When you are out walking and your dog stops to enjoy the taste of the local vegetation, it can cause you to wonder how safe it might be for them. Here, our vets in Wake Forest provide an answer to 'Why do dogs eat grass?' and share some pros and cons of this behavior.

Why do dogs eat grass?

You're out on your evening stroll with your canine companion and everything is going as usual when they suddenly stop and start chowing down on some grass. This can lead to many questions about why your dog is eating grass and if your dog might be poisoned after eating it.

The good news is that vomiting after grass-eating doesn't happen all that often. The majority of dogs eat grass without showing any signs or symptoms of stomach upset. So it seems unlikely that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Then why do they do it?

Physical Reasons Why My Dog Eats Grass

Some vets consider nutritional deficiencies to be a leading cause behind dogs that enjoy eating grass. Grass can also be an excellent source of fiber for your canine companion. Eating grass may be an easy way for your dog to add roughage to their diet, helping to keep things moving through their digestive tract.

while it is less common, gastrointestinal issues can occasionally cause a dog to spend some time chewing on grass. Dogs can suffer from several stomach and gastrointestinal issues including conditions such as pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass and has other symptoms such as lack of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's a good idea to take your pup to the vet for an examination.

Psychological Reasons Why My Dog Eats Grass

You may find that there is nothing physically wrong with your dog and they are just plain bored. If you catch your dog chomping away in your yard but they aren't showing any signs or symptoms of health issues, they may just be looking for something to do. 

You could try bringing your pup out for longer walks or more interactive playtime to help curb this grass-eating behavior.

Separation anxiety could also be the reason that your dog is eating grass. Try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog when you leave the house. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb their grass-eating habit. 

Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your pooch reduce obsessive behaviors.

Pros and Cons of Your Dog's Grass-Eating Habit

  • Grass eating may be pleasant.
  • Adds fiber to your dog's diet.
  • Acts as roughage, improving digestion.
  • Might cause vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Grass can be covered in pesticides.
  • Parasites can live in the grass.

What can I do to stop my dog from eating grass?

If your vet determines that your dog is healthy and showing no signs of illness then you may want to try these tips for stimulating your pup:

  • For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, try leaving an old t-shirt (unwashed) or blanket with your dog while you're away from home. Having something close by that smells of you may help to reassure your pup.
  • If your dog is bored, it's time to add some extra mental stimulation to their day. Try occupying your dog with a puzzle toy to help provide extra mental stimulation.
  • High-energy dogs will likely benefit from longer, more frequent, and more vigorous walks, combined with some strenuous play sessions to help settle their restless mind and body.
  • Dogs that enjoy socializing with other dogs may need extra socializing time. Perhaps taking your dog to a doggie daycare or on visits to the local dog park will help to stop your dog from eating grass.

Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?

If your dog has no health concerns and is up to date on preventive care then feel free to let them eat grass to their heart's content.

To help keep your grass-nibbling pooch healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers on the grass your dog enjoys.

Signs That Grass Eating is an Emergency

While dogs eating grass doesn't raise any red flags under normal circumstances. There may be situations that point to an urgent medical issue.

If you notice signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite or lethargy, you should bring your dog to the vet for emergency care right away.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is eating grass while showing signs of illness, please contact our vets in Wake Forest to schedule an examination.