Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Have you ever wondered why your dog eats grass when he's got perfectly good food in his/her bowl? It turns out, it's not a case of contrariness but, instead, a perfectly natural behavior that's been observed in wild dogs, too. 

There's a technical term for eating grass and other things that aren’t food. It’s called pica, and some forms of pica are common in dogs.

You may have heard that dogs eat grass to stimulate vomiting when they have an upset stomach or to address a nutritional deficiency. That might be the case with some dogs, though it's definitely not the majority (nor has it been scientifically proved). Others may do it because they’re bored or because they like the taste or feel of grass. As far as plants go, grass-eating is by far the most common for dogs!


Why Grass?

Medically speaking, we can't know exactly why dogs like to eat grass, though several ideas have been suggested (mentioned above). Luckily, dogs have a digestive system that's built for grass. 

The truth is, dogs are true omnivores and can digest both meat and plant matter. In fact, wild and feral dogs who hunt for their food are known to ingest the intestines and stomach contents of their prey, including plant material. Additionally, wild and feral dogs have been observed eating grass, fruits and berries, and other vegetable matter.

The bottom line? Grass-eating appears to be instinctive for our furry friends.


Can Grass Hurt My Dog? 

Occasionally grass awns (hairy, bristle-like ends that can have spikes and sharp edges) can become lodged in the back of your dog’s throat or between his/her teeth, causing him/her to wretch.  If that happens, check for lodged grass/awns! 

Of course, if the grass in question is chemically treated, then you don't want your pup eating it - a number of pesticides and herbicides can make grass toxic. Additionally, there may be other plants besides grass that you don't want Fido eating - particularly some weeds and ornamental plants. If you need specific information on a plant, the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center has a list of poisonous plants you can use for reference.

Alternatives to Grass

If you're worried that the grass your pup is eating might be unsafe, there are alternatives. If you have the ability, you could plant him/her a small patch of chemical-free grass to enjoy! On the other hand, you could supplement his/her diet with fresh herbs and vegetables. You may need to try a few different veggies to find the one(s) Fido likes best. Some dogs enjoy lettuce, celery, and baby carrots. You can experiment to see which ones your dog will like. These are healthy alternatives to commercial treats too. 

If you're still worried about your dog eating grass, give us a call or schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to talk about options!




Blog Category: