Eating grass seems to be a natural behavior for many dogs and isn't as odd as some of the other strange stuff puppies eat. The reason behind this foraging behavior isn't entirely clear, although some dogs just seem to like it. For other dogs, though, ingesting grass may be a way to induce vomiting and ease an upset stomach. Either way, there are times when you'll want to stop your dog from eating grass and times when it's a sign that you need to call the vet.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Dogs need a balanced diet and are considered omnivores. This is one distinct difference between dogs and cats, who are natural carnivores.
Dogs can eat nearly anything, including many types of vegetables and fruits, and there are even certain types of people food that are OK for dogs to eat. But how does grass fit into this diet? For the answer, you must look at basic canine nature as well as a dog's instincts for self-healing.
Grass Tastes Good
The modern domestic dog has a rather limited diet in general, but its wild relatives continue to enjoy a diverse bounty of food. Coyotes, for example, typically eat vegetable matter found in the stomachs and intestines of prey animals. In fact, many wild canines also eat roots, grasses, and even fruit along with the meat that they kill or scavenge.
This tendency to eat plants shows up in your dog's behavior as well. It's likely that your puppy enjoys raw-plant snacks, such as lettuce, green beans, carrots, or even apple slices, from time to time. You might also find that your dog turns its nose up at raw veggies and fruits but really enjoys them cooked.
It's safe to assume that some dogs simply enjoy the flavor and texture of grass. There's also some speculation that grazing on grass may provide trace elements of vitamins that aren't in a dog's regular diet.
To Induce Vomiting
Eating grass does not always result in vomiting, but it can, especially in dogs who don't make it a regular habit. It's possible that these occasional grass eaters are using it as a natural emetic to stimulate vomiting when they feel unwell.
You might notice this if your dog is a little gassy before going outside to do its business or after it's eaten something it wasn't supposed to. Your dog's feces may also be a little runny, discolored, or not normal in some other way, and the dog may look a little down or slightly less energetic than normal.
Once outside, your dog with the gassy tummy may begin to gulp mouthfuls of grass. The long, tickling strands can naturally prompt them to "whoops" out whatever has been causing the upset stomach. When that's done, the dog often goes back to normal almost immediately and shows no other signs of illness.
Next Steps If Your Dog Eats Grass Often
Occasional grass eating isn't a cause for concern. However, there are some instances in which you'll want to stop this behavior for your dog's safety and other times when it's a sign that you need to consult your veterinarian.
- Indoor dogs may also indulge their urge to graze by nibbling houseplants. This may be dangerous or even poisonous, depending on the plant. Be sure that you are not growing any potentially poisonous plants inside or out and keep all indoor plants out of your dog's reach.
- Work on training so your dog knows that plants are not okay to eat in your home or garden. If you're patient and consistent, they should learn the difference between grass in the yard and the other plants you're growing.
- You should be cautious about letting your dog eat grass that you know has been chemically treated as it could lead to poisoning. Even if you don't use herbicides or pesticides on your lawn, your neighbor might and that could be brought into your yard by the wind, especially during application. This also applies to public areas, such as parks, where the grass may have been treated.
- Give your grass-loving pup an alternative to satiate their craving. For instance, you can provide some healthy wheat grass for your dog to munch. Pet supply stores often have grass or herb growing kits available that are safe for dogs as well.
- While eating a little grass every now and then is generally harmless, grazing on a regular basis or all of a sudden can be a sign that your dog's sick. Pay attention to its behaviors and activities so you can bring your observations up with the vet if needed.
- If your dog grazes more than two days in a row and it causes vomiting each time, this is a signal that your pup should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out a health problem. An upset tummy that becomes chronic should be diagnosed to rule out intestinal parasites like roundworms or something more serious.