Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
We've all been there. We take a gander across the yard at our dog and she's mindfully grazing on grass like a cow. Sometimes we're on a walk when our pooch stops by our neighbor's front lawn and leans in to munch on a blade. What's up with dogs eating grass anyway?
Dr. Shadi Ireifej, the chief veterinary officer at Vettriage, a 24/7 tele-vet service, says vets get this question daily. "Pet owners are naturally curious as to why dogs eat grass," he says, especially when you have premium dog food and a canister filled with yummy treats back inside.
The truth is there are likely a variety of reasons why vets think your pup eats grass. Some are grazing connoisseurs, finding the blades that best suit their tastebuds simply because, well, they can. Others only do it occasionally, maybe only when they have an upset stomach. Still more just like the taste and do it instinctively looking for roughage or fiber, perhaps.
Interestingly, the behavior seems to be unique to dogs as our companion cats rarely eat grass, notes Dr. Ireifej. Here's the lowdown on grass-eating dogs.
Dogs May Eat Grass Because They're Sick
"Dogs typically eat grass during times of illness," says Dr. Ireifej. Once they eat grass and vomit, owners think, of course, they're vomiting. The grass made them sick! But they most likely had an upset stomach, and this is their way of inducing vomiting to help them feel better faster.
Eating grass speeds up the digestion process and aids in vomiting. It not only helps remove the cause of any gastrointestinal disease but those long, thin blades also tickle a dog's throat to help him vomit. It's pretty ingenious when you think about it. It's like canine self-help.
Dogs May Eat Grass Due to Dietary Deficiencies
Despite your dog eating a well-balanced canine diet, he may be deficient in fiber and looking for roughage by adding a plant, like grass, to his food source. If you suspect this could be the reason, you can try adding some vegetables like canned pumpkin or carrots to his diet to see if it cuts down on his lawn mowing habit.
Dogs May Eat Grass Just Because It's Fun
"We have to acknowledge that some dogs simply enjoy it or are just curious or bored," says Dr. Ireifej. Eating grass is an activity—the same as running around the yard, chasing a squirrel, or playing with you.
For some dogs, there may not be any medical condition that causes them to eat grass. It's just their personality. But you may want to try discouraging the behavior, especially when you don't know if the grass has been treated with fertilizers or pesticides that can make your dog sick.
If your dog is a chronic grass grazer, you may want to discuss it with your veterinarian at your next visit. But if your dog is otherwise healthy and only exhibits this habit occasionally, it's typically not anything to worry about. And hey, it cuts down on the lawn work.