settled on the answer to why do dogs eat grass either, they do seem to be settled on the fact that there probably is not anything to be concerned with.
If you are looking to forego the behavior, regardless of the reasoning behind it, we suggest trying to change your dog’s food. A simple food change in brand, flavor or protein source might mix it up enough to give your dog the nutrients or food excitement he is looking for. And if you can make the switch from dry to raw food, you should be golden!