Why do dogs eat grass?

by Nancy Boland

Eating grass is a common behaviour that baffles many dog owners. In fact, one survey found that grass is the most commonly eaten plant by dogs. But why do dogs eat grass?

No one knows for sure and there’s likely more than one feasible answer.  Different dogs may eat grass for different reasons. But understanding why your dog does can help you address the behaviour.

It tastes good

Dogs are greedy and natural savagers. So why shouldn’t they eat grass? Dogs are programmed to search for nutrition anywhere they can find it. It’s possible that your dog finds the flavour or texture of grass yummy. Or it could be filling a nutritional need that his normal food isn’t, especially fibre. Many dog owners believe this to be the problem and attempt to resolve the issue by increasing their dog’s diet to a high fibre one instead.

grass 2

He’s Bored

In some cases, eating grass is just something to do to pass the time. He’s not being stimulated, or focusing on an activity. Do you notice your dog eating more grass during times when you aren’t walking or playing with them as often? Sometimes the solution can be as simple as providing a chew toy as an alternative or dedicating yourself to some play time or wearing them out with a walk!

Stomach Distress

Some experts believe that grass is a form of self-medication. When your dog has tummy troubles, he turns to grass for relief.  This is more likely if the behaviour starts suddenly or if your dog is very anxious about needing to eat the grass, often extending his neck and making swallowing motions, and then vomiting afterwards.

In some cases, the stomach distress can be a sign of something more serious, like gastric reflux or inflammatory bowel disease, so it’s worth calling your veterinarian for advice if this behaviour continues regularly or you notice it has a pattern. For example, after eating a particular treat or eating certain meal.

It’s nothing to worry about

Many veterinarians consider grass eating“normal” dog behaviour. While dogs don’t gain anything of real nutritional value from grass, it also may not hurt them — as long as there are no dangerous fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides used on the grass itself. You can help protect your grass eater by using only non-toxic products on your own lawn.

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