If there is one canine behavior that always baffles pet owners, it’s their dog’s penchant for eating grass. Grass eating isn’t uncommon—in fact, one study suggests that 68 percent of dogs eat grass or other plants on a weekly basis. But why do dogs eat grass, exactly? And how do you know when their turf-grazing habits are actually a problem?
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
The general consensus among animal scientists and veterinarians is that grass eating is a form of pica, which is a condition where dogs feel compelled to eat non-food substances. According to PetMD, pica in dogs can have several underlying causes, ranging from hormonal imbalances to stress and anxiety. But what compels your dog to eat the green stuff in the first place? Here are some reasons why your dog likes to eat grass:
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Boredom: Similar to how kids pluck grass when they’re bored, your dog may chomp on grass to pass the time. If you want to discourage boredom-related grass-eating, you can give your pup a natural dog bone or a food-containing puzzle toy that channels their desire to forage. Mental stimulation for dogs is a great way to channel their energy!
Attention-Seeking: Have you ever played fetch with your dog and stopped for a few minutes, only to look up and find them munching on grass? If so, your canine pal might simply be trying to get your attention. Many dogs know that eating things they aren’t supposed to can quickly put the spotlight back on them
Anxiety:Dogs may also consume grass as a coping mechanism for stress—much like how humans bite on their fingernails when they’re anxious. Your anxious dog may even pluck the grass without actually eating any of it. If you suspect your dog is anxious, be sure to give them plenty of mental and physical exercise before you leave for the day. Giving your pup an old t-shirt or pillow with your scent on it can also bring them comfort.
Diet Deficiency: If your dog isn’t getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diet, they may try to eat grass as a way to compensate. The fix could be as simple as choosing a complete and balanced pet food for your dog in these instances.
Instinct: If there are no gaps in your dog’s nutrition, their desire to eat grass might be purely instinctual. Wolves and other wild canids are known to eat grass and plants to fulfill their dietary need for fiber. Therefore, it’s likely that your pup’s desire to eat grass was passed down from their ancestors.
Dogs Eat Grass to Relieve Upset Tummies – Myth or Fact?
Most dog owners assume that their dogs eat grass to help them settle an upset stomach, but that isn’t necessarily true. According to VCA, most dogs (90 percent) aren’t unwell before eating grass, and fewer than 25 percent throw up after a grazing session. If your dog is throwing up after eating grass, it’s probably unrelated to the grass eating itself. Your dog could have gobbled their food too quickly or eaten something irritating. However, if your dog frequently vomits after eating grass, it’s worth making an appointment with your vet to rule out something serious.
Is Grass Bad for My Dog?
Grass itself typically isn’t harmful to dogs. However, there are a few things you should know before you let your pup go to town on your lawn.
Skip pesticides and fertilizers. If you use pesticides or fertilizers in your lawn, don’t let your dog eat grass, as these can cause short- and long-term health issues. If you must use them, make sure your dog has a pesticide- and fertilizer-free space where they can sniff, roll in, and eat the grass.
Beware of parasites. No one likes to think about worms crawling in their dog’s digestive tract. To decrease the risk of your pup contracting a parasite, clean up dog poop in your yard on a daily basis and never let your dog munch on grass outside of your own yard.
Watch out for deadly weeds. Before you allow your dog to eat grass, make sure your yard is rid of buttercups, milkweed, horseweed, and other dangerous weeds. Foxtail seeds are particularly dangerous to dogs. These barbed clusters of grass don’t break down inside your dog’s body and only move forward, potentially causing a serious infection in dogs or even death.
Keeping Your Grass-Loving Pup Safe, Healthy, and Happy
To sum things up, it’s perfectly normal for pups to eat grass. They may be doing it for any number of reasons—to alleviate boredom, to ease anxiety, to mimic your pony, or to get your undivided attention. But if you’re not a fan of your dog’s turf-munching ways, you can always throw them a yummy chew treat instead. Looking for the perfect dog chew treat for your canine pal? Sniff out our selection of tail-wagging dog chew treats at Paw Love and treat your pup to all-natural goodness!