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December 10, 2020

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Our Vet Weighs In

 

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Our Vet Weighs In

 

Have you ever wondered why your dog eats grass? In this expert article, Dr. Addie explains some common reasons why your pup grazes on grass from time to timeand whether you should worry.

Author: Addie Reinhard, DVM

Byline: Dr. Addie Reinhard, an experienced companion animal veterinarian, specializes in providing reliable veterinary insight on pet topics to help owners better care for their pets.

Key Points

  • Why do dogs eat grass? This can actually be a normal dog behavior, a sign of boredom, or nausea.
  • Pica in dogs is the term for eating substances that provide very little nutritional value and can include rock eating, stick eating, or grass eating.
  • If you notice your dog eating grass, you probably don’t need to stop them unless the yard has been treated with pesticides or fertilizers, or they are eating way too much grass.
  • If your dog has vomiting or diarrhea along with grass eating, you should contact a veterinarian.

Why does my dog eat grass?

Pica in dogs is a term for when your dog chews and eats objects that have no nutritional value. Pica in dogs can cause dogs to eat or chew rocks, sticks, and grass. Eating rocks and sticks is a bad habit, but grass eating is usually a normal behavior. Many people believe that eating grass means that your dog is sick or trying to vomit. Actually, the most common reason for grass eating is that it is a normal dog behavior. If you have been wondering, “why do dogs eat grass”, here are the 3 most common reasons that dogs eat grass.

1.  Eating grass can be normal.

Some dogs eat grass simply because this is considered normal canine behavior. Dogs are technically considered omnivores which means that they eat both meat and plant material. Dogs are able to digest carbohydrates in addition to proteins. Dogs are descendants of wolves, and wolves may have developed this grass eating behavior as a way to rid their intestinal tract of parasites. This behavior may have persisted through evolution to the modern-day dog. One study found that over 75% of healthy dogs eat grass or other plant materials normally. Also, they may just eat grass because they enjoy the taste of grass

2. Your dog may be bored.

Some dogs may just eat grass because they are bored. If your dog has not had enough exercise or physical activity, they may be bored. As a veterinarian, I see grass eating more commonly in bored puppies. If you think your dog is bored and that is the cause for the grass eating, it may be a good idea to play fetch in the yard or go on a long walk. You can also provide puzzle toys which can provide some mental stimulation. Also, it may be a good idea to offer your pup a fun and interactive bouncy fish toy.

3. Dogs that eat grass may be nauseous.

If your dog is showing other symptoms of stomach upset such as vomiting or diarrhea, your dog may be eating grass because they are nauseous. The only time my dog eats grass is when she is feeling nauseous. Researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found around 20% of dogs vomited after eating grass and other plant material. If your dog is showing signs of stomach upset including constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite, you should contact a veterinarian. Your veterinarian may need to prescribe medications like metronidazole for dogs to control diarrhea and stomach upset.

Should you let your dog eat grass?

The majority of the time, a dog eating grass is a harmless behavior. I usually don’t stop my own dog from eating grass unless she starts to eat other plant material. There are certain toxic plants that can be growing in your yard that can harm your dog. In addition, there are a few scenarios in which it can be dangerous for your dog to eat grass and plant material including if it has been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. 

Is eating grass dangerous for dogs?

Most of the time, a dog eating grass is not dangerous. You shouldn’t let your dog eat grass that has recently been treated with chemicals including pesticides or fertilizers. Also, you should not let your dog eat any kind of toxic plants in the yard. Last, is vital to not let your dog eat any foxtails. This plant has tiny pointy seeds that can get lodged in your dog’s throat and gastrointestinal tract. If there are foxtails in your yard, I recommend removing them or not allowing your dog access to that part of the yard.

What should you do if your dog is eating grass?

I recommend keeping an eye on your dog if they are eating grass. Don’t let them eat grass that has been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. In addition, if your dog seems to be eating grass excessively or if they have stomach upset including vomiting or diarrhea, it is probably time to speak with a veterinarian. If you think your pet has eaten some kind of toxic grass or plant in the yard, call a veterinarian and the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

How do I stop my dog from eating grass?

If you notice your dog eating grass excessively, you should probably stop them. One technique to decrease grass eating behavior is to monitor your pup when they are outside in the yard. If they try to eat grass, attempt to distract your dog with a treat instead. You can also use this method if you are on a walk.

A Few Final Thoughts

Why do dogs eat grass? The majority of the time, dogs eat grass because this is normal dog behavior that likely originated from wolves. Sometimes dogs eat grass because they are bored or because they like the taste of it. Occasionally, if you notice your dog eating grass, they may have an upset stomach causing the grass eating. Most of the time, you won’t need to worry about the grass eating unless your dog is eating grass excessively or if your yard has been treated with chemicals. Watch out for foxtails in your yard as they can be extremely harmful to dogs! You should call your vet if you suspect your dog is feeling nauseous or has signs of vomiting or diarrhea.

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