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Why Dogs Eat Grass — and When To Worry

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
Updated at November 2, 2020
2 min read
Why Dogs Eat Grass — and When To Worry
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Have you ever wondered why some dogs eat grass? Has your dog been eating grass and vomiting? Should you be concerned? It can seem weird to us humans, but it is actually somewhat normal dog behavior called pica.

There is no single agreed-upon answer to why dogs eat grass, but these are the most likely causes:

They Are Bored, Anxious, or Lonely

Boredom, anxiousness, or loneliness may lead a dog to chew and eat on grass as a form of play or stress relief.

Some believe grass eating can be a sort of attention-seeking behavior. If dogs feel lonely or anxious, they may seek attention to make themselves feel better.

They Like The Taste or Texture

Dogs’ eating preferences are quite different from humans’. What we consider weird and gross, dogs may find delicious.

Some dogs also eat grass because they like the texture and how it feels in their mouths when they are chewing it.

They Have Primal Instincts

Unlike what is commonly believed, dogs are not entirely carnivores.

Dogs, like their primal ancestors, eat anything to meet their nutritional requirements. This means eating meat and bones to fruits and vegetables.

Many wild dogs hunt omnivores and eat their stomach contents, which contain grass and other plants. For this reason, dogs probably evolved a preference for grass and plants in general.

They Have Nutritional Deficiencies

Some dogs are drawn to grass because they lack fiber. The grass is indigestible for dogs, but it is a great fiber source needed in a dog’s diet.

Dogs may turn to grass-eating as compensation if their food does not contain enough fiber and other minerals. Similar behavior can be seen in humans due to nutritional deficiencies as well.

Grass, or fiber, also contains pro-biotic nutrients that the good gut bacteria feed on. By assisting these bacteria, dogs, in turn, help their own digestion. Good bacteria can increase food absorption and help protect from harmful bacteria.

Grass-eating can also be caused by dogs missing minerals like phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Which may explain why dogs eat certain kinds of grass.

They Have An Underlying Medical Issue

Some vets hypothesize that the reason dogs eat grass can be to induce vomiting when they feel unwell. However, this is not supported by the evidence. Only 22% of dogs who eat grass vomit, and only 8% of dog owners report their dog showing signs of illness before eating grass. This suggests that the hypothesis is possibly not accurate.

Other more likely medical causes can be parasites or other underlying illnesses. It is a good idea to see your vet if your dog experiences vomiting after eating grass. Especially if other symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, or lack of appetite are present.

Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Grass?

Grass-eating is generally considered safe for most dogs.

That said, parasites are prevalent on the ground and on the grass. For that reason, dogs that eat grass need regular parasite checkups and treatments.

Grass can also contain pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or other chemicals that can be toxic to dogs. Make sure to avoid grass areas that have those.

What To Do If Your Dog Keeps Eating Grass

Grass-eating is not a concern if your dog does it once in a while. If the grass-eating behavior is obsessive, however, you should try any of the following:

  • Check and treat for parasites regularly.

  • Exercise your dog more and give him a chew toy to alleviate boredom and anxiety.

  • Slowly transition your dog to more high quality, high-fiber dog food. In some cases, obsessive grass-eating disappeared shortly after introducing a high-fiber dog food.

  • Divert your dog’s attention towards something else, and reward him. You could use soft dog treats, affection, or anything else your dog likes.

  • Visit your veterinarian if you have any reason to suspect medical issues regarding your dog.

Dogs have some other weird habits besides eating grass. Did you know that a lot of dogs also eat poop?


Tags

PicaDog Behaviors

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