Have you ever seen your dog eat grass? Did you ever wonder why? This lesson explains the many reasons why this may occur and if you have anything to worry about.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Surely you’ve seen the horror before. Your beloved Fido transformed into a goat in an instant. You didn’t buy a goat, but now you have one! How could a dog, that would sell you and your home for a piece of cheap steak, all of sudden be munching on cow food and sheep snacks? There are many reasons why dogs eat grass. Let’s explore them.
Is it Normal for Dogs to Eat Grass?
Grass eating is not limited to dogs. Their close kin, wolves, eat grass as well. This implies that grass eating behavior was likely inherited from dogs’ wild ancestors and is likely an innate behavior. This means dogs are probably born with a tendency to eat grass; they don’t learn it from other dogs as they grow. This is further supported by the fact that younger dogs tend to eat plants more frequently than older dogs.Based on what you see at a local dog park, you might not be surprised to learn that the vast majority (around 80%) of dogs eat plants.
More than two thirds of dogs will eat some sort of plant on a daily or weekly basis and the most frequently eaten plant is, big surprise here, grass. Only a small fraction (about 10 %) of dogs who eat plants are reported to appear ill before they do so and only about 20% of dogs vomit after eating a plant.What does this mean? It means that grass eating is a normal behavior in dogs.
Eating grass rarely implies dogs are sick and rarely causes any significant problems. Dogs may just eat grass because they like it!
Other Causes of Grass Eating
In addition to simply liking the taste or texture of grass, there are other reasons, both non-medical and medical, why dogs may eat grass.One reason may be pure boredom. Just like boredom can cause people to munch on snacks, dogs might do the same with grass. But dogs don’t have to be bored to eat grass. If your dog is playing fetch and all of a sudden stops to eat grass, it may be a sign that your dog simply wants to take a break.
Another explanation, particular to working dogs, may be that driven dogs will choose to eat grass if they are unable to perform the task they are usually charged with, just so they are at least doing something.Medically, dogs may eat grass because of dietary deficiencies, gastrointestinal (digestive) tract disorders, and other conditions. This is why it’s important to talk to your veterinarian to ensure none of these conditions are present.
Sometimes, dogs may eat grass to help them pass stool or to vomit something up.Speaking of vomiting, dogs may vomit as a result of eating grass or due to something else. It’s a classic case of correlation not implying causation. If you see your dog eating grass and then vomiting soon thereafter, the vomiting may have nothing to do with the grass. Dogs may eat grass because they are sick and nauseous due to a medical condition. They then vomit because of that disease and not because of the grass. This is why it’s important to get your dog checked out by a veterinarian if you suspect they don’t feel well or they constantly vomit soon after eating grass.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Grass
It bears repeating that if your veterinarian has found absolutely no medical issue(s) with your dog, then your dog is likely eating the grass for no other reason other than it likes it. In this instance, just make sure the grass has not been chemically treated, as those chemicals may hurt your pet (especially in the long run). Also, ensure the plants dogs eat are not toxic.
If it bothers you that your dog always throws up after munching on grass, and no medical issues have been found, talk to your dog’s veterinarian about using a basket muzzle to opt-out of the regular lawn care your dog provides free of charge.
Grass eating is a normal behavior in dogs. In most cases, it does not imply a medical condition nor will it cause one. Exceptions are possible of course.
This is why you should have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to ensure no medical problems are present. Reasons for grass eating in dogs include:
- Medical problems, such as dietary deficiencies and digestive disorders
- Liking the taste or texture
- Taking a break from another activity
- Needing to do something, anything, even if not bored
- To help in the passage of stool
- To help vomit something up