If you've noticed your dog eats grass and thought it was odd, you're not alone! Our Seattle vets get asked about this issue quite often, and they are here to share some common reasons why dogs eat grass and when to be concerned.
Why do dogs eat grass?
Pet parents are often left confused wondering 'why is my dog eating grass?' In fact, many dogs will eat grass, vomit, and then go right back to eating grass again.
Could this imply that your dog isn't feeling well and wants to get something unpleasant out of their stomach? Have they gotten into something poisonous? Is your dog drawing attention to an undiagnosed medical condition?
Some dogs do vomit after consuming grass, but this is not the case for all. The majority of dogs consume grass without exhibiting any signs or symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Therefore, it seems improbable that dogs consume grass to induce vomiting. Why do they do it then?
Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Dogs need the right amount of fiber in their diet to keep their digestive system moving properly. After all, dogs are omnivores, so their good health depends on plants as well as high-quality meat. Eating grass may be an easy way for your dog to add roughage to their diet, helping to keep things moving through their digestive tract.
However, if your dog eats grass and exhibits symptoms of stomach upset, there may be a medical issue. There are a variety of stomach and gastrointestinal disorders that can affect dogs, including pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass and has other symptoms such as loss of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's a good idea to take him to the veterinarian for an examination.
Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Boredom and anxiety may play a role in your dog's grass-eating behavior, similar to how anxious individuals bite their nails. If your dog eats grass like there's no tomorrow but shows no signs of digestive issues, you should consider psychological causes for the behavior.
If your dog could simply be suffering from boredom, increasing the length, distance or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating.
Separation anxiety could also be the reason that your dog is eating grass. Try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog when you leave the house. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb their grass-eating habit.
Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your pooch reduce obsessive behaviors.
Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?
If your dog is otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be a safe behavior.
To help maintain the health of your grass-eating dog, ensure that no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers are present on the grass he eats.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.