Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Have you ever noticed your dog eating grass? If so, you may be concerned as to whether this is healthy, and wonder why your dog might be doing it. There are a few widely held beliefs about dogs eating grass that can cause some owners to worry. For example, it’s a common misconception that dogs eat grass because they are lacking something in their diet, or that they are doing it because they need to be sick. Fortunately, neither of these are necessarily true, and experts agree that a dog eating grass is not usually a cause for concern. Here are some of the reasons why your dog may decide to supplement their diet with grass.

1. They Like the Taste

Dogs are not truly carnivorous. While it is true that meat makes up a large part of your dog’s diet, they are not true carnivores. Instead, they are considered omnivores, who will eat both meat and plants. Grass is one of the plants that they can gravitate towards as it is very accessible, and many dogs simply find it very tasty!

In fact, for the majority of dogs, the simple fact that they enjoy it is usually the main reason for eating grass. This will be particularly noticeable in the spring when grass is at its most fresh and tasty.

2. To Be Sick

It’s a widely held belief that dogs eat grass to make themselves sick. Eating grass can sometimes cause dogs to vomit, especially if they have gobbled lots down in a short space of time, and may occasionally be a way for dogs to cleanse their digestive system and settle an upset stomach.

However, it’s actually far more common that dogs will not be sick after eating grass, and this is not usually the reason behind the behaviour.

Provided that it only happens now and again, this is nothing to be overly concerned about. However, if your dog is regularly eating grass to be sick, talk to your vet.

3. To Get More Fibre

Another theory is that by eating grass, dogs are trying to introduce some extra fibre into their diet. If you suspect that this is why your dog is eating grass, speak to your vet about their diet. While it’s unlikely that your dog is eating grass as a result of a nutritional deficiency, your vet will be able to confirm this. They might recommend a different dog food, or suggest that you introduce cooked vegetables into their diet.

4. Boredom

Sometimes dogs might eat grass because they are not getting enough mental stimulation elsewhere. Boredom can cause dogs to engage in behaviours like chewing and digging, so it’s important to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and playtime. Interactive toys like snuffle balls, treat mats, and KONGs are all good ways to keep your dog stimulated.

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Is it Safe for My Dog to Eat Grass?

Experts agree that eating grass is safe for dogs, and not generally a cause for concern. However, you should see a vet if you notice any of the following:

  • Your dog repeatedly vomits after eating grass
  • Your dog eats grass but not their food
  • Your dog seems unwell and is eating grass
  • The amount of grass your dog eats has become excessive

The above behaviours can indicate that there is an underlying health problem that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, eating grass in itself is not considered dangerous.

However, there are other risks related to eating grass that you should be aware of. These include:

  • Grass Seeds: Where there is grass, there are often grass seeds too, especially during the summer months. Grass seeds can get lodged in your dog’s skin, ears, eyes and nose causing a lot of discomfort, so watch out for this whenever your dog has a grassy snack.
  • Pesticides: It’s important to make sure that any areas in which your dog eats grass are free from pesticides and chemicals. Ingesting things like weed killer, slug pellets or fertilisers can be very harmful for dogs, and can cause poisoning.
  • Lungworm: Slugs and snails can sometimes be lurking in the grass. Ingestion of slugs and snails can result in lungworm, which can have serious repercussions. Standard worm treatments don’t usually protect against lungworm, so your dog is unlikely to be protected against this disease. If you think your dog might have eaten any slugs or snails, see your vet.

Wrapping Up

Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, but most often, it’s simply because they enjoy the taste! During the spring and summer months when it’s green and fresh, it’s particularly tempting for our furry friends. Generally speaking, eating grass is not a cause for concern, but speak to your vet if you are worried that your dog is eating excessive amounts, they are regularly sick afterwards, or they seem otherwise unwell.

Animed Veterinary Nurse, Beth Walker