Many of us have wondered, “why is my dog eating grass?” This behavior can raise so many questions. Are they hungry? Maybe bored? Or sick? Will it hurt them?
We are all aware of donkeys and horses eating grass, but a dog eating grass may surprise many of us.
First of all, you are not the only one asking these questions, especially if your dog has eaten grass and is vomiting.
Technically, the disorder of eating things that don’t classify as food is characterized as “pica.”
This may indicate that your dog is suffering from some kind of nutritional deficiency, or it can also simply be boredom, specifically in the case of younger dogs or puppies.
It is quite typical for dogs to eat grass, and this type of pica rarely results in any major issues. Reportedly, even wild dogs do this.
The majority of veterinarians see it as typical dog behavior. 79% of the dogs in a small-scale study of 49 dog owners whose canines regularly had access to grass and other plants ate plants at some point.
The grass was identified as the most frequently consumed plant in another study on canines that consume plants.
So, why do dogs eat grass?
There are multiple reasons why your dog could be eating grass and we have discussed them briefly above but now we will look at them in detail.
1. Fulfills fiber needs
Dogs consume grass for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it provides a source of roughage and dietary fiber.
The grass may be assisting the dog’s physical functions because a lack of dietary fiber impairs their capacity to digest food and pass a bowel motion.
If you suspect your dog is eating grass for nutritional reasons, you should visit a veterinarian to see if there are any nutritional deficiencies, and how to best address them for your dog’s general health.
2. Diet deficiencies
As we discussed above, some dog owners and vets believe that chewing grass is a sort of pica, or consuming unusual nonfood objects, which is occasionally brought on by a nutritional deficiency.
Many nutritional deficiencies are caused by vitamins, nutrients, or minerals that aren’t consumed regularly.
If you consistently find your dog eating grass, think about consulting your veterinarian about moving to a different kind of dog food.
This shouldn’t be a problem for dogs who eat a well-balanced diet.
3. Instinctual reaction
Your dog’s predecessors did not eat kibble that was contained in bags.
In the wild, dogs maintained a balanced diet by consuming their prey in its whole, including the meat, bones, internal organs, and stomach contents.
Eating the entire prey animal resulted in a meal that was well-balanced, since the stomach of the prey contained plants and grass that satisfied the dog’s requirement for fiber.
If a dog consumes a balanced diet, eating grass might not even be indicative of a deficiency, but rather of instinct.
Dogs’ digestive systems, dietary needs, and appetites have been altered to reflect their domesticated lifestyle.
Although eating an entire animal provided the best nutrition for dogs in the wild, especially if the animal’s diet included a variety of plants, the grass was not their main source of nutrients.
They may have a genetic predisposition to crave grass from a time when they hunted their prey.
Modern dogs do not need to hunt for food, but this does not mean that they have lost their innate need to scavenge.
Some dogs, even those who adore their commercial dog food, may eat grass as a reminder of their origin and the necessity to be scavengers.
It’s possible that the behavior problem with these dogs eating grass isn’t a problem at all.
Once your dog receives regular parasite prevention and occasional grazing sessions do not make them ill, then you should have no concern.
In reality, behavior modification may be more harmful than beneficial and at odds with their natural tendencies.
4. They’re bored!
You could be lucky to have a closed backyard where it can be easy to let your dog run free.
However, most dogs would rather be with you. If they’re just hanging out in the yard alone eating grass, they can simply be bored.
Combining positive reinforcement training, an exercise regimen, and quality time spent outside with your dog throwing a ball could help you stop the behavior.
Of course, your dog might just simply love the flavor and feel of moist, fragrant grass in their mouth, particularly in the spring when new grass is just beginning to emerge, or when your dog is dehydrated.
Always leave a bowl of clean, ice-cold water outside for your dog to drink.
Should I let my dog eat grass?
While the grass alone may not be harmful to your dog, the herbicides and pesticides applied to the grass may be.
The grass may also be contaminated with intestinal parasites like hookworms or roundworms from other dogs’ faeces when your dog picks it up from the ground.
Therefore, grass is hardly the best treat for your dog, whatever the purpose. So how do you put an end to the grazing?
- Give your dog smaller, more frequent meals, especially in the morning.
- If at all possible, try to prevent your dog from consuming grass, especially grass that is not on your property. Even though chewing on the grass is a normal habit among dogs, you can teach your dog not to do it to help you relax. Teach your dog to “leave it” and “go outside” until you’re certain the habit has been broken.
- To teach your dog that specific areas are off-limits, consider using various objects or a deterrent spray
- Inquire about the best digestive aids such as this one or balanced, nutritional foods for your dog’s age, breed, and level of exercise from your vet or a veterinarian nutritionist.
- Chew toys could also aid you, get one for your dog and they may not turn to eat grass out of boredom.
If you’re looking for some chew toys to select from check this article for more information.
So, why is my dog eating grass?
Chances are, your dog’s reason for eating grass is quite harmless, and might even be helpful if they have an upset stomach.
Your dog eating grass isn’t a problem, so you shouldn’t be worried, but it is not a healthy habit for your dog to continue over time.
So, even if it is not a sign of a bigger problem, try to take notice and try to eliminate any health or behavior concerns regarding your dog.