Is your pup doing a fantastic impression of a lawnmower lately? No matter what kind of dog you have, the chances are that you have already or even frequently see them eating grass. As you will come to see, this isn’t a unique occurrence – and no, your dog is not turning into a rabbit! “But why is my dog eating grass at all?” – I hear you ask.
Chances are, your dog’s simply chowing down on grass because they like the taste or that they’re missing fibre from their diet. As it happens, the reasons our pups chew down on the cud are fairly diverse!
Keep reading, and I’ll take you through everything you need to know about dogs and grass-eating habits.
Is it really normal for dogs to eat grass?
Yes, it is normal for your dog to eat grass! While it may seem a little strange, especially if they usually have access to plenty of nutritious food, all dogs are known to eat a little wild vegetation here and there.
In some rare cases, it can signify a health issue, such as parasites or nausea. More often than not, it’s just a quirk of their behaviour and nothing to be worried about. But, I understand – seeing your pooch go to town on the lawn could set your mind racing!
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons dogs eat grass and when you should really be concerned about it.
Reasons why your dog may be eating grass
Chances are, your dog’s bored, they’re feeling sick, or they just like eating grass full stop – as weird as that sounds. But, it’s worth looking at a few concerning reasons for excessive grass consumption, too.
They’re feeling bored
Believe it or not, boredom is a very common reason dogs chew on grass. All dogs need daily mental stimulation, albeit some more than others. When they are bored, dogs tend to resort to activities that can keep them occupied, such as digging, chewing on toys (or your belongings), and even eating grass.
One way of seeing if boredom is the issue is to simply try to engage your dog more each day. Investing in interactive toys, teaching them agility tricks, taking them on new walks, playing with them more frequently – all are great ways of keeping your four-legged friend entertained, happier, and less likely to resort to the lawn for fun!
They like the taste and texture
Although we typically assume our pups are meat-eaters extraordinaire, they also need their fair share of vegetation. As you will have noticed in most leading brands, there are typically plenty of vegetables in your dog’s food. Many professionals recommend feeding them certain fruits as a treat (such as bananas and apples).
As it happens, eating grass is just a natural continuation of this taste. They seem to like the smell of grass, and the texture is nice and easy for dogs to digest.
It could well be that your pup is nibbling on a blade or two as a snack – it’s probably nothing to worry about. As long as they don’t eat too much too frequently, they are perfectly capable of digesting the vegetation.
They need fibre
Dogs have very specific dietary needs, and if they are not met, they will certainly feel the repercussions.
Many owners believe that one of the reasons that dogs eat grass is because they need fibre. If they are on a low-fibre diet, they will naturally have to find their nutrition elsewhere!
Many owners claim that their dogs stopped eating grass once they put them on a high-fibre diet.
However, that isn’t a reason for you to automatically go changing your dog’s diet. Changing it too much and/or too fast could be even more detrimental to their health.
Instead, start by speaking to your vet about your concerns. Let them know exactly what your dog eats in a day and when and how much grass they eat.
Should the vet believe that the two problems are linked, then they will be able to advise you about how to change your dog’s diet and routine. Trust me on this – go see your vet before you meddle with the menu!
They’re feeling sick
One of the most common reasons dogs eat grass is to feel sick.
It is believed that in some cases, they eat a lot of grass purposefully to make themselves vomit. They may also eat grass to help settle their tummies.
This theory also tends to be the most popular amongst dog owners, leading many of us to worry when we see it! However, research has shown that dogs do not seem to be purposefully making themselves sick in most cases – and, if they are, there will be a good reason why.
If your dog munches grass sporadically, then there really isn’t much to worry about.
However, if grass eating becomes a regular occurrence, then it is best to consult your vet before making any assumptions.
They need to get rid of parasites
Some owners also believe that dogs eat grass to get rid of parasites in their intestines. As it happens, this theory could definitely have some truth to it!
Dogs seem to be innately aware of foreign bodies in their own, complex systems – and can even sometimes detect them in us! As such, a natural means of clearing out their intestines and ridding themselves of parasites seems to be by eating grass.
Although it can be quite difficult to determine whether or not this is the case, it is worth looking through any passed grass in your dog’s poop (if you can bear it) and talking with your vet about any concerns you may have. Take solace, however, in fact it’s least likely to be parasites that are causing your dog to chow down on grass.
If you’re seriously worried about parasites and other foreign creatures causing your dog a poorly tum, always ensure you’re on top of their worming schedule.
Is it instinct for dogs to eat grass?
It is widely believed that dogs eat grass on instinct – but research is ongoing!
Eating grass is something that most canine ancestors did – and that their cousins (such as wolves, foxes, coyotes, and even jackals) – all seem to continue. Canine diets are, much like ours, dependent on a healthy balance of meat and greens.
For as long as we know, dogs have always eaten plant material such as grass – and, as mentioned, our pets seem to have a curious instinct for removing parasites, too.
Is eating grass a psychological or physical need?
The various reasons for your dog eating grass could indeed be psychological or physical.
If they are bored and eating grass, it is purely based on a psychological need to be diverted by something. That is why distracting them with another activity should stop them from eating it – whether that distraction is tasty, colourful or otherwise exciting, depends somewhat on your pup’s personality!
On the other hand, a need for fibre, feeling sick, parasites, or simply enjoying the taste of grass are all physical needs to which your dog is responding out of innate desperation.
Again – I can’t stress this enough – if you’re concerned, please make sure to take your dog to the vet.
Should I stop my dog eating grass?
Generally speaking, your dog eating grass is nothing to be concerned about. As we have seen, it is perfectly natural behaviour, and while grass doesn’t exactly have much nutritional value for them, it will not harm them either.
However, there are a few instances where you should absolutely stop your dog from eating grass.
First of all, if your dog is eating grass in your garden, then it is important to know whether or not you or a family member has used any kind of pesticide or herbicide on the lawn. Naturally, you’re going to want to keep poisons out of your dog’s digestive system!
The same goes for grass outside of your garden. Be it in a park, on a friend’s lawn, or even on a hike – you have no way of knowing how clean those blades are, or if they’ve been treated.
Another reason you should potentially stop your dog from eating grass is if they are eating it excessively. If it has reached the point where they are vomiting every day, or even multiple times a day, then take them away from the grass and straight to the vet. This could be a sign that they are in serious need of medical assistance.
But, providing your dog is eating clean grass every now and then – and under your supervision – they should be fine.
How to stop your dog eating grass
If you want to stop your dog from eating grass, then there are a few methods that you can try.
The first and (usually) easiest way to stop your dog from eating grass is to distract them. You could take them for a walk, hike somewhere new, play with them, teach them a new trick, learn agility together, play an interactive game, and so on.
The idea is to get them so focused on something new that they completely forget about the grass. This solution works best if your dog is purely eating grass out of boredom. You should be able to quickly determine whether or not that is the case based on how easily distracted they are.
For this solution to work long-term, you will need to keep up with the interactive activities with your dog – all dogs thrive on routine! This will strengthen your bond, at least!
Switch dog food brand or type
As you may know, not all dog food on the market is produced to an exceptional standard we expect of it. Filled with grain and other substitutes, they do not always satisfy our pets’ dietary needs, and can leave them in dire need of more nutrition.
One way of seeing if this is the cause of the issue is by switching dog foods to one that is higher in fibre. For the best (and healthiest) results, it is wise to consult your vet before you make the change. They will know the best dog foods to try, how much you should feed your dog, and how to change their diet without causing a shock to their system.
Take your dog to the vet
Yes – it’s the vet again! If you’ve completely exhausted all of the above and are genuinely concerned about parasites or other foreign creatures in your dog’s digestive system, it’s high time you booked in to see the vet.
You should always call your vet if your dog is eating grass compulsively. So, if they are eating it every time they go out – or are doing so after (or instead of) every meal – to the point of vomiting, it’s wise to pick up the phone.
If eating grass also causes lethargy or diarrhoea in your dog, then it is certainly best to call your vet. However, you do not have to wait for symptoms to develop before you call your vet. If you are concerned for any reason about your dog eating grass, then it is always best to talk to a professional who can help ease your mind.
The best thing that you can do for your dog is to keep a close eye on them, how frequently they eat grass, and make a note of any effects – report back to your vet for the final diagnosis with anything you find.
Why is my dog eating grass? Chances are, it’s bored – or, it likes the taste! There’s no need to worry right away – but if you are concerned, reach out to your local vet for advice. Trust me – it’s rare you’ll find a dog owner who hasn’t seen their pup munching on the green stuff every once in a while!