You’re not the first person to question why their dog is eating grass. Believe it or not this is a common behaviour and is even seen in wild dogs. To date there isn’t a general consensus on the cause. Although most vets consider grass eating normal, this behaviour can be understandably worrying. Below we explore common theories as to why your dog will eat grass and establish when there’s a cause for concern.
The eating of “strange” non-food items such as grass is known as “Pica”. Pica is associated with a variety of reasons.
1. Grass is tasty
Believe it or not, your dog may snack on grass purely because it tastes yummy. The greener and fresher the grass, the better it tastes. This is why you might see an increase in your dog eating grass in the spring and summer months. This is when the grass is all that more fresh, flavoursome and juicy.
2. Your dog is bored
Our dogs love to be entertained and would spend every waking moment playing if they could. Your dog could be eating grass when bored. This boredom could easily be alleviated by providing regular exercise and mental stimulation for your dog. This could be anything from a walk (yes, we said the W word!!) to food puzzles, indoor and outdoor play, or simply throwing a ball, toy or stick for them (they would happily do this for hours!!)
3. Remedy for a poorly stomach?
The first conclusion most pet parents make is that their dog is poorly, eating grass as a deliberate attempt to induce vomiting. It is thought that the long strands of grass tickle their throats, creating a retching reaction that causes the dog to vomit. However, evidence suggests relatively few dogs that eat grass are unwell in the first place and many won’t vomit after. Your dog’s daily diet should help support their digestive health – be mindful of added treats. We may be biased but think Scrumbles fits the bill for offering the best dog food for sensitive stomachs. Designed to be kind to tummies and to the planet, we use gut friendly ingredients like added probiotics and slippery elm.
You may have heard that your dog is eating grass to fulfil unmet fibre requirements. Snacking on the grass could be providing your dog with an additional source of fibre that they aren’t getting in their regular diet. You can easily test if this is the case. Check if the behaviour changes when you add more fibre to your dog’s diet.
5. Intestinal Worms
Studies of wolf droppings shows evidence of grass eating in 11 to 47% of the samples studied. There was some suggestion that this behaviour is driven by the need to purge the intestines of worms or parasites. Most pet dogs will be free from these parasites, but the behaviour may still be inherited from their wild ancestors.
6. Thirst quenching
This is a behaviour we’ve seen in our Smudge. After a long walk, despite being offered fresh water in her own carrier, to our horror, Smudge prefers to find a mucky puddle with which to quench her thirst. Occasional, on a misty morning she’ll turn to dewy grass, which I must admit looks very refreshing.
So is it ok for my dog to eat grass?
As a natural behaviour, if you find your dog feasting on grass, there is no reason to panic. Although of course, it is important your dog avoids any grass that may be treated with potential harmful pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. If the below circumstances apply, it is best to seek veterinary advice:
- If your dog is eating grass but not their normal food
- The grass eating is excessive
- If you dog is eating large volumes of grass regularly and vomiting it up over a period of a few hours
- If you Dog is eating grass and also appears unwell or acting out of character.