Why do dogs eat grass?

Why do dogs eat grass?

Jul 27 , 2021

Katherine Medina

Have you noticed your dog eating grass? Our dogs do a million wacky things that we don’t understand. From digging holes to chewing on stumps, dogs are always doing something weird that we just sometimes can’t understand. One of the questions that dog owners often ask themselves is: why do dogs eat grass?

You must be thinking “Aren’t dogs carnivores? Don’t they only eat meat? Is my dog hungry?” Don’t worry… all pet owners have asked themselves this question. Actually, this is one of the top questions that worry pet parents the most!

According to WebMD, 79% of dogs eat grass they have regular access to. Researchers have even observed wild wolves practice the same behavior to treat their upset stomachs! 

Grass-eating behavior is very common and harmless to your dogs as long as you are cautious of certain herbicides, chemicals, or pesticides sprayed that have been used to treat your yard.

Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons. Some reasons why dogs eat grass can be:

  • Boredom: You can find a bored dog eating grass just to pass time
  • Digestion: Dogs nibble grass to improve their digestion system, reduce stomach discomfort, or compensate for a dietary deficiency such as fiber
  • Stress or Anxiety: Dogs relieve stress by eating grass
  • Underlying Illness: Your pup may have a medical problem such as inflammatory bowel disease that needs a checkup from your vet
  • Taste: Most dogs are just craving a nice, fresh salad!

Dogs eat Grass for Flavor.

The most common reason that many dogs eat grass is that they’re bored of eating the same repetitive meal every single day. Dogs possess a sense of taste called “gustation” which means they like the taste of different kinds of foods just like we do! 

Some veterinary medical science researchers believe that a dog’s gustation senses are even more powerful than ours! Flavor derives from smell and everyone knows that a dog’s sense of smell is superior to humans. Likewise, dogs can sense flavors that we cannot. Since dogs love to eat different kinds of food as we do, they can get sick and tired of eating their regular diet of the same kibble, so they resort to eating grass or other plants to taste something new and different.

Before you give your dog a treat or a mealtime snack, make sure you mix different kinds of foods with their normal menu so your dogs won’t feel like they’re eating the same thing all over again. You could try mixing dry kibble together with canned dog food to add some variety. You could also feed them meatballs or cook up a batch of homemade dog treats for a special dessert!

Dog Instincts & Grass Eating

Another reason your dog is eating grass is that they’re compensating for some nutritional deficiencies such as fiber and want to improve their digestive system by natural instinct.  

Be sure to always check the label on your dog’s diet to ensure they’re getting the vitamins they need daily to stay healthy and active. Also check their regular diet for preservatives, fillers, and other additives to avoid feeding them poor-quality dog food. The healthiest high-fiber diet consists of whole foods that you can actually pronounce.

Dogs are primarily carnivores with omnivore likings. They can live on kibble alone with no problem at all, but it doesn’t hurt if pet parents feed them appropriate vegetables.

If you’re wondering whether your dog is getting enough vegetables in its diet, you can ask your vet to do blood work to see how their nutrient levels are looking. Also, consider giving your pets daily vitamins just like children in order to reduce grass eating.

Bored Dogs eat Grass

Dogs don’t have any nutritional needs for consuming grass, however, if your dogs continue to eat grass after you’ve changed up their diet, they might just be bored!

Dogs sometimes become bored if they are left home alone for long periods of time, don’t get enough exercise, or don’t have enough toys and chews to keep them entertained. Thus, they may resort to eating grass.

Boredom grazing is especially common in puppies and young dogs. They have so much energy that they don’t know what to do with, which causes them to get into all sorts of trouble.

dogs eating grass

Vets recommend that dogs get at least 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise every single day depending on their breed, age, size, body type, and overall health.

If your dogs are bored or looking for something to do, you might want to consider buying them a puzzle toy or some interactive dog toys that will burn off their excess mental energy and tire them out more easily than mowing your lawn!

What Vets have to Say about Dogs Eating Grass

Veterinarians categorize dog grass-eating under Pica. 

Pica is the technical term used to describe dogs that eat non-food items, including grass, twigs, and other objects that you may consider odd items for dogs to eat.

Another reason why dogs eat grass and garden plants is that they may have an underlying disease or intestinal parasites.

Your vet will probably recommend a complete physical exam, along with a fecal examination to check for parasites and blood work to look for conditions such as anemia, liver disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or pancreatic disease.

If you noticed that your dog ate grass or other plants and is vomiting afterward, your dog may have ingested toxic chemicals from pesticides. Seek medical help from your vet immediately to help your dog induce vomiting and relieve all their stomach contents.

*Extra Note from AllYouNeedForPets: Be careful when letting your dogs eat grass. Coccidia is a bacteria that comes from eating grass with urine and fecal matter. It will cause your pets to cough, vomit, and become lethargic. Scoop up your dog’s poop after every bathroom break to reduce the risk of infection. If you notice these signs in your pets, seek medical attention to receive antibiotics.

How do I stop my dog from eating grass?

If you’ve checked with your veterinarian to make sure that your pup doesn’t have any potential problems, here are some ways to train this common behavior:

  • Eliminate access to objects that your dog may eat
  • Make sure your pet is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation
  • Consider environmental enrichment such as food puzzles, games, and a dog walker, if you are away from home a lot, to decrease boredom
  • Consider training your dog to wear a basket muzzle, if she eats objects in the yard. Never leave a muzzled dog unattended
  • Leash walk your dog and distract him from eating objects or poop with treats and praise. Teach him the “leave it” command
  • Try covering the objects with a bitter apple spray or cayenne pepper
  • Provide lots of safe toys and chewing objects that your pet can’t swallow
  • If your pet continues to eat foreign objects, consider a referral to a veterinary behaviorist who can help you get to the root of your pet’s behavior

dog eating grass

If you want a more detailed explanation behind your dog’s physical, instinctual, behavioral, and psychological need to eat grass, you can read more here.