Why Does Your Dog Eat Grass?

Most dog owners have, at one time or another, seen their dogs eating grass. Some people become worried, especially when they see their dog eating grass and then vomiting it up shortly afterward. They naturally wonder if their dog is sick or if eating grass will hurt him or even if they should try to prevent their dog from doing so. 

There also seems to be a popular notion that dogs eat grass to “clean out their stomachs” especially if their dog is one that always throws up after eating grass. But while nearly all dogs will eat grass occasionally, not all dogs vomit after doing so. In fact, less than twenty-five percent of dogs who eat grass will vomit after doing so. And according to research surveys, less than ten percent of dogs who ate grass were obviously ill before doing so. 

Ok so that debunks the notion that dogs are eating grass to make themselves throw up. But that still doesn’t answer the question as to why they do this in the first place. Eating things that are not food items is known as pica and is seen in both humans and animals.

Pica can sometimes indicate a nutritional deficiency or if seen in puppies and young dogs, can simply be a sign of boredom. Will dogs have also been observed eating grass. This behavior is so common that most veterinarians consider it normal.  

So, if you think your dog is eating grass because he is bored, then extra playtime or a new chew toy may do the trick. If you are concerned about a nutritional deficiency, there have been reports of people switching to a high quality, high fiber dog food that helped. 

There is one caution to keep in mind however. Although most veterinarians do not consider grass itself to be harmful, pesticides and herbicides that are commonly used on lawns can be poisonous to your dog. Plus, if you have common ornamental plants in your yard and your dog eats these along with the grass, he may be in danger of getting sick, so please be aware.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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