Picture this: you and your dog are outside enjoying nature when you notice him munching on some nearby grass. Watching your dog eat non-food items can be distressing, especially if there’s a chance that what he’s eating could make him sick.
In the article below, you’ll learn the reasons why your dog eats grass. After you learn the reasons behind the behavior, we’ll provide a few tips to help you respond appropriately when you see your dog munching on grass.
7 Reasons Why Your Dog is Eating Grass
The following are seven reasons why your dog is eating grass, along with some information to help you figure out which reason (or reasons) apply to your dog.
1. It is in your dog’s instinct
Dogs are hardwired to scavenge and hunt for their food. Since dogs are omnivores, they eat both meat and plants. They know that they need to find food wherever they can in order to survive. Grass and other plants may make a good food source, especially if your dog is hungry.
Your dog’s ancestors likely depended on grass to supplement other food. Some experts even believe that they ate grass as a way to mask their scent while hunting prey. Because they are omnivorous creatures, domesticated dogs may still have a taste for fresh grass.
If you can’t find any other reason why your dog is eating grass, their instincts may be the root cause.
2. Your dog is bored
Dogs often get bored easily when they aren’t given enough stimulation. If your dog has ever been bored indoors, you’ve probably discovered things like chewed socks or garbage. When left outdoors, some dogs may resort to chewing grass as a means to pass the time.
It’s fairly easy to see if your dog’s grass-eating behavior is tied to boredom. Watch your dog when he has plenty of exercise and playtime. If he stops eating grass, it’s a pretty good indication that he was only munching out of boredom.
Make sure your dog has enough toys and appropriate items to chew on, especially if he’s left attended for long periods of time. This will keep him from getting into something he shouldn’t.
3. Your dog has anxiety
Dogs with separation anxiety may eat grass as a way to cope with their feelings. If your dog only eats grass when left alone, you might have an anxious chewer on your hands.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your dog’s chewing is due to boredom or anxiety. In many cases, unattended dogs may chew grass for both of these reasons.
Because of this, you should make sure your dog has plenty to keep him occupied. You should leave a personal item (like a sweater you’ve recently worn) with your dog when you’re away to ease their separation anxiety.
4. Your dog is missing key nutrients in her diet
Some dogs eat grass when they’re really hungry or missing certain nutrients in their diet. If your dog isn’t getting enough nutrient-rich food, she may turn to grass-eating to supplement the deficiency. Grass can contain vitamins, nutrients, and minerals your dog needs to thrive.
If your dog is eating grass regularly, take a hard look at her diet to determine whether her needs are being met.
Some homemade meals may not have all the nutrients your dog needs to thrive, so it’s important to plan your dog’s diet under the guidance of your dog’s veterinarian or pet nutritionist. When your dog’s needs are met, she’s less likely to turn to grass to supplement her diet.
5. Your dog is sick
Some dogs eat grass when they’re feeling unwell, since eating grass can help them induce vomiting. That means grass-eating should be taken seriously, especially if your dog is eating more grass and vomiting at a higher frequency. Your dog may be self-medicating an underlying problem.
Some people think that dogs eat grass as a way to purge intestinal parasites. However, much of this supposition is unsubstantiated.
If you suspect your dog is using grass as a way to self-medicate, make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian to discover the underlying causes of your dog’s behavior.
6. Your dog just likes the taste or texture of grass
Some dogs discover that they like eating grass. Your dog might like eating grass if he rushes out the door and immediately munches on nearby grass. As long as your dog doesn’t develop stomach problems, it probably won’t hurt him to eat a little grass from time to time.
7. Your dog might have a form of pica
Pica is a disorder that causes your dog to eat non-food items. In some cases, your dog’s pica is caused by a deficiency in his diet. However, some dogs develop pica as a way to cope with psychological distress, such as anxiety or boredom.
If your dog has pica, he likely eats other non-food items. This may include trash and household items. If your dog habitually eats non-food items, talk to his veterinarian to help uncover the root causes of his behavior.
What to Do When Your Dog Eats Grass
When your dog eats grass for the first time, it might be distressing. The following are a few approaches you can take the next time your dog eats grass.
1. Let him eat it
Grass can be healthy for your dog since it has many nutrients. In most cases, eating grass is harmless. As long as your dog is only munching on a small amount of grass that’s free of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, it’s fine to let him indulge in a little munching.
However, make sure you know that the grass he’s eating is safe. When possible, supervise your dog outdoors because grass can get stuck to the back of his throat and cause discomfort to your pup.
2. Change his diet to fill any nutritional gaps
If your dog is eating grass because of a nutritional deficiency, make adjustments to his diet. In many cases, updates to your dog’s diet can greatly reduce the frequency in which he eats grass. Although some dogs eat grass just for fun, it’s important to rule out any dietary causes.
3. Use treats to dissuade him from eating grass
You can provide treats for your dog when he doesn’t eat grass after going outside. Use treats as a supplement to training to help prevent him from eating grass. If he leans down to eat grass, find a way to redirect his energy or give him a verbal reminder not to eat the grass.
When he changes course, offer a treat. Over time, your pup will learn that he gets treats when he doesn’t eat grass outside.
4. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian
If eating grass is new behavior for your dog or if his grass consumption has recently increased, talk to his veterinarian. Increased grass eating may be a sign that your dog is struggling with some underlying disease.
You should watch for other symptoms of disease, such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, blood in stool, decrease in appetite, lethargy, or lip-licking. Contact your dog’s veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms since prompt treatment is important for your pup’s health.
Dogs often eat grass for a variety of reasons. No matter why your dog is eating grass, a little grass here and there won’t hurt him. However, grass that’s covered in pesticides may be toxic to your dog, so it’s important to know how the grass is treated in areas where your dog is munching.
In most cases, you should try to reduce your dog’s grass-eating behavior. If there’s an underlying cause for his behavior, make sure to treat it promptly. Filling any gaps in your dog’s nutrition may be all the change you need to curb this behavior.
Don’t be afraid to contact your dog’s veterinarian for advice. If your dog begins eating grass at a higher frequency, it may be a sign that he’s fighting an underlying illness. Your dog’s veterinarian will help rule out illness and provide helpful feedback to help you correct your dog’s behavior.