Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

by Melissa Keen

If you’re a dog owner, you have likely seen dogs eating grass. You’ve also likely been baffled by this unusual behaviour – are they hungry? Do they have a tummy ache, and are they trying to make themselves vomit? Are they craving something we haven’t provided in their diet? Are they bored? Or do they simply like the taste?

With so many questions surrounding this bizarre activity, we thought we’d take a look at the REAL reason your dog is munching on the green stuff!

Dogs Eating Grass is Common

Firstly, don’t be worried if your dog likes to chow down on grass – you’re not alone. Eating grass has even been observed in wild dogs, so it may be a natural thing. Most vets call it normal canine behaviour.

A small study of 49 dog owners found that a whopping 79% of dogs had eaten plants at some point. So don’t fly into a panic if you see your dog chewing a blade or two – you’re in good company!

Why Do They Do It?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to why dogs eat grass. It’s a common hypothesis that dogs eat grass when they feel unwell in order to make themselves feel sick – but a study showed that most dogs who eat grass don’t vomit afterwards. Less than 25% of dogs who regularly ate grass threw up afterwards.

Other theories include attempting to improve digestion, treating their own intestinal worms, or fulfilling some unmet nutritional requirement. One published study looked at a miniature poodle who ate grass (and then threw it up) every day for 7 years. The pup was put on a high-fibre diet, and it was reported that the dog stopped eating grass almost entirely.

Should I Be Worried?

It’s clear more research needs to be done into the reasons behind a dog’s unusual grazing habits. It could just be that dogs like the feel, smell and taste of grass. Until we know more, keep an eye on your dog and make sure to feed them a well-rounded, veterinary-approved diet.

While grass itself isn’t a toxin for dogs, many other plants are. Check out the Blue Cross website for a comprehensive list of plants to keep away from your pup.

Also be sure not to spray your lawn with chemicals (like weed killer), as this is incredibly poisonous for dogs. Don’t let your dog eat snails or slugs that can live in grass, either, as this can cause lungworm.

Grass seeds can also get in a dog’s eyes and ears and into their paws which can be an issue, particularly in the summer; keep an eye on them and take them to the vet if you see signs of grass seeds causing discomfort on your dog.

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