Why Do Dogs Eat Grass
Many clients ask "why do dogs eat grass?"
Some feel alarmed when they see Fido chewing on a lawn, and for good reason if that lawn has been sprayed with chemicals. Otherwise though, eating grass is a behavior known as “pica” which encompasses eating pretty much anything that’s not considered to be food. Here are a number of factors to decipher this grass-eating behavior.
Puppies have curious noses and eager mouths. Their world of discovery includes a need to understand if something is food, or a toy, etc. So, pups and young dogs may engage in eating grass because of that, or simply due to boredom. Typically, they will yank tufts of grass, perhaps chewing a little before spitting it out, and repeating the actions as if playing a game.
However, there can also be health-related reasons for dogs eating grass, and although we may not understand all of them, some are clearly medicinal in action. Grass consumption is often used to purge the body.
Dogs experiencing a gastrointestinal upset will often eat grass. They tend to eat it at a frantic pace, and in fairly large amounts. They’re not selective about it. Instead, they will consume, lick their lips (often a sign of nausea) and vomit. The behavior then stops. I wouldn’t worry too much about it if this happens very rarely (1-2 times per year), but you need to try and get to the bottom of it if it happens more often.
Keep a diary and jot down what the dog eats prior to exhibiting this behavior. Does s/he eat grass after receiving a certain treat? After a fattier food? After being groomed? (stress can affect the gastrointestinal tract, so this connection is possible)
I’ve seen grass-eating stop cold when fiber was added to the diet. Does this mean some dogs eat grass as a dietary fix? The possibility exists even if it’s not the answer for all dogs. The bottom line is that frequent gastrointestinal upsets as would be indicated by eating grass frequently and vomiting afterward can certainly be a sign that the diet needs correction.
“But I feed a fantastic diet” you might say. Yes, it may be wonderful for some dogs, but not yours. Vomiting often (weekly) isn’t normal. Change the diet to something else that’s high quality and has a limited number of ingredients, or better yet, create a diet specifically formulated for your dog, and make a gradual transition. For more information to help you choose products that can help, see this blog post.
DOGS ALSO EAT GRASS BECAUSE THEY ENJOY IT
The flip side of everything I’ve written about is that some dogs simply enjoy the behavior. They don’t race out the door the second you open it and frantically chow down on grass. They’re leisurely about it. In fact, some are quite selective, and we may learn from the. Young spring shoots of grass tend to be moist, and tender. Grass contains chlorophyll and phytonutrients. Is your dog getting and fresh veggie greens in is diet? I’ve found some dogs to eat far less grass when the addition is made.
The bottom line? Unless your dog eats grass in order to purge often, this is considered to be a normal canine behavior. That doesn’t mean it’s always safe. Dogs should be kept away from grass that’s been treated with chemicals, pesticides, or herbicides.