Most dogs will nibble on grass now and again, but some dogs seem to munch on grass relentlessly. So, why do dogs eat grass, and should you be concerned? Our Berkeley vets share some reasons why dogs might eat grass and what you should do.
Why do dogs eat grass and vomit?
If your dog regularly eats grass it can leave you baffled and concerned - especially if your dog eats grass and vomits. Why on earth could they be doing that? 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?
Although many dogs will vomit after eating grass, it's not the case for all dogs. In fact, most dogs eat grass without showing any signs or symptoms of stomach upset. Which means that it's unlikely that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Then why do they do it?
Is there a physical reason why your dog eats grass?
Dogs, like humans, need plenty of fiber in their diet in order to keep their digestive system running smoothly. This means that good health relies on a good quantity of 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 their digestive tract flowing.
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.
Is there a psychological or emotional reason for your dog's grass-eating?
Boredom and anxiety are common psychological causes of grass eating. This behavior can be thought of in much the same way as people who 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 boredom is the likely cause of your pup's grass-eating, increasing the length, distance or intensity of their walks, introduce more intense playtimes or head to the off-leash dog park to allow your dog to enjoy some social time.
Another reason why dogs will frequently eat grass is separation anxiety. 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.
In other cases, 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 eating grass dangerous for dogs?
Dogs that are otherwise healthy and on parasite protection shouldn't face any troublesome issues from eating unsprayed grass. To help keep your grass munching mutt healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers on the grass your dog tends to chew on.
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.