Dogs eating grass or any type of flora is a common occurrence and it will have been seen by most dog owners several times during a dog’s lifetime. If you find your own dog eating grass and you start to panic then don’t – there are many causes which could be making them want to do it and there are many steps to prevent and treat those causes. Seeing your dog eating grass is not a signal that you’re dog’s unhealthy – but it is important to learn about this particular behaviour.
Pica is the technical term for an eating disorder when eating something inedible to that species – in this case grass for dogs. This can be seen in many species like us humans – have you ever seen a person (usually children) eat materials such as crayons, chalk, metal and drywall? Chances are they have Pica. Obviously, cows do not have Pica when they eat grass is in their natural diet but dogs eating grass may have pica. Pica is a symptom which causes dogs to eat grass but not the underlying cause – this article will help you understand why your dog is eating grass and how to stop it.
My Dog Is Eating Grass
OK – your dog is eating Poaceae/Gramineae commonly known as grass – and they know to do it because of inherent learned behaviour by their ancestors, they’re doing it because they have a reason to do it – they can’t speak so you’re going to have to figure this one out for yourself!
First of all, are they chewing and spitting it out or are they ingesting grass? This can help determine from the below what the root cause could be. If they chew they might be bored, if they swallow there might be a digestive issue. Let’s take a look at some common reasons.
Your Dog Is Sick
Eating grass could mean that your dog is wanting to be sick to throw up what’s actually making them sick. Eating and swallowing grass can lead to vomiting. There are many people that dispute this theory as 8% of grass munching pooches showed signs of sickness prior to the grass eating and 22% threw up after eating the plant. However, what’s important to note here is that the dogs were not able to comment on this theory themselves. Have a think in the 24 hours leading to this behaviour – had they eaten something they shouldn’t or had they eating something that had gone off like fruit?
Typically, the result of vomiting might be white foam. This is usually bile.
Also try to think if your dog has been nauseated recently and they are trying to force themselves better. Some people believe dogs just aren’t smart enough to make the connection between eating grass and vomiting but I myself dispute that – dogs eating grass has been around almost as long as dogs have and it’s no coincidence it’s a behaviour that’s still around after all this time.
Grass has very little to no nutritional value on its own. Even for strict herbivores. It’s unlikely your dog is doing it for this reason. However, does your dog know it has no nutritional value? Who knows. Many people may think that dogs eat grass as a form of roughage but this is unlikely. If you believe your dog is trying to get a bit more fibre in their diet then it might be worth reviewing their food.
There was a study of a Miniature Poodle who ate grass for seven years. When put on a high fibre diet he suddenly stopped. Coincidence? You can make your own mind up.
This could be the most obvious reason. If your dog is eating and swallowing grass they well just be absolutely starving. Try feeding them! If they eat grass because they’re hungry you might find that they will throw up white foam and still be hungry afterwards.
Some people think your furry friend is trying to improve their internal digestive system. Perhaps they are trying to ‘move things along’ or even get rid of some parasites they have down there. However, this study was on wild Chimpanzees so take from that what you will. This study didn’t exactly look at the same species or even the same type of grass but there may be some truth in it.
Is your dog bored? Do you give your dog loads of attention when they eat grass that they wouldn’t get if they didn’t? Maybe you dog is eating grass frantically as a way to get your attention, be it good or bad. Alternative if they don’t have food available all the time and no toys around then perhaps there really is nothing better to do at that time than to chew on the green stuff frantically.
Chances are, if they’re bored they might now be swallowing.
They like the way it tastes
Another possible cause if your canine is chewing the lawn rather than swallowing it is because they just like the way it tastes. How likely is this? We’ll never know until we manage to get dogs speaking our languages. Does your dog look like he’s actually enjoying it? Maybe they are just enjoying the taste. Doing something you like releases dopamine in the brain and this why people and animals do this behaviour from time to time.
Perhaps when you see your dog enjoying eating the grass you can train them to stop and give them a proper treat instead. Mind you, this may make them go back to grass as they know a treat is about to follow!
Chewing anything makes your mouth produce saliva. Saliva is a vital part of keeping any organism’s mouth healthy. When your hound is chewing grass they will produce saliva in doing it – if your dog isn’t swallowing the grass they may be doing it to create the saliva to clean their mouth.
If you suspect this as a reason why your mutt is doing it give their mouth a check to make sure everything is as it should be. Also, they may have chosen grass to do this as there simply wasn’t anything else suitable to chew on. Do you have plenty of toys for him or her to wrap their gnashers around?
It’s just normal behaviour
This is my personal favourite reason. Your dog may be eating grass because it’s just normal animal behaviour. Unless your dog eating grass frantically is worrying you I would put it down to this one. Of course I wouldn’t sit there and let your dog eating loads of it because grass can be doused with pesticides and herbicides but I certainly wouldn’t worry if they are doing it occasionally.
How Top Stop Your Dog Eating Grass
If the question is “Should I let my dog eat grass?” then the answer is “no”. There’s no good reason to eat grass but there’s plenty of potential bad reasons, grass may have infectious materials in there which could be toxic or have fecal matter which could lead to worms. If you’ve read the reasons and possibly causes for dogs eating grass then tips to stop that behaviour can be simple
- Give your dog a balanced diet with plenty of fibre
- Make sure your dog isn’t bored and has plenty of exercise and toys
- Check your dog’s oral hygiene
- Check to see they haven’t eaten anything toxic, poisonous or contaminated
- Reward them when they stop doing it
- Give them a meal!
Did your dog eat grass and you’ve found out why? Why not help the community and let everyone know what happened in the comments section.
Ronnie is the JugDog site editor and a dog expert who has lived and worked with dogs his entire life. Living in St. Helens, UK with his wife son and Jug Dog Jeff Ronnie spends most of time researching the answers to the burning questions of the dog community as well as reviewing the latest and greatest dog products.