Dog eating grass

Key takeaway

Dogs eat grass for several reasons, including boredom, enjoyment, instincts, dietary needs, and more. In many cases, eating grass isn’t dangerous, but it might be something you want to prevent, especially since grass can be treated with toxic chemicals.

Dogs love spending time outside. Whether it's going on walks, playing in the yard, or standing while sniffing the air, your dog can't get enough of what nature has to offer. Unfortunately, sometimes nature isn't always healthy for your dog. If you've ever noticed your dog went from sniffing the grass to eating it, you're not alone. Many dogs eat grass, and this common behavior can be due to several reasons, including everything from boredom to hunger. It's a common myth that dogs eat grass only when they have an upset stomach.

Fortunately, most dogs don't throw up after eating grass, and this behavior alone is not usually cause for alarm.

This article will discuss why dogs eat grass, why some dogs eat grass and vomit, and how you can prevent your dog from munching on grass during your next walk.

List of reasons dogs eat grass

5 Reasons Dogs Eat Grass

As we've already mentioned, your dog could be eating grass for several reasons. Maybe they like the way it tastes, or they're simply bored. Here are the most common reasons why your dog eats grass.

1. Dietary Needs

Sometimes humans think they're craving chocolate when their bodies simply crave proper nutrition, such as a sugary fruit like an apple. Grass might seem strange for a dog to eat, but it has some dietary benefits, including carbs, protein, and fiber. Your dog could be craving grass because they need more nutrients in their diet.

If you notice your dog eating grass more than usual, consult your vet about their current diet and see if they lack any important nutrients.

2. Boredom

Dogs have a natural urge to chew, and your dog will chew to keep boredom at bay. If you see your dog chewing grass outside, they might have gotten bored and decided to start chewing. You can prevent your dog from getting bored by giving them lots of physical and mental exercise. For example, you can take your dog on a walk, play with them in the yard, or give them a treat-dispensing toy or puzzle to keep them focused.

Boredom in dogs creates unwanted behavior, including chewing things that shouldn't be chewed and eating grass.

3. Natural Instinct

Think about where dogs come from. Even though they've been domesticated, many dogs still have their instincts. As natural scavengers, your dog might eat grass instinctively, or they might be looking for other food, such as berries, that have fallen into the grass.1

If your dog is eating grass due to their natural instinct, there's no reason to try to stop them unless they continue to throw up from eating grass. However, if your dog won't stop eating grass or come when called, you can try to train them not to eat grass by working with them while you're outside together.

4. Pica

Pica is a medical condition that pets and humans can have. A dog with pica craves non-food items that don't provide nutritional value.1 For example, your dog might eat pieces of furniture or blankets. While grass is slightly more nutritious than your blankets at home, it still offers little nutritional value compared to a well-balanced diet.

If you notice your dog is eating non-food items around your home and likes to nibble on the grass outside, talk to a vet about managing and treating pica. Treatment of pica may involve treating an underlying cause of the issue, such as anxiety, that may contribute to your dog's need to feed on non-nutritional household items.

5. Enjoyment

Dogs have a different definition of fun from yours. Your dog might chew grass because they like the way it tastes and feels against their teeth and gums. As long as the grass isn't treated with dangerous chemicals, eating it won't be dangerous for your dog's health. Ultimately, grass can be considered tasty to your dog, especially when it's new spring grass and comes with all the new spring smells that your dog loves so much.1 If your dog is only eating grass for enjoyment, you may notice they stop eating grass towards the end of summer.

Fewer than 25% of dogs regularly vomit after eating grass

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass And Vomit?

Many people mistakenly believe that dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach or intestinal worms to force themselves to vomit and, in turn, feel better. However, there is little scientific evidence to support this theory. Additionally, many dogs don't throw up after eating grass or display any signs of gastrointestinal distress before, during, or after eating grass.2

A recent study demonstrated that only 22% of dogs vomit after eating grass, so while grass eating is a normal dog behavior, dogs likely aren't eating grass due to an upset stomach.3 Of course, more research is needed, but most pet parents anecdotally report their pets do not vomit after eating grass.

Of course, there are some reasons why your dog may eat grass and vomit. While it is possible grass may be soothing to an upset stomach, it can also cause vomiting if the dog accidentally ingests parasites from grass, such as hookworms that were leftover from another animal's feces. Additionally, the grass can be treated with toxic chemicals. It's your dog's natural response to get rid of anything that could make them sick, and vomiting is just one way to help your dog get rid of something that's not good for their bodies.

Additionally, many dogs have sensitive stomachs. Therefore, eating too much of anything, including grass, too quickly could cause stomach upset, resulting in vomiting.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Grass

While you may know that the grass at your home is fairly safe and isn't treated with chemicals, you don't want your dog learning that eating grass is an approved behavior because they'll think it's okay to eat grass wherever they are. Instead, it's always best to prevent your dog from eating grass so they don't accidentally ingest a toxin. Here are tips to prevent your dog from eating grass on walks or in the yard.

  1. Lean in on obedience training techniques such as "leave it" or "look at me" when you notice your dog eating grass.
  2. Supervise your dog outside.
  3. Adjust feeding routine/diet with the help of your vet.
  4. Provide safe chew toys as alternatives.
  5. Talk to your vet about potential health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I let my dog eat grass?

If your dog is relatively healthy and appears to enjoy eating grass for fun, it's okay to let them do so. However, if they start eating in big gulps and obsessively chew grass whenever they're outside, talk to your vet about what could be causing them to crave non-food items. Additionally, you may choose to train your dog not to eat grass since not all grass is safe to eat, and some could be treated with dangerous chemicals.

Does a dog eating grass mean anything?

A dog eating grass could indicate many things since dogs eat grass for several reasons, including satisfying their natural instincts, boredom, enjoyment, and more. Unfortunately, many people believe dogs only eat grass when they have an upset stomach, but that simply isn't true.

Do dogs eat grass to settle their stomach?

Grass might act as an antacid for upset stomachs in dogs, but studies have proven that dogs don't typically vomit after eating grass.

Why is my dog eating grass but not his food?

There are many reasons why your dog might eat things other than their food. For example, your dog could be eating grass but not dog food because they have an aversion to their food, or they're suffering from pica or even anxiety. If your dog isn't eating their food, consult a vet.

Do dogs eat grass when they're in pain?

Eating grass may help soothe an upset stomach or help your dog feel full if they're hungry, but it has no pain-relieving qualities. If your dog is in any type of pain, talk to a vet as soon as possible.

Dog eating patch of grass

Final Notes

Many people believe that dogs eat grass to soothe an upset stomach, but that simply isn't the case. In many cases, dogs chew on grass because it's tasty and they're bored. By giving your dog something else to do, they won't feel the need to chew on grass. Additionally, it's important to ensure your dog is eating nutritious food and getting all of the nutrients through their regular diet. While grass isn't high in nutrients, it does have some nutritional value that may make your dog crave it.

If your dog throws up after eating grass, try not to panic. Vomiting after eating grass is fairly common in dogs, but many dogs eat grass and don't vomit. If your dog throws up after eating grass, ensure they have water so they can rehydrate. Then, keep an eye on your dog to ensure they're not experiencing any stomach problems. Vomiting is typically a sign that your dog is unwell, but it's usually not a medical emergency if they only vomit once. However, if your dog continues to vomit or has diarrhea, it's best to consult a vet. A vet can help you determine the cause of your dog's vomiting so they can treat it effectively.

Treating the reason why your dog is eating grass is the best way to prevent it. For example, many dogs eat grass out of boredom, so the best way to get them to stop is to give them something fun to do. Additionally, dogs can eat non-food items because they're anxious and don't know what to do with themselves, so you may need to treat underlying anxiety problems to prevent your dog from eating grass in the future.

No matter the cause of your dog eating grass and vomiting up, Dutch can help. With a Dutch licensed veterinarian, you can uncover why your dog is eating grass and treat any problems that might contribute to excessive grass-eating or vomiting. In addition, with Dutch televet services, you don't have to worry about packing up an anxious pup to go to the vet; instead, you can talk to one of our licensed veterinarians in the comfort of your own home.

References

  1. Meyers, Harriet. “Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 8 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/advice/why-does-my-dog-eat-grass/#:~:text=Eating%20grass%20could%20also%20be,higher%2Dfiber%20content%20may%20help.

  2. Parker, Hilary. “Why Dogs Eat Grass: Causes and Prevention.” WebMD, WebMD, https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/why-do-dogs-eat-grass.

  3. Sueda, Karen Lynn Chieko, et al. “Characterisation of Plant Eating in Dogs.” UC Davis, Elsevier, 1 May 2008, https://ucdavis.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/characterisation-of-plant-eating-in-dogs.