Even though dogs are not strict carnivores and can digest some foods other than meats, it may seem odd that your dog is eating grass. Your dog isn’t likely eating grass just for nutritional benefits, so what’s going on?
In this article, we will explore why dogs eat grass, as well as if there are any benefits or detriments to letting your dog eat grass, so you are prepared to make a decision next time you see your dog trying to grab a bite of the green stuff.
Why do dogs eat grass?
Whether or not you decide to let your dog eat grass, you’re likely curious as to the purpose of this behavior in the first place!
A common thought is that dogs eat grass as a way to make themselves vomit if they are sick.
However, studies have found that only 10% of dogs that eat grass were sick beforehand, and only 25% of dogs who eat grass actually throw up.
These aren’t very good odds if you are eating grass to try and make yourself vomit!
So if they aren’t eating to make themselves throw up, then what? The answer still might be related to digestion.
There’s some dog owners who think that their dogs eat grass to indicate they need more fiber in their diet. In some cases, persistent grass eating has stopped when dogs have been put on a higher fiber diet, giving some weight to this theory.
It’s also possible that your dog is eating grass as a way to get rid of worms, in the hopes that the grass will help expel worms from their body. While your dog wouldn’t truly be thinking through the process in those exact words, it may just be an evolutionary learned behavior that your dog has retained.
Finally, your dog simply might just like the taste. This could be a trait unique to your dog, or even a holdover from when the ancestors of our dogs were hunting prey. Most of the animals that would be eaten by wild dogs or their ancestors are herbivores, and would typically have grass and plant material in their stomachs.
It’s possible that there’s still a desire in some dogs to eat grass, whether or not it’s in the stomach of their prey anymore.
While we don’t know the exact reason, in the end, the more important question is if it’s safe for your dog to eat grass, or if the behavior should be discouraged.
Is it safe for my dog to eat grass? Should I Let Them?
In general, yes! Your dog is welcome to enjoy munching on the occasional snack of a mouthful of blades of grass.
However, if your dog is often vomiting after eating grass, you may want to avoid letting them partake in that behavior. Frequently eating grass coupled with vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, or excessive drooling may indicate a GI problem.
If you notice additional symptoms other than eating grass, it’s best to have your dog checked out by their veterinarian. They will be able to help determine if there is another reason for your dog’s symptoms.
In addition, you’ll want to avoid letting your dog eat any grass that has been treated with harmful chemicals. While you might know the status of your yard or the yard of friends, you won’t always know if grass has been sprayed in public parks or other people’s yards.
For this reason, it’s safest to avoid letting your dog eat grass if you are unsure if it’s been treated with anything.
You’ll also want to make sure your dog only enjoys the occasional mouthful, rather than continuously eating a large amount of grass. Too much grass, or sticks, leaves, and other plant material, can cause a blockage in your dog’s intestinal tract.
However, if the grass hasn’t been treated with chemicals, you don’t see any other symptoms in your dog, and prevent them from eating large amounts of grass, it’s definitely OK to let your dog enjoy the occasional snack.
In fact, the most common plant eaten by dogs is grass! If you don’t have a yard that’s safe for dogs to eat, or just want to give your dog a fun activity, you can even consider growing a small pot of grass for your dog.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have a lot of grass around you, this can be an easy way to let your dog enjoy eating grass.
It’s also more than OK if you want to keep your dog from eating grass. While it’s not usually harmful to dogs, it’s also not necessary.
If you’d rather keep your dog from eating grass just in case, they likely won’t suffer any health problems or miss anything in their diet just because you redirect them from eating grass.
However, if you’ve been worried about this behavior, you can also rest easy knowing that grass is not often dangerous to dogs and it’s more than OK to let your dog enjoy a mouthful of grass!