Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? A Vet Weighs In
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If your dog is eating grass, you are probably a concerned pet parent wondering why it’s happening.
So why do dogs eat grass? Does it always mean that they have an upset stomach?
Eating grass is a very common and normal behavior for dogs; some dogs simply like the taste and texture of grass, and this strange behavior isn’t always linked to health problems or deficiencies.
It can also be a sign that something else is wrong, so let’s learn more about what eating grass means and when you should contact your vet.
- Eating grass is a common dog behavior and doesn't always indicate health problems.
- Dogs may eat grass due to boredom, liking the taste, needing more fiber in their diet, feeling sick, experiencing pain, or trying to flush out parasites.
- Contact your vet if your dog eats grass excessively, is regularly sick afterward, appears unwell, or has changes in appetite.
Why is My Dog Eating Grass?
It’s common to worry that a dog is feeling sick or has a nutritional deficiency if we spot them chewing on grass. However, there are lots of common reasons dogs eat grass:
1. Your dog is bored (lack of stimulation)
Chewing and digging behaviors are commonly linked to boredom and a lack of mental stimulation. Your dog might go into the garden to tear up your lawn if they want your attention, or is simply looking for something to do.
2. Your dog likes the taste of grass
Some dogs love the taste and texture of grass, especially in spring and summer when the grass is long and fresh. Many dog owners report that their dog regularly eats grass, and it’s particularly common in younger dogs.
3. Your dog needs more fiber in their diet
Some dogs eat grass because they seek more fiber in their diet, as grass provides roughage. Some research suggests that dogs lacking sufficient fiber might turn to grass, which could be a drawback of grain-free diets with lower fiber content.
4. Your dog is feeling sick
It’s widely believed by pet parents that dogs eat grass because they feel sick or to try and make themselves sick. However, research shows that less than 1 in 10 dogs showed signs of illness before eating grass. Only a quarter of dogs who ate grass were regularly sick afterward. So, while some dogs are sick after eating grass, it isn’t always the case.
5. Your dog is experiencing pain
Dogs often struggle to tell us they’re in pain and try to hide or distract themselves from it. A change in behavior, such as eating grass, could be a sign of either abdominal pain or pain somewhere else.
6. Your dog is trying to flush out parasites
To get rid of parasites – it’s thought by some researchers that undigested grass might help remove parasites from the gut by wrapping itself around the parasites so they are passed out of the digestive tract.
What Should I Do if My Dog is Eating Grass?
If your dog eats a bit of grass every now and again, there’s no need to be concerned as it can be a normal and natural behavior. The grass isn’t very nutritious, and your dog won’t gain much from it.
However, there is a risk of parasites associated with eating grass. You should always ensure your dog is up to date with their regular parasite treatments anyway, especially if your dog has a habit of eating grass.
There is also a risk of your dog ingesting slugs or snails when they eat grass; in the winter months especially, this poses a lungworm risk, so speak to your vet to ensure your dog’s parasite treatment includes protection against lungworm.
You should never let your dog eat grass treated with fertilizer or pesticides, as these are often toxic and can make your dog very unwell.
If you are concerned about your dog’s grass-eating habit then you should contact your vet for advice, especially if:
- Your dog is eating grass excessively
- Your dog is sick regularly after eating grass
- Your dog appears unwell in any other way
- Your dog is eating grass but not eating their usual food
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Grass
If your dog has a habit of eating grass, it's essential to address it, especially if it becomes excessive and causes damage to your garden. Before taking action, it's always best to consult your vet to rule out any underlying issues.
If your dog is eating grass due to attention-seeking behavior, boredom, or anxiety, there are several things you can do to help. Start by identifying the root cause of their boredom or anxiety and find ways to manage it.
Ensure your dog receives enough daily exercise and isn't left alone for extended periods (no more than 4-5 hours at a time).
Providing a variety of toys and mental stimulation, such as lick mats and puzzle games, can also improve their mental well-being.
Sometimes, limiting their access to certain garden areas may be necessary. Your vet can offer valuable guidance and may also recommend pet behavior counseling.
In conclusion, eating grass may be an occasional habit for some dogs, or it could mean your dog is unwell, in pain, or suffering from boredom or anxiety. But it can also become an obsessive and challenging behavior to deal with.
If you are concerned that your dog is suddenly eating much grass or showing signs of illness, it’s important to get them examined by their veterinarian.
You can also have your dog examined from the comfort of your own home. Book a vet visit, and we'll come to you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do dogs eat grass and then throw up?
Eating grass may ease their nausea, and it can also help induce vomiting in dogs if they feel sick.
Why do dogs eat grass when they’re sick?
Dogs may eat grass when they're feeling unwell as it can help induce vomiting, providing relief from nausea or discomfort. It's also thought that eating grass might help dogs remove parasites from their gut. However, not all grass-eating dogs are sick, as this behavior is common and can have various causes.
Do dogs like eating grass?
Some dogs like the taste and texture of grass, especially when it is very green and fresh in spring and summer.