By Courtney Emken
co-written by Bart Emken, CPDT-KA, Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott.
Ah, one of the great mysteries of life: why oh why does my dog eat grass? Owners have struggled with this riddle for years. Are their tummies upset? Are they lacking vitamins? Is grass just delicious?
If you’ve been puzzling over your dog’s strange habit, then this is the article for you. We’re going to take an in-depth look at the biological and behavioral causes of canine grass consumption. In other words, we’re going to figure out why exactly our dogs eat grass.
So Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
The short answer: it’s complicated. Canine behaviorists and vets have been trying for ages to come up with a definitive explanation for why dogs eat grass. But, the root causes differ greatly from dog to dog. We’re going to address the two most common problems:
- Nutritional Deficiency
Before we dive in, we want to assure you that your dog isn’t abnormal. Grass consumption is completely normal for pets, and has even been documented among wild dogs.
#1 Grass Eating Due To Boredom
Many dog breeds were raised in order to do high-energy, labor intensive work. When they don’t get adequate stimulation, they begin to act out in order to release some of that pent up energy. Breeds that are especially susceptible to this include:
While some breeds may be content to laze away on the couch, these dogs need to be active or they become increasingly bored. Dogs do strange things when they’re bored, and one of those things is eating random objects for fun (even if they regret it later).
The best way to prevent this is to keep your dog preoccupied. Make sure they’re getting enough exercise and don’t forget that their brain needs work too! If you’re away during the day, we highly recommend finding something like our At-Home Dog Walking Service to keep your dog entertained during your absence.
#2 Grass Eating Due To Nutritional Deficiency
While somewhat controversial, there’s considerable evidence that grass-eating is a sign of nutritional deficiency. Whether it’s a lack of fiber or intestinal worms is up for debate, but if you’ve ruled out boredom, then looking at your dog’s diet is the next step.
Solving this problem may be as easy as using a higher quality dog food. DogBoy’s feeds Horizon’s Pulsar food, but there are many quality brands out there you can try. We highly recommend using Dog Food Advisor to find the food that’s right for you.
If changing their diet doesn’t put a dent in their grass eating, then take your dog to the vet for a full check up. They’ll be able to determine whether a more serious health issue is responsible for your pet’s pica, and what measures you should take to stop it.
Does Eating Grass Mean My Dog’s Sick? Will It Make Them Sick?
Many owners mistakenly assume that their dogs eat grass when they feel sick in order to vomit. This is a completely logical conclusion; however, the majority of dogs aren’t ill before consuming grass. Plus, most dogs don’t actually regurgitate the digested grass.
While it would certainly be cool if grass-eating was a form of canine herbal remedy, in reality, something much more simple is happening. Most likely it’s just a symptom of a nutritional or behavioral issue. If not, you may have a grass-loving pooch on your hands- which is totally fine!
Luckily, grass isn’t toxic to dogs, just be sure to avoid more dangerous plants, such as:
So long as you keep your dog safely away from poisonous plants no harm should come of their grass eating tendencies (except the occasional grass stain on your floor).
If you have more questions about why dogs eat grass, or want to talk about why it’s insane that we keep planting Sago Palms all over Austin, then feel free to contact us today. We know what it’s like to have pets who just can’t get enough of the green stuff!
Dog in Grass by Ben Watts
Sad Dog in Grass by J Wynia
Dog Deep in Grass by Darshan Simha
Sago Palm by Tatters