Seeing your dog eating grass is odd, but should you be concerned about it. Why do dogs eat grass? Is it because they miss some ingredients in their diet, maybe they like it or there is something else to it?
What do scientific researchers say?
Dogs frequently eat grass or other plants for no obvious nutritional value.
According to the studies from the School of Veterinary Medicine, 79% of tested dogs eat some kind of green plant with grass being the major one.
Below is the summary of findings:
- 68% of dogs eat plants on a daily or weekly basis
- The grass was the most eaten plant by 79 % of dogs
- 9% of dogs were ill before eating plants
- 22% of dogs vomited after eating plants
- No relation has been found between gender, gonadal status, breed group or diet
- Younger aged dogs were associated with more plant-eating, more non-grass plant consumption, less illness before or after eating plants
5 reasons why do dogs eat grass
As you see there is no clear indication whether grass could be helpful or harmful for dogs, but there are different reasons why dogs eat grass, that may help answer the question.
#1 Dogs feel unwell
Based on the studies, it is not proven whether dogs eat grass because they have an upset stomach and want to vomit, or they vomit because they ate too much grass and have an upset stomach.
There are some assumptions that dogs instinctively look for something green if they have a digestive problem that may be is caused by lack of roughage.
#2 Dogs luck roughage
Dogs need roughage in their diet as it is a good source of fibre. Roughage helps dogs to digest food and pass stool. By eating grass dogs body functions may run smoother.
#3 Dogs are bored
It often happens dogs are abandoned in the backyard for the whole day while their owners go to work. Active dog breeds that need consistent attention, may be bored during that time so eating grass helps the time go by faster.
Dogs love human attention and may try to get your attention by doing some inappropriate actions like eating grass.
If you notice your dog eats less grass when you are around playing with your canine, that maybe it is a good idea to leave some personal items before you do go work (e.g. an old shoes or shirt) so the dog can munch on it when you are away.
Alternatively, from time to time, you can bring some new toys, so the dog will be distracted from eating the plants.
#4 Dog’s ancestry as an instinctive reason to eat plants
The dog is a direct descendant of the grey wolf. Saying simple, dogs now are domesticated wolves.
Wolves did not eat kibble from packaged bags. Instead, they hunted for prey and as a result ate the whole animal including meat, bones, internal organs, and stomach content.
By doing that, the wolves had a balanced diet as their prey stomach often contained grass or plants. That fulfilled their need for fibre.
By examining wolves stool, it is proven that 15% to 50% of wolves eat grass.
Another ancestry reason is that wolves and dogs are scavengers and eat something when an opportunity arises.
Our dogs now don’t need to hunt but they have a natural instinct to scavenge.
In summary, dogs’ ancestry might be a factor in eating plants. Their hunting and scavenging instinct might be suppressed significantly, but they still feel a need to grab a green snack.
#5 Dogs like it!
We cannot just ignore the fact dogs simply like it. The grass texture and smell could be attractive for many dogs especially in spring when everything emerges from the soil and smells beautiful.
What else can be dangerous when dogs eat grass?
One thing to remember is to keep your dogs away from toxic plants, or chemically treated lawns that contain herbicides and pesticides. But, that’s not everything.
Dogs can also ingest parasites like hookworms or roundworms that are left from other dogs fecal residue in the grass. This is something we will not see with a naked eye, so what to do?
If you often visit dogs’ enclosed playgrounds where other dogs are present, this is a definite no go for eating anything. You cannot trust that all dogs that run around in this place are healthy.
If your dog is responsive to verbal commands like ‘Leave it’ or ‘Heel’ then it should not be a problem. Remember it is never too late to teach your dog the basic commands.
Alternatively, keep your dog’s favourite toy ready and the moment it tries to eat the grass use it as a distraction.
Why do dogs eat grass? – Summary
It is fairly typical for dogs to eat some plant material. According to the researchers, plant-eating is not associated with gastrointestinal Illness but it may be inherited from their wild ancestors.
There is not proven whether plant-eating can be helpful or harmful for dogs.
If you see your dog is in the grass-eating stage, try to avoid an enclosed dog playground as you don’t want an additional risk of parasite ingestion.
Instead, find a place that is free from fecal matter.
If you notice your dog eat grass in big amounts and vomits frequently afterwards it is a good idea to visit your vet for consultation.
I hope you got all the answers and now you understand better why do dogs eat grass.
What is your experience in this topic? Do you have a canine that is ‘addicted to grass? Please drop a comment below.
Read about other weird dogs’ behaviour:
Brain Training for Dogs
Brain Training for Dogs was developed by CPDT-KA certified dog trainer Adrianne Farricelli. CPDT-KA stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed.
Adrienne lives in Arizona with her husband and two amazing Rottweilers and she is passionate about dogs. She was featured in USA Today and Every Dog magazine and also contributed to eHow and All Experts.
Her Brain Training for Dogs program helped thousands of struggling dog owners all over the world.