Our Berkeley vets are often asked why dogs eat grass, and whether it is safe. Today our Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital team shares some of the reasons why dogs eat grass, and when you should be concerned.
Why Dogs Eat Grass
Concerned pet parents are often left scratching their heads wondering why their dogs seem to love eating grass. In fact, many dogs will eat grass, vomit, and then go right back to eating grass again.
Could this be an indication that the dog feels there is something in their stomach that needs to be brought up? Has the dog eaten something poisonous? Is the dog self-treating an undiagnosed medical condition?
Some dogs do in fact vomit after eating grass, but that's not the case for all dogs. The majority of dogs eat grass without showing any signs or symptoms of stomach upset. So it seems unlikely that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Then why do they do it?
Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Like people, dogs need fiber to keep their digestive system running smoothly. After all, dogs are omnivores. This means that good health relies on plant foods as well as high-quality meat. Eating grass may be an easy way for your pooch to add roughage to their diet, helping to keep things flowing through their digestive tract.
That said, if your dog is eating grass but also showing signs of stomach upset, there may be a medical problem. Dogs can suffer from a number of stomach and gastrointestinal issues including conditions such as pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass and has other symptoms such as lack of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's a good idea to take your pup to the vet for an examination.
Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Dogs will often eat grass due to boredom or anxiety in much the same way that people will bite their nails. If your dog isn't displaying any symptoms of digestive issues but munches relentlessly on grass, consider psychological reasons for their behavior.
If your dog could simply be suffering from boredom, increasing the length, distance or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating.
Separation anxiety could also be the reason that your dog is eating grass. Try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog when you leave the house. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb their grass-eating habit.
Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your pup reduce obsessive behaviors.
Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?
If your dog is otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be a safe behavior.
To help keep your grass nibbling pooch healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers on the grass your dog enjoys.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.