Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

Golden retriever in grass

We grew up with a Dalmatian named Wanda, and we vividly remember her running around in the front yard occasionally eating grass then goes on her way to play again. This was before booting up your DSL internet just to do a simple Google search – a time when you had to turn the pages of your telephone book and look for a vet. Although the vet told us it’s normal for dogs to eat grass, I’m sure some of you might be worried about your special friend and their interesting grass-eating behavior. Will my dog stop barking and start mooing? Is my dog ill? Are they hungry to the point where they want salad? Are their chew toys no longer satisfying them? Is this kind of behavior dangerous?

Although it might seem unusual seeing a known carnivore indulge in grass, it is commonly observed for both domesticated and undomesticated dogs to eat grass. A recent study conducted in 2020 shows that 555 out of 626 dog owners surveyed, have dogs that eat grass or other green plants (1). One might associate dogs eating grass as some sort of pica, a disorder in which involves eating things that are not food. In hoomans, pica could be a result of a nutritional deficiency but could also be the same with dogs. Most of the time, your young furry friend might just be bored. When our Doberman was young, she used to think our slippers is her chew toy. 

dog eating grass

Why Is My Dog Eating Grass?

There are several possibilities as to why your furry friend likes eating grass. Some might attribute the grass eating tendencies to their dog feeling unwell and the need to purge while other dogs just simply enjoy the taste.

It might be true that some dogs eat grass whenever they feel unwell. Some studies suggest that dogs eat grass to increase intestinal motility which not only helps them pass stool easier, but the high fiber consumption also purges out parasites and worms along the way (2). In terms of vomiting after eating grass, according to WebMD, only 25% of dogs vomit regularly after grazing.

One might conclude that your dog eating grass is a result of fiber deficiency, but studies show quite the opposite. A study was conducted by feeding dogs a fiber-deficient diet to see if fresh grass intake would increase, but the results showed that the dogs did not eat more grass (3). Eating non-digestible carbohydrates did have diminishing effects on grass eating.

Dogs eating grass may be a trait dating back to when they were still in the wild and not inside our homes where you could safely give them belly rubs. Some dogs might also just enjoy the taste of fresh grass with a hint of that morning dew flavor. It is not uncommon for dogs to enjoy grass, and you are not alone.

Things You Should Know About When Your Dog Eats Grass

Now that you know it is normal for dogs to eat grass, observe your dog’s behavior to find the root of their grass eating tendencies. Your dog could just be bored and want to play. Some dogs like to dig and look for stones while others like to chomp on grass. Getting the right amount of exercise is the key so make sure your beloved canine friend gets his or her daily walk. A proper chew toy might also help them curb their instincts to nibble so getting them a proper chew toy is a must. You can check out our Beefy Bone Chew Toy to keep them occupied and help keep their teeth clean.

If exercise and chew toys still won’t stop the grazing, try a high-fiber diet for your furry friend. Small adjustments here and there will certainly help your dog find the right balance to stop the urge to graze.

The act of grazing or eating grass itself is not harmful, but what might be in the grass can be toxic if ingested. Some lawns might use herbicides and pesticides that can be toxic to dogs so be aware if you’re taking your dog to a new environment. Always be mindful with what you use in your own yard and always read the label before buying your organic pesticides or herbicides. Note that there are common indoor plants along with garden plants that are toxic to dogs if eaten. Be informed when buying or planting new plants when you have puppies or young dogs. If you decide to have plants that are toxic, make sure to plant them in places out of reach.

Conclusion

Dogs eaten grass is not uncommon, and they do it for various reasons. It may be their wild instincts, boredom, discomforts, or they simply just enjoy the taste of grass. One can stop the grazing through exercise, introducing a new chew toy, or dietary adjustments. Eating grass is not dangerous if at home and when you know what you put in your own grass is non-toxic. It is important to always supervise your dog when in a different environment since you won’t know the type of pesticides or herbicides used.

References:

1. Beynen, Anton. (2020). Beynen AC, 2020. Diet and grass eating in dogs. 89-94. 

2. Sueda, Karen & Hart, Benjamin & Cliff, Kelly. (2008). Characterisation of plant eating in dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science - APPL ANIM BEHAV SCI. 111. 120-132. 10.1016/j.applanim.2007.05.018. 

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