Most dog owners at one point, maybe several points, witness their dogs eating grass. Before panic ensues, know that the world won’t end with your pet munching on a few blades of grass. If you think about it, we humans eat stranger things. So, why does watching a dog eat grass freak out their owners? It’s most likely they don’t understand the reasons behind this behavior, which is why we’re here to explain how come dogs eat grass and what you can do about it.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Although a dog eating grass is a common behavior, like most other canine issues, this one isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of situation. Because each dog is unique, there could be any number of reasons your pet craves grass.
5 reasons your dog eats grass
- Nutrition: One common belief is dogs eat grass to replace missing nutrients, like fiber, in their diet. If you are concerned that your dog lacks proper nutrition, a vet consult is in order.
- To induce vomiting: Some theories suggest that when dogs eat grass and vomit bile, it’s because they don’t feel well. They eat grass to make themselves vomit and, in turn, feel better; while others claim dogs aren’t intelligent enough to know that eating grass is the way to treat an upset stomach.
- Cravings: The debate about whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores may provide some insight as to why dogs instinctively may prefer to munch on some grass on occasion.
- Behavioral: The reason dogs eat grass could be psychological. Whether it be stress, anxiety, or boredom, your pet may find some relief in eating a few blades of grass. On the other hand, your pet may be consuming grass to get your attention. As the saying goes, “any attention is good attention.” It could be that your pet suffers from pica. This condition causes humans and animals to consume things that aren’t food. For example, socks, small toys, stuffing (from toys), wood, and some argue even grass.
- Hunger: A study from the University of New England suggests hunger in general and the time of day could determine why a dog eats grass. The research found that dogs presented with two types of grass spent more time eating grass before ingesting their kibble. The later in the day, the less the dogs ate the grass.
Is Eating Grass Dangerous For Dogs?
In general, no, the grass isn’t inherently dangerous for dogs to eat. However, if your pet vomits repeatedly, has diarrhea, or drinks water excessively after eating grass, it could indicate a serious health problem caused by such things as intestinal parasites from animal droppings in your yard. Of course, any grass treated with pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and the like is never safe for your pet to consume. Although untreated grass is okay for your pet to eat, several common plants are toxic to dogs.
If your dog’s grass-eating behavior is a concern, talk to your veterinarian.
What To Do When Your Dog Eats Grass
The reason(s) behind your dog’s grass-eating habit will determine the best approach to addressing the behavior. To help you uncover why your dog eats grass, monitor your dog when outside and note the time of day, how much and how often your dog eats grass, and what happens before and after (if anything).
If your dog eats grass out of boredom …
- If your pet is eating grass out of boredom, employ distraction techniques. You can offer a verbal correction and give a treat when your pet nibbles grass while on a walk, or direct them to head in another direction. Whenever your pet is eating grass in your yard, distract your dog with a game of Frisbee or ball to see if that keeps their mind off grazing. Also, ensure your dog gets an adequate amount of daily physical exercise and mental stimulation.
If your dog eats grass because of nutritional deficiencies …
- Providing your pet the proper nutrition for their breed, size, stage in life, and state of health can help reduce grass-eating due to nutritional deficiencies. Consider adding a multi-vitamin supplement to your dog’s diet.
If your dog eats grass to get attention …
- What about eating grass for attention? Never scold your pet for nibbling on the lawn, as this could increase any existing anxiety and stress in your pet. Instead, make certain that whatever time you spend with your dog is quality time with plenty of playtime and belly rubs. Make sure you have veterinarian-approved chew toys within reach, as well.
- For those attention-seeking dogs that eat grass, ignore the behavior and use positive reinforcement, like praise or treats, when they stop eating the grass and whenever they do something you want them to.
If your dog still eats grass …
- If your dog is a known grass eater, avoid using any type of lawn treatment, or use a natural product safe for pets.
- Anytime you suspect an underlying health issue or that your pet has ingested something poisonous, you should consult your veterinarian (or emergency vet hospital) for proper diagnosis and treatment. Provide your veterinarian with notes on your pet’s grass-eating behavior and your dog’s dietary habits, including the brand of food, how much and how often your dog eats.
Let’s face it, dogs do strange things (they probably think the same of us!). Eating grass and even their own poop are two of them. Noting these behaviors and consulting with your vet can help address them.