Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

Everything You Need to Know

A cream or white puppy laying in grass outside.

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Your favourite canine friend clearly isn’t a cow, so you might get surprised when you see them chomping on a mouthful of grass.

On a walk or in the yard, you might be confused by this behavior. Are they sick? Hungry? Is it safe? Will they get poisoned by eating grass?

The good news is that a dog eating grass is often not a cause for concern. Read on to find out why your dog might be eating grass and how to tell when it is actually a problem.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass: Explained

Concerned dog parents are often left wondering why their pets seem to enjoy eating grass.

In fact, it is common for dogs to eat grass, vomit, and then get right back to chewing the greenery again. While it may seem like the dog feels that there is something in his stomach that needs to be brought up, this isn’t usually the case.

Yes, some dogs do vomit after consuming grass — but not all of them! In fact, most dogs will eat grass without ever showing signs of an upset stomach.

So, if dogs don’t eat grass to promote vomiting, why do they do it?

Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass

Much like people who bite nails or twirl hair, dogs often eat grass out of boredom or anxiety.

If your dog doesn’t seem to have any digestive issues but munches continuously on grass, consider the psychological reasons for this action:

A long brown dog eating some dirt.

Much like people who bite nails or twirl hair, dogs often eat grass out of boredom or anxiety.

If your dog doesn’t seem to have any digestive issues but munches continuously on grass, consider the psychological reasons for this action:

1. They Are Stressed, Bored, or Upset

Some veterinarians believe that dogs eat grass when they are stressed, anxious, bored, or upset about something. As such, some dogs are more likely to eat grass when they are alone in the backyard rather than when they are together with the owners, which supports the idea that they are not happy when they do so.

If you suspect that your pup is bored, try to increase the distance, length, and intensity of daily walks. Take them on more frequent walks.

On the other hand, if the dog is suffering from separation anxiety, try leaving an old t-shirt or blanket with them when you leave the house. Your pup may find the familiar scent calming and reassuring to help deal with anxiety. Also leave them with food-filled slow feeders such as Kong toys.

In addition, some dogs demonstrate obsessive and compulsive behaviours for deeper reasons. If your pooch seems to be eating grass obsessively, consult a veterinarian or a professional behavioural therapist for dogs to identify the root of the problem.

2. Their Instincts Tell Them To Do So

Grass eating behaviour could stem from instinctive psychological reasons as well.

Remember that dogs come from wild ancestors, which ate any animals they could hunt — including the stomach content of those animals. Many times, this stomach content included the grass that the animals had been feeding on.

Even today, up to half of modern wild wolves occasionally consume grass, whether along with their regular diet or on purpose.

If your dog eats grass in response to instincts, they will likely not vomit afterward.

So, if you notice your pup chewing on grass and not throwing up from it, there is no reason for concern. They are just doing what their ancestors once did.

A long brown dog eating some dirt.

3. They Enjoy the Taste of Grass

The reason behind why your dog eats grass can be as simple as the fact that they like the way it tastes.

Some dogs have been shown to only eat certain types of grass, at certain times of the year, and in certain locations, supporting the idea that they like the texture and taste of the grass they chew on.

Then, there are other dogs who run outside every chance they get to chomp on the backyard grass. This behaviour makes it obvious that they simply love the wild taste!

In this case, consider feeding your dog more dog-safe fruits and vegetables in addition to their regular diet.

Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass

A Beagle dog eats green grass while outside on a walk.

In addition to the many emotional reasons why dogs love eating grass, many vets believe that there could also be potential physical reasons behind this behaviour.

These are some of the most common theories as to what physical needs dogs may be trying to fulfill by eating grass:

1. A Dietary Response

Similar to people, dogs need to have a sufficient amount of fibre in their diets to ensure that their digestive system functions effectively.

At the end of the day, dogs are omnivores, which means that they need to consume both high-quality meat and plant foods.

As such, eating grass may be an easy way for dogs to add some fibre to their diet and ensure that the things flow well through their digestive tract.

Be sure to feed your dog fruits and vegetable snacks that they can eat safely to fill these dietary needs and keep your dog healthy.

2. Upset Stomach

Many dog parents believe that their pups eat grass because they have an upset stomach — likely because grass eating is closely linked to vomiting.

However, even vets are still unsure whether dogs throw up in response to eating grass, or whether they are throwing up because their stomach was already upset and the dog thought the grass would help settle the discomfort.

The truth is, most dogs who consume grass seem completely healthy beforehand, and many don’t ever throw up after completing their wild green meal.

So, while your dog may be eating grass because of an upset stomach, it is unlikely.

3. Other Stomach Problems

If your dog is showing symptoms of stomach discomfort, there may be an underlying medical problem.

Dogs can suffer from a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including pancreatitis, gastric reflux, and inflammatory bowel disease.

It is time to call a vet if your dog is eating grass while showing other strage symptoms such as:

    • diarrhea
    • constipation
    • lack of appetite.

Is It Safe for My Dog to Eat Grass?

For otherwise healthy dogs, eating grass is generally considered to be safe, even if they throw up from it. They may be simply doing so in response to a certain psychological need.

However, it is important to regularly check your grass-eating pup for parasites. It is possible that outdoor grass may be dirty with things we don’t want inside our dogs.

Also, keep your dog away from heavily-manicured lawns and other grass that could have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. Man-made chemicals are toxic for dogs and potentially very dangerous.

All in all, as long as your dog isn’t consuming toxic chemicals or getting parasites, eating grass shouldn’t be an issue.

However, you could still bring it up at your next vet appointment, just to be sure you aren’t missing any concerns.

Two brown dogs eat green grass outside.

Should You Stop Your Dog From Eating Grass?

While eating grass would probably not harm your dog, sometimes it is better to stay on the safe side and try to stop this behaviour.

Of course, green, fresh grass may be tasty and attractive to your dog, but you don’t know if it has been sprayed with toxic chemicals.

In addition, it could be contaminated with intestinal parasites that come from other dogs’ or cats’ droppings.

Finally, keep in mind that certain garden and house plants are dangerous to dogs, especially if eaten. All unsafe plants should be kept completely out of reach for dogs.

How Can You Stop Your Dog from Eating Grass?

To combat your dog’s grass-eating habit, follow the following steps:

  1. Revise your dog’s diet.

If you suspect that your dog is munching on grass for its texture and flavour, you can feed them more dog-safe fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, plant a container of edible, organic grass at home. This will keep your pet happy and help then stay away from the grass outside.

  1. Train your dog to ignore grass.

If your pup attempts to pull you off the sidewalk to chew on some grass, try distracting them by gently leading them in a different direction with treats.

Give them a cue like “Drop” or “Sit” and then reward them with a treat when they’re focused on something other than grass.

  1. Keep your dog busy.

Make sure your dog knows how to entertain themself and walk politely whenever they are outside.

For example, you can give them a favourite chew toy to keep their mouth and mind occupied while on walks. Be prepared to take it and hold it for the rest of the walk if their jaw gets tired and they want to let go.

Also consider investing in toys that don’t require your involvement, such as an electronic ball launcher or an interactive dog toy that dispenses treats.

In A Nutshell

It is common for dogs to eat grass, and the grass itself isn’t dangerous to your pup.

However, the potential contamination from intestinal parasites and lawn chemicals is a good-enough reason to teach your four-legged friend to stay away from the dirty grass outside.

So, whether your pooch is craving something green and crunchy, needs an activity to fight boredom, or is simply following their instincts — it is best to find a way to distract them from the grass and fulfill their need in a different way.