Why Is My Dog Eating Grass? The Surprising Answers
by Jessi Larson
Plenty of dog owners see their pup chowing down on grass and naturally wonder, “Why is my dog eating grass?”
It’s a fairly straightforward question, but the answer is a bit less clear.
While most dog owners report this behavior, there are a variety of reasons why your pup is eating grass, and they can range from benign to concerning.
So if you’re wondering why your dog has a hobby of eating grass or other plants, here are some reasons that may be behind this behavior.
Canines Have Historically Eaten Grass
For the most part, eating grass is a perfectly natural behavior for a dog. They did this even before they were domesticated hundreds of years ago.
In fact, a wild dog’s natural diet was that of an omnivore, and grass or other greenery would have provided a good source of fiber and nutrients.
Most veterinarians see the occasional grazing on grass as normal dog behavior.
Dogs Like the Taste of Grass
We also cannot rule out a direct and simple explanation for dogs eating grass: They like the way it tastes.
This may explain why even dogs on a well-rounded diet without any nutritional deficiencies still indulge in the occasional nibble on grass.
While many dog owners cannot fathom this being the case, keep in mind that your pup’s palate is undeniably different from yours.
Remember their predilection for chewing dirty shoes? Grass may actually be on the normal side of their taste spectrum.
They Lack Fiber or Other Nutrients
As we mentioned, grass and plants can be an excellent source of fiber for a dog and could aid in digestion. However, your dog shouldn’t rely on grass for this important part of theie nutrition.
Since about 25% of dogs end up throwing up after eating grass, it may not be a desirable behavior to continue if your dog falls within that category.
The best thing to do is supplement your dog’s diet with plant-based foods that provide an ample amount of fiber without upsetting your dog’s stomach.
Again, your dog may still occasionally indulge in some grass, but you won’t have to worry about nutritional deficiencies.
Some Dogs Eat Grass Out of Boredom
If your dog has a tendency to start eating grass when there’s no other mental stimulation, it may be out of boredom.
While ingesting a little bit of grass may not harm your dog, you’ll want to stop this behavior and redirect your dog’s attention. If you don’t, your dog could develop an issue where they compulsively eat grass and then throw it up, which is obviously not good for their health.
To work on this behavior, just offer your dog a toy or play a fun game of fetch instead. Working out any excess energy will help curb grass eating out of boredom alone.
Should You Worry About Your Dog’s Grass Eating?
Although eating a bit of grass can be natural to most dogs, there are situations when this behavior could point to an underlying issue or lead to illness in your dog.
Here are some important things to consider when it comes to your dog eating grass:
Is Your Dog’s Behavior a Sign of Pica?
For some dogs consuming grass can be a sign of pica – a condition during which your dog eats non-foods.
If your dog is exhibiting compulsive grass eating or consuming non-food items such as rocks, dirt or toys, they may be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Or they could be experiencing emotional issues.
If you suspect your dog may suffer from pica, visit a veterinary clinic to evaluate the issue and diagnose any problems.
When Eating Grass Could Mean an Underlying Illness
Some people believe that dogs naturally seek out and eat grass when they don’t feel well to make themselves feel better by throwing up – but this idea is highly disputed.
Since about 25% of dogs throw up after eating grass, it’s difficult to say whether a dog is eating grass to throw up or if eating grass is behind the vomiting.
Since most dogs do not seem ill when they approach grass, you shouldn’t assume that something is wrong with your dog for wanting to eat it.
However, if you’ve noticed a sudden increase in your dog’s grass eating this could signal an underlying physical condition. If this is the case, have your dog examined by the vet to rule out any possible illness.
When Eating Grass Can Cause Your Dog Serious Illness
As we already mentioned, about 25% of all dogs that consume grass end up throwing it up.
This alone isn’t a cause for concern. The problem, however, is that while grass may be completely natural for your dog to consume, many outdoor areas may be treated with chemical pesticides that are extremely toxic for your dog’s health.
If your pup really enjoys a good helping of grass, think about setting up a dedicated tray inside of your house or yard to grow safe-to-eat greenery for just for your four-legged friend.
Final Thoughts: Why Is My Dog Eating Grass?
We hope this helps you understand the answer to dog owners’ age old question of “Why is my dog eating grass?”
Though it may seem odd to us humans, eating grass is usually a normal behavior for your dog.
Whether it’s an inherent, genetic need or simply a liking for the taste, our pups share their preference for grass universally. This is why most of the time eating grass is perfectly safe and normal for your dog.
On the other hand, for some dogs, eating grass can be a symptom of an underlying issue such as an illness or a nutritional or psychological imbalance.
If you suspect your dog’s grass eating may point to a more serious issue, have them evaluated by a vet to diagnose any health problems and set a plan for recovery.
Lastly, be aware of the chemical toxins used to treat many outdoor spaces and consider supplementing your dog’s diet with a clean, designated patch of grass or other fibrous vegetables.
How to Find the Right Veterinarian to Care for Your Dog
As you can see above, it’s important that you have a veterinarian you know and trust.
When you have a trusted vet who knows your dog’s overall health and history, it’s much easier to figure out what’s causing their current ailment.
In this case, you could quickly schedule an appointment or even email or call with the question of why is my dog eating grass?
To find that dependable doctor, follow these steps.
1. Look Locally
First things first: Find a vet that is near you. If heaven forbid something happens to your dog and it’s even remotely urgent, you’ll want to be able to get to the clinic in a short period of time.
This is also important if you have to take time off work for vet appointments. It’s tough enough to get away from work but even tougher when you factor in extra drive time.
For the most part, vet visits are usually planned. You know when your dog’s due for an exam or need vaccinations.
But as we’ve learned throughout the years, things come up. Your dog ate something funky and doesn’t seem like himself. You spot a weird growth and can’t stop worrying. Your dog has a cut on his face that needs a few stitches.
Or in this case, you need to know why is my dog eating grass.
If your vet is closer, that makes things much easier.
2. Read Online Reviews
This is probably an obvious statement, but reading online reviews is incredibly important as a consumer.
And now there are more sites than ever with reviews – Google, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.
Search around and see what people are saying about each clinic you’re looking at.
3. Ask for Recommendations
Another useful tip is to ask around. Where do your neighbors take their dogs? How about friends, family and co-workers in the area?
If your dog is taking training lessons or going to doggy daycare, get the opinion of people at these organizations, too.
This is a great method because you’ll get honest, qualitative feedback that can help make your decision.
4. Do a Test Run
Once you find a vet clinic that seems like a good fit, make an appointment for your dog to be seen.
In this initial appointment, the vet will conduct an assessment of your dog’s health. But really, you’ll also be working on an assessment of your own.
Things to consider as you figure out if this is the right place for you and your dog:
- Facilities – The first thing is to take inventory of the clinic. Is it clean and comfortable?
- Veterinarian – Most importantly, what do you think of the vet? Did they explain things clearly? How was their bedside manner? How did your dog respond to them?
- Support staff – It’s not just the vet you have to consider. You’ll actually be spending just as much time with the support staff, which includes the vet technicians, front office team members and so forth.
- Service – How was the level of service? Is the staff pleasant? Was it easy to make an appointment? How is the communication?
5. Trust Your Gut
As always, trust your gut reaction. It’s more important than people realize.
If you had a good first impression of the clinic and the team and your dog responded well, by all means proceed.
If something felt off and the experience wasn’t what you had hoped for, don’t be afraid to look for other options.
Bonus Tip: Find an Emergency Pet Hospital
While you’re looking for a standard vet clinic, it’s smart to also identify emergency pet hospitals in the area.
This is a place to go if your dog needs care urgently and you can’t wait for the next available appointment at your regular vet.
If your dog has a serious issue come up outside of the normal office hours or on the weekend – and it will happen – this is the place to go.