It might surprise you that eating grass is a very common behavior in dogs and that most dogs will eat grass at some point in their lives. But why do dogs eat grass in the first place? Dog lovers and scientists have offered a variety of hypotheses over the years, though there haven’t been many studies to confirm any one reason why:
- It’s natural – According to Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, dogs are opportunistic scavengers and will typically supplement their diets with anything they can find, including plant material. Since dogs’ ancestors and wild relatives would often eat the plant-filled viscera of their herbivore prey first, it’s possible that our modern dogs have developed a taste for vegetable material and the nutrients it contains too.
- They're making themselves vomit – Some people hypothesize that dogs eat grass because their stomach is upset and so they’re trying to induce vomit. But since very few dogs actually throw up after eating grass, this probably isn’t the main motivation.
- They need more fiber – Another unproven theory, but some suggest that dogs that eat grass do so because they need more fiber that their diets aren't providing.
- They're bored – Nothing to do? Might as well eat, right? Humans munch on textured snacks when we’re bored, so it’s possible that dogs do the same when they’re not getting enough mental and/or physical stimulation.
- The most likely answer – In the absence of other signs of illness, dogs may simply enjoy the taste and texture of grass.
Is Eating Grass Dangerous for Dogs?
Eating grass isn’t inherently dangerous for dogs, but there are some important reasons why you should keep an eye on this behavior:
- Certain fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides are not pet-friendly, so consider switching if your dog loves munching on the landscaping.
- Some plants are toxic to dogs. The ASPCA has a list the plants to avoid putting in your yard or home – keep this list of toxic plants for dogs bookmarked if you’re a pet parent and a plant parent!
- Dogs might not stop at grass. Sticks, leaves, and rocks become fair game too, which can cause blockages.
- If you see a sudden increase in grass eating, talk to your veterinarian, as it could be a symptom of an underlying health issue. If your dog starts showing signs of lethargy, diarrhea, and weight loss alongside vomiting after eating grass, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Grass
Unless your dog is showing signs of a health concern lurking in the background, a penchant for eating grass isn’t typically something you need to worry about. If you’d like your dog to leave the landscaping alone, there are a couple of tactics you can try:
- Make sure he gets enough exercise – Especially if you suspect your dog is eating grass out of boredom, the right amount of mental and physical exercise on a day-to-day basis is important for keeping your dog active and out of trouble. If you’re looking for ideas, check out our posts on brain games for dogs and how to choose the best exercise for your dog.
- Switch to a better dog food – Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog isn’t getting enough fiber or vitamins in his diet, which may prompt his snacking on grass. Switching to a dog food that’s complete and balanced like a personalized blend from Just Right by Purina may be a great option to fulfill all his nutritional needs.
It’s important to remember that no matter your dog’s vice, make sure the foundation of his diet is a complete and balanced blend of food that’s tailored for his nutritional needs and preferences like Just Right by Purina.