Dogs just love to get their hands on (and mouths in) anything and everything they come across, grass included. And no, you shouldn’t be worried that your dog has transformed into a cow if you see them eating grass, because this is a very common thing that many dogs like to do, much to the confusion of dog owners.
It has even been found in studies that 79% of dogs which have access to plants/grass had eaten from them at least once in their lifetime.
It has also been found that grass is the most common plant that dogs like to eat.
But, exactly why do dogs eat grass? What is is exactly that’s triggering this behavior? And is it safe for dogs to eat grass? Or will eating grass hurt your dog?
Truth be told, dogs eat grass for many different reasons and there are many theories that try to pin-point just why dogs love to do this, which we will be discussing in the following section.
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Dogs Eating Grass: Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
Dogs tend to eat grass for different reasons, but here are some of the most common reasons that have been scientifically proven:
- Varying Food Source: Today, dogs look at plants as an alternate food source in their diet to vary things up.
- Remedies: Grass is known to help your dog when they’re passing excessive gas or have an upset stomach. Many times, the stomach upset can be an indication of more serious problems with your dog’s health, which is why you should notify your veterinarian about a similar situation if it occurs.
- Vomiting: One very common reason that dogs eat grass is to induce vomiting, which is apparent in dogs that eat grass in a fast manner, which almost always results in them vomiting. Meanwhile, dogs that eat grass slowly almost never vomit afterwards. This theory assumes that dogs eat grass in a rapid manner in order to vomit so that they get rid of something in their system that’s bothering them.
- Improving Digestion: Another very common reason dogs eat grass is to improve their digestive system. Since grass contains high amounts of fiber, dogs who consume diets that lack in sufficient fiber quantities choose to get their required amount of fiber from grass so that they can then properly digest whatever food they eat and have an easier time when it comes to passing stool.
- Nutritional Needs: If your dog is eating grass, it could very well be because they aren’t receiving enough nutrients in their diet, especially fiber in this case.
- Enjoyment: Just like we humans do things for fun because we enjoy doing so, your dog might be doing the same when they eat grass, be it because of smell, taste, texture or whatever. You would be surprised to learn that many dogs actually find grass to be tasty! If this is indeed the reason as to why your dog is eating grass, then they will almost never show signs of being sick before they eat grass and will almost never vomit after they do. If your dog shows signs of being sick before they eat grass and vomit after they finish, then they are most probably doing it to vomit and feel better.
- Boredom: In many cases, boredom could very well drive your dog to do some crazy and desperate things like eating grass so that they either entertain themselves or grab your attention. This is why it’s very important to make sure that you supply your dog with enough physical activities, toys for them to play with (chew toys, for example) and mental challenges each and every day, because boredom brings nothing but problems for your dog.
- Psychological Disorders: If your dog suffers from psychological problems like anxiety disorders, they may very well resort to eating grass as a way to relieve stress. This becomes most probably true when your dog displays clear signs of anxiety during the time they eat grass.
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Grass?
It is generally agreed upon by experts in this field that dogs eating grass isn’t a dangerous or harmful thing.
While there isn’t any real benefit to dogs eating grass, there isn’t any serious harm to it as well.
With that said, there’s a difference between harmless grass eating and excessive grass eating, the latter being something you never want to see your dog do because it’s almost always a sign of something serious.
Here are some of the things you have to look out for if your dog eats grass:
- Sudden Increase: A sudden drastic increase in eating grass could mean that your dog is suffering from a serious illness that they are trying to solve by themselves, in which case you should immediately get them to professional veterinary care.
- Chemicals: If your dog is a heavy grass eater, you must make sure that the grass they are eating does not contain any chemicals, or else that will just be poison building up in your dog’s system. You mostly have to be wary of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that have been used on the grass, which are most often found on the grass of public parks where you might take your dog for a friendly walk. Your dog can either consume the grass from the park and ingest all the chemicals that are found on it, or even lick the chemicals off the pads of their feet after they walk on the affected grass.
- Vomiting: Many dogs will vomit after they eat grass at a very fast pace. This could be due to something as simple as a food allergy, or much more serious underlying health complication. Generally, if your dog continuously eats grass and vomits afterwards, you’re best off getting them checked with your veterinarian. If left unattended, frequent vomiting can lead to serious damage to your dog’s organs and teeth.
How To Stop Dogs From Eating Grass
Even though dogs eating grass isn’t really dangerous or harmful to their health, you may or may not be annoyed by it and want to stop it.
The first step towards stopping your dog from eating grass is to pay your veterinarian a visit for some tests, mainly a blood test, fecal test and test by which they will be able to tell if there are any problems with your dog’s health that are prompting them to eat grass.
Make sure you properly note whether or not your dog shows unusual signs before they eat grass (such as severe anxiety or nausea) and after they eat grass (such as frequent vomiting), because your veterinarian must know about these things in order to perform a proper diagnosis on your dog.
Besides having your veterinarian check up on your dog, here are some changes you can make which may very well go a long way in stopping your dog from eating grass.
- High Fiber Diet: One of the most common methods by which dogs stop eating grass is being introduced to a high-fiber diet, simply because of the most common reasons dogs eat grass in the first place is because their diets are low in fiber. However, always keep in mind that any changes to your dog’s diet (such as from low fiber to high fiber in this case) should be done slowly and gradually, because dogs have very sensitive digestive systems that will be easily upset with rapid dietary changes all of a sudden.
- High Quality, Premium Dog Food: You should stick to feeding your dog high quality, premium dog food because a lot of the times nutrient deficiency in your dog’s diet is what leads them to eat grass. If you feed your dog high quality, premium dog food, you can make sure that they’re getting all the sufficient vitamins and minerals they need, and they won’t need to go looking for them in grass.
- Physical Activity And Entertainment: Because many dogs eat grass simply due to boredom or lack of physical activity, you must make sure that your dog gets the daily physical exercise, mental stimulation and entertainment (with their favorite chewing toys, for example) they need. What better way to keep your dog’s mind off chewing on that grass than by giving them a chewing bone toy?
- Professional Training: If your dog is eating away on grass due to an underlying condition such as anxiety, then the best choice to go with is getting them professional therapy and training by someone who is very experienced with these sort of problems and knows exactly what they are doing. Professional training may also come in very handy in cases where your dog eats grass simply because they likes the taste of it. Proper behavior training from a certified professional in this field who knows what they’re doing always does the trick.
Conclusion On “Why Do Dogs Eat Grass”
In conclusion, dogs eating grass is a much more common phenomenon than one might think, and a much less dangerous one than we tend to make it out to be.
There are many reasons that could drive your dog to eat grass, and it’s not a problem unless abnormal signs start showing up or some elements we talked about above are present in the grass.
If no bad signs we discussed are present, then you’re free to train your dog to stop eating grass, or just let them go at it and have all the fun their heart desires, it’s up to you! 🙂