Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Is It Bad For Them?
Updated: Feb 3
I‘m sure as dog owners, we have always thought and questioned why our dogs feel the need to chomp away at our grass like cows; even though we feed them meals of the best possible quality! It is very common to see your four legged friend graze away at your lawn but research has proven it is completely natural behaviour and could possibly stem from their ancestral past as wolves..
I hear you ask… why do dogs eat grass? Is it normal? Is it bad for them? The reason isn’t particularly ground-breaking but dogs eat grass simply because they are either hungry, they like the taste of your freshly cut lawn or are looking to relieve their upset stomachs.
According to web md, “Dogs eating grass is actually quite common (it has been observed in wild dogs, too, and may be completely natural) and this form of pica does not usually cause too many problems. In fact, most veterinarians consider it normal dog behaviour.”
Further evidence suggests the majority of dogs that eat grass are not unwell beforehand, or at least they don’t appear so. In addition, fewer than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass, according to their owners. Grass-eating doesn’t usually lead to throwing up -- less than 25% of dogs that eat grass vomit regularly after grazing.
Where could there be an issue with eating grass?
An issue could arise if your pup is throwing up excessively afterwards, or if they are eating grass straight after a meal; even when they are full. We’d recommend that you observe the patch of grass your dog is eating from as certain herbicides and pesticides can be used on lawns which can be fairly toxic; especially if ingested.
A number of common house and garden plants are toxic, which could lead to various problems if your dog munches on them along with the lawn. If you would like to learn more about toxic and non-toxic plants Visit ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center website.
What’s the reason for my dog eating grass?
Modern dogs have the luxury of not exhorting their energy to hunt for their food, but that doesn’t mean they don’t retain the natural instinct to scavenge as they once did as wild dogs. Some dogs, even those that love their commercial branded dog food, will eat grass as a reflection of their heritage and their inner need to be scavengers.
Other suggested reasons why your dog might be eating grass include: improving digestion, treating intestinal worms, or fulfilling some unmet nutritional need, including the need for fibre.
Pooches need roughage in their diets and grass is a good source of fibre, phytonutrients, chlorophyll and potassium. A lack of roughage affects the dog’s ability to digest food and pass stool, so grass may help their bodily functions run more smoothly.
Is it true that dogs eat grass to settle their stomachs?
According to Family VetCare, “Most Vets agree that eating grass can help soothe a dog’s upset stomach. An 'upset stomach' usually means that stomach acids are building up. When acid builds up in our own stomachs, people often take an antacid knowing they’ll feel better soon. In dogs, eating grass may have the same effect in acting as a ‘natural antacid’. Most dogs appear to feel better after eating grass, but this relief is often temporary as most dogs vomit afterwards”.
On the chance that your dog’s pica behaviour is caused by a nutritional deficiency, switching to a more nutritious dog food plan, especially a high-fibre variety could help alleviate the problem.
How do I stop my dog from eating grass?
VCA Hospitals advises, “Dogs that respond to food treats may be trained to stop the grass eating in exchange for a better option. That means you need to bring treats along when you take your dog for a walk and accompany him on potty breaks. Any time the dog leans down to nibble grass, distract him by directing him to walk in another direction or offer a verbal correction and offer a treat when your pup complies."
This behavioural intervention is a technique which I’ve tried on my own dog and has worked wonders to stop him eating excessive grass! If your struggling to think of other ways to distract your dog, take a look at my article on 'fun indoor games to play with your dog whilst in isolation'.
In summary, we still do not fully understand why dogs eat grass and if you are worried about your dog's health always head to your local vet for professional advice first. On a similar topic, If you are concerned your dog has eaten human food are you do not understand the risks, head over to blog post '25 human foods dogs can/cannot eat' where we educate you on the human foods your pup can and cannot eat.
Thank you for reading and leave any questions you may have in the comments section below.