If you have a dog, you’ve probably noticed it snacking on grass during your walks. It might seem strange, but eating grass is entirely normal for dogs.
There are a few reasons for this behavior, some of which may surprise you.
So, why do dogs eat grass? Let’s find out.
Dogs and Grass — Reasons and Safety
We’ve covered everything you need to know about the grass-eating habit in dogs. You’ll find out why dogs eat grass, how safe it is, and when to consult your vet. So, let’s start.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
While none of the reasons are too serious, you should pay attention to your dog’s behavior to determine the definite cause. Here are some possibilities:
Dogs with acid reflux problems or indigestion have been found to eat grass to calm their stomachs, so it might be an instinct inherited from wolves. Grass has some calming properties and a lot of fiber, so it can be beneficial in this situation.
After eating grass, they might vomit yellow bile. But, unless this happens regularly, it’s not a cause for worry.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
This condition that includes your dog eating unusual items, such as grass, is called pica. Pica can be caused by the lack of vitamins and minerals in their food and is more common than you would think. Besides grass, your dog might also eat dirt in search of nutrients.
In this case, finding dog food high in vitamins and minerals is an excellent place to start and see if anything changes.
If your dog has any internal parasites, it might eat grass to try getting rid of them. But unfortunately, this can actually make things worse, as dogs can ingest more parasites while eating grass.
Boredom and Taste
A study has found that 98% of dogs eat grass at least occasionally. Of those tested, only 22% vomited after eating it. This means that stomach issues are not the only reason for snacking on grass and that vomiting is not the end goal.
Some dogs just like the taste, and some eat it because they’re bored.
If your dog doesn’t like to be left alone or has any other anxiety issues, they are likely to start eating grass. This behavior can be compared to humans biting their nails.
What Happens to Your Dog When They Eat Grass?
Grass itself is typically not dangerous for your dog. But, there are things you should be aware of:
- By eating grass, dogs can pick up parasites from the ground or from other dogs’ feces and get sick. This is especially dangerous if you have a puppy.
- Pesticides and herbicides from some lawns can be extremely dangerous, and the dog can ingest them.
- In parks and many other public areas, they can ingest something toxic.
- Some dogs don’t have control over their obsessive behavior and keep eating grass until it makes them sick (assuming they didn’t have digestive issues before eating it).
When Should You Worry?
Although there is usually nothing to worry about, some cases are a cause for concern. So, take your dog to the vet if:
- Grass eating is followed by symptoms such as weight loss, excessive vomiting, drooling, and refusing to eat their regular food. Also, excessive grass eating can be a symptom of gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or even gastric cancer.
- Your dog eats grass obsessively and for long periods, as this can be a symptom of anxiety and OCD.
- They have diarrhea after eating grass, as it can be a symptom of parasites.
Although this check-up can cost you around $45–$55, knowing that your dog is completely safe can put your mind at ease.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Grass — Useful Tips
Considering the dangers we listed, not letting your dog snack on the grass that might be contaminated in any way is your safest bet. Here are some tips to help you prevent your dog from eating grass.
Teach them basic commands such as “drop it” or “no” with positive reinforcement. Once they learn the command, use it when they try to eat grass, and make sure to praise them after they listen to you.
Give Them Something Else to Eat
Providing them with chew toys and treats to munch on is a great solution. For example, an excellent substitute for a dog eating grass is cucumber. Still, there are many other vegetables and fruit that are safe for them.
Try Introducing More Fiber Into Their Diet
If your dog has digestion problems, which can be one of the reasons for eating grass, this might be the solution. Food full of fiber or treats that can improve digestion can help your dog.
Keep Them Entertained
Walking your dog more often and playing with them can prevent them from eating grass out of boredom.
Also, If you’ve noticed signs of your dog eating grass while you’re away, consider hiring a dog walker when you know you’ll be gone for more than a few hours. Otherwise, getting a few extra toys or tiring them out before you leave is always a good idea.
Does a dog eating grass mean anything?
It can mean many things, though it depends on your dog. For example, they may need more fiber in their diet or just be bored. You must keep an eye on them, and if it’s out of the ordinary that your dog is eating grass, you may want to take it to the vet for a checkup.
What should I do if my dog eats grass?
If it happens rarely, there is no need to do anything.
However, if they do it often, the best thing you can do is train them to stop. Also, if they’re exhibiting symptoms of being sick, take them to a vet for a checkout.
Do dogs eat grass to settle their stomach?
Settling their stomach is just one potential cause for grass eating. However, research has shown that of the dogs tested, less than 25% actually vomited after eating grass. So, vomiting itself doesn’t seem to be the reason.
Other causes could be anxiety, vitamin and mineral deficiency, parasites, or simply the taste of grass.
Eating grass is normal to dogs, and they do it for various reasons. Usually, there is no need to do anything about it.
However, you should still keep an eye on your dog, and if you notice any changes in their behavior, check if something else is also off.