Sometimes, dogs eat grass and swallow it. Other times, they chew it up and spit it out. Ever wondered what that’s all about?
One of the most common questions veterinarians get asked is, “Why does my dog eat grass?”.
They answer this question every day, which means lots of dogs eat grass. So, the question may be simple, but the answer is not.
By reading through the sections below, you can better understand this dog’s behavior and determine whether or not there is an underlying issue you should pay attention to in your dog.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
One of the most puzzling things dogs tend to chow down on is grass. This behavior may seem strange to humans, but it’s widespread in dogs.
Here are our top 3 reasons why dogs eat grass.
1. Nutrient Deficiency
There’s no answer to why dogs eat grass, but some experts believe dogs may be craving a nutritional component like fiber. In other words, consuming objects that are not food might be a sign of a nutritional gap in fiber, vitamins, or minerals.
Many diet deficiencies are rooted in missing vitamins, nutrients, or minerals absent from daily intake.
For example, it could be your dog’s way of getting more fiber, which helps them pass gas and stools and assists other bodily functions.
Neglecting fiber in a dog’s diet can impact their ability to pass stools and digest food. Eating grass can be your pup’s way of helping their body function more smoothly.
Therefore, if a dog is not getting their nutritional needs met, it’s more likely to eat grass.
But if a dog’s diet is complete and balanced, eating grass may not be related to a deficiency. Instead, it might be instinct.
Dogs aren’t picky eaters, and most dog owners recognize that. They are natural scavengers. They’ve evolved to find a meal wherever they go.
One theory suggests that your dog is just following the evolutionary path set by his undomesticated ancestors.
A straightforward explanation for why dogs eat grass is instinct. In the past, dogs survived by eating grass and other plants, meat and bones, and food scraps that could be found around groups of humans.
Dogs are biologically predisposed to hunt and scavenge for food, just like their ancestors did back in the day. So grass eating is a habit inherited from wild dogs ago.
On top of that, dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants and naturally crave the act of eating grass as part of their genetic makeup, dating back to when they hunted their prey.
Therefore, your dog may have an instinctual “taste” for grass.
3. Psychological Reasons
Another reason your dog might be eating grass is that they are experiencing anxiety.
For example, a dog that is apprehensive when another dog or person approaches him may suddenly start to sniff or even eat grass.
In some cases, grass-eating can be a regular anxious habit similar to a nervous person chewing on their nails or smacking/popping the gum they are chewing on.
Finally, there are one other psychological reason dogs may eat grass: they like the way it tastes.
Yes, we cannot overlook the simplest explanation of all, that like it, especially when it’s young, green, and tender.
They may also enjoy the texture, which is delightfully different from the dry kibble or canned food they usually find in their bowls.
Some dogs only eat grass in specific locations or at certain times of the year, which contributes to the idea that they like the taste and texture of the grass they chew.
As with many concerning behaviors, they were eating grass may be a sign of boredom in your dog. Unfortunately, dogs sometimes resort to destructive behaviors when they’re bored.
Dogs get bored when they don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation. Grass eating could be one of those behaviors that stem from boredom.
If boredom is the cause of your dog’s grass-eating, the behavior should stop once your dog gets more exercise and interaction with you.
Is It Bad If My Dog Is Eating Grass?
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I let my dog eat grass?” the good news is that eating grass can be healthy and harmless in many cases.
According to a Pets Web MD study, fewer than 10% of dogs appear to be sick before eating grass, and less than 25% of dogs who eat grass regularly vomit after grazing.
The veterinarians concluded that grass-eating is expected behavior in normal dogs in most cases and has no correlation with illness.
For otherwise healthy dogs and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered safe.
However, there are some things that you should look out for if this behavior happens, including:
- While grass is not toxic to dogs, many plants are not, including tulips, azaleas, and sage palms.
- Yard sprays, such as weed control, can turn grass and plants toxic. The herbicides and pesticides sprayed on your lawn can harm your dog. If you don’t know if an area is chemical-free or not, don’t let your dog graze.
- While it’s not typically harmful to dogs, eating grass can cause intestinal parasites that are easily picked up from animal droppings and stools.
- Always keep an eye on your pup while they are outside. Long, rigid blades of grass with sharp edges can easily scratch or cut your pet’s throat or esophagus.
- While eating grass is okay, make sure your dog isn’t eating things that can be unhealthy or cause digestive blockages like rocks, leaves, sticks, and, yes, even poop.
Many experts believe that dogs sometimes eat grass to induce vomiting – which, in turn, relieves their upset stomachs.
However, it’s important to note that there’s no solid scientific evidence to prove this theory one way or the other.
The good news is that most dogs’ occasional nibble on the turf isn’t a problem. For whatever reason, your pet may get some satisfaction out of it without causing any harm.
So if your dog is a grazer, don’t worry. Eating grass is a perfectly normal canine behavior, and there’s nothing wrong with it nine times out of ten.
However, get in touch with your veterinarian if your dog eats grass excessively or if they repeatedly vomit, more than just once, after grazing the ground.