Dogs have the tendency to get into a wide variety of things that they shouldn’t be eating. Some of these items can be a cause for concern, while others we may decide to let go because we know that the items in question are harmless. However, there’s one behavior that many dog owners will observe throughout their pup’s lifetime: eating grass.
This behavior can naturally prompt a few important questions. Why do dogs eat grass? Is it safe for them to eat grass? Does eating grass indicate a larger problem? If you’ve seen your dog grazing in your yard, let’s dive into this common behavior, what it means, and what you should do about it!
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Well… We Don’t Really Know
What we do know is that the phenomenon of dogs eating things has a name: Pica. Pica is a disorder (for which eating grass is commonly believed to be pica), but you’ll be pleased to know that this form of it is relatively harmless and surprisingly common. If you do see your dog munching on some green grass, you aren’t alone.
But why do dogs eat grass? The answer depends on who you ask. Some think that eating grass is done solely out of boredom, which makes sense when you consider how they may occupy themselves with other items in your house that have discernible bite marks.
Others may say that dogs eat grass for medical reasons. For example, if they’re not getting enough of what they need, they may eat grass (although, like many of the other theories, this isn’t necessarily based in evidence). Some say that dogs may eat grass to vomit and alleviate an upset stomach or even aiding digestion or getting rid of worms.
Put simply, there are a wide variety of theories and little evidence to back them up. Some dogs may like it, some dogs may be looking to fill nutritional deficiencies or improving digestion, and some dogs may just be playing around. But while this behavior is natural and may not be too much of a cause for concern for some dog owners, that doesn’t mean that it’s entirely safe.
Is Eating Grass Dangerous for Dogs?
As it is with most foods and non-foods, there are considerations to make to ensure that your pup is safe at all times. Some of these considerations include:
- Watch out for symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, changes in weight and appetite, bloody stool, and fatigue. If these should appear while dogs are eating grass, it could point to a bigger issue and will warrant an immediate vet visit.
- If you have a yard that contains pesticides and herbicides, these toxins can make their way into your dog’s system and cause a wide variety of issues. If they’re eating grass, they may also be eating other wild plants, and some of these can also be dangerous to your dog. Is it great to eat grass? No, and this point emphasizes the reason why this behavior should be limited if possible.
- Dogs who eat grass in areas outside of your home are at risk of ingesting foreign objects and contracting parasites and other illnesses. If your dog does have a habit of eating grass, create a safe space for them at home where you can eliminate these risks and encourage them to quit the habit so they don’t face these risks outside of the home.
Even though grass is considered to be natural and not the worst thing your pup could get its paws on, it still comes with dangers that could put your dog at risk. Keep this in mind if eating grass is a behavior that your dog exhibits!
What Do I Do If My Dog Keeps Eating Grass?
Once owners answer the question, “why do dogs eat grass?”, the next obvious question is, “how do I get them to stop?”. If your dog seems to be eating grass out of boredom, do your best to keep them occupied and exercise with them more. This may not eliminate the habit entirely, but it can determine whether or not it is the reason for your dog eating grass.
If you’re worried that your pup isn’t getting all the nutrients or fiber required in their diet, you can see if switching to a better dog food does the trick. If you’re concerned that eating grass may indicate another health issue, going to the vet for a quick visit can be a great way to tackle this behavior as well.
Finally, you can make it a goal to train them out of the behavior, either by yourself or with the assistance of a seasoned dog trainer. This may only be needed if you find that your dog is eating excessive amounts of grass or seems to be obsessed with ingesting it. In the end, it’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pup’s health.
So, why do dogs eat grass? We may not ever truly know, but what we do know is that this behavior is common and that it may be accompanied by certain health risks due to natural and chemical contaminants found in the grass around the home as well as in public. If your dog eats grass, you can use the guide above to learn more about this habit and what should be done to curb it!