Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
You feed your dog well and keep them happy and healthy, so why do they like to chomp on that patch of long, green grass? Dogs eating the green stuff is actually pretty common and overall is pretty harmless but when it comes to answering the question, ‘why does my dog eat grass?’ then the jury seems to be out on a definitive answer. We look at some of the reasons behind why your pooch seems keen to eat grass and what you can – and should – do about it.
Why is My Dog Eating Grass?
Dogs eating grass is quite common and is actually a form of pica – the technical term for a desire to eat items or objects that are not conventional food. In fact, most dogs who have access to fresh, green grass will have eaten it at some point and this behavior has also been observed in wild dogs too. However, the actual reason behind why your pooch likes to have a chomp on the green stuff is not totally clear, with several main theories providing potential answers, including:
The simplest theory as to why you have a dog desperate to eat grass is that they really like the taste! Dogs are curious creatures in that they have a habit of eating the strangest things, some more palatable to us humans than others, and grass could well be just a tasty treat. Grazing on long grass as you are out and about, could be the equivalent of a tasty buffet for your pooch, especially in the spring when those grass shoots are young and juicy. They may also like the texture of the grass in their mouths and like to have a chew as they go about their walk.
Another explanation for your hound’s taste for eating grass is that he has evolved to do so, and it all harks back to his ancestors in the wild. The prey that wild canids such as wolves and foxes would catch and eat were typically herbivores and, as the predator would eat all of the animal; would also eat a lot of the grass and plants that would be in the intestines of their meal. Many wild canids are also known to eat certain berries and plants, so indicating that as omnivores, dogs eat grass as part of their natural, ‘wild’ diet. Another theory is that in the wild your dog would be a scavenger, eating anything and everything edible they could find, and so has evolved a taste for healthy, fresh grass in order to fulfil their daily nutritional requirement.
- To soothe an upset tum
A common belief as to why dogs eat grass is to soothe an upset digestive system or even help induce vomiting if your pup has eaten something that has not agreed with him.
One suggestion is that by eating long grass quickly, the unchewed pieces will irritate their throats and make your dog retch. But this connection between a dog eating grass and vomiting doesn’t always add up and there is a question as to whether your dog is smart enough to know this could work. And in most cases, grass will not make a dog vomit. It is more likely that the grass may settle a gassy stomach or will help to improve their digestion.
- Nutritional boost
While your dog is most probably enjoying the texture and taste of fresh grass, they could also be instinctively eating it for the goodness or even to make up for a nutritional deficiency in their diet. Grass is full of fiber, which dogs need for a healthy digestion and smooth running bodily functions so if your dog is a repeated grass-eating offender, it may be worth having a look at their diet and supplement if it is lacking in some of the essential nutrients your pet really needs.
Another suggestion as to why you may have a grass-muncher is that your dog is getting easily bored, especially when out on their walk. Frequent chewing is a key sign of boredom in canines and is an indication that they need more to do. Many dogs crave interaction with their human and so their grass chewing obsession could be a signal that they want you to shake up their routine and introduce more fun and stimulating activity when out and about.
Looking at ways to add more to their walk time, including play, games and new sights and smells may well divert your pup from the hedgerows as they have something altogether more fun and interesting to do. And if their grass grazing continues at home in the garden then introducing a chew or food-puzzle toy could well do the trick.
Is Grass Safe to Eat?
While grass grazing isn’t harmful in itself, one thing to always be mindful of is the quality of the grass and to be sure that it hasn’t been contaminated by pesticides and herbicides which can potentially be toxic to your dog if ingested. If your dog likes to munch grass in your garden, make sure you are only using pet-safe gardening products, such as lawn fertilizer and pest control. You also need to be vigilant when out and about, as there could be other plants amongst the grass that could be harmful to your pet. And some wildlife on the grass – such as slugs and snails – can also carry diseases, including lungworm, which can make your pet very sick. And as well as a potential poisoning risk, long grass can also harbor seeds which can get lodged in your pooch’s ears, eyes and paws, causing irritation and allergies.
My Dog is Eating Grass – Should I Stop It?
Occasional grass eating is nothing to worry about and is not going to harm your pet, but if you feel it is starting to become an obsession, or you are concerned about the location or quality of the grass, then this is a habit you should really try to nip in the bud.
If you are concerned by his behavior, then try and work out what might be behind his taste for grass, whether it is an upset tum, lack of nutrients or boredom, as these are all potential reasons you can do something about. Add more interest and play to his routine, check his dog food to ensure it giving him everything he needs or have a vet check-up to see if there is a digestive issue that needs to be addressed.
When to See Your Vet
The occasional blow out on a nice patch of juicy, fresh grass should not cause any problems, but if your pooch is displaying any of the following, then a visit to the vet for a chat is in order:
- Your dog is chowing down on grass, but off his normal dog food
- His grass eating is becoming excessive, even obsessive
- He is eating grass and repeatedly vomiting in a short period of time
- He simply doesn’t seem himself or appears unwell
A quick check up can determine whether his grass eating is a harmless habit or if there is something else going on that needs further investigation or treatment. As always, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your four-legged friend.