Does your dog eat a healthy meal then head outside and begin eating grass? Does your dog eat grass, vomit, and then keep eating grass? Here, our Los Angeles vets share some of the physical and psychological reasons dogs eat grass, and when you should be concerned about this behavior.
Why do dogs eat grass?
Concerned dog owners are often left scratching their heads wondering "why does my dog eat grass?" In fact, many dogs will eat grass, vomit, and then go right back to eating grass again.
Does this behavior mean that the dog feels that there is something in its stomach that needs to be brought up, has the dog eaten something poisonous, or is the dog self-treating some undiagnosed medical issue?
Some dogs vomit after eating grass, but not all dogs do. In fact, the majority of dogs eat grass without experiencing stomach upset before or after doing so. This suggests that dogs are unlikely to eat grass to induce vomiting. So, what motivates them?
Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Dogs, like humans, require fiber in their diets in order to have a properly functioning digestive system. Dogs, after all, are omnivores. This means that good health is dependent on both plant foods and high-quality meat. Eating grass may be a simple and seemingly tasty way for dogs to add roughage to their diet, thereby aiding in the flow of food through their gastrointestinal tract.
That said, if your dog is eating grass but also showing signs of stomach discomfort, there may be a medical problem. Dogs can suffer from a number of GI issues including gastric reflux, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass and has other symptoms such as lack of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's time to see your vet.
Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Dogs, like people who mindlessly bite their nails, will frequently eat grass out of boredom or anxiety. If your dog shows no signs of digestive problems but continues to munch on grass, consider the psychological reasons for its behavior.
If your dog seems bored, increasing the length, distance, or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating.
For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog when you leave the house. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb grass eating.
Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, it's time to see your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your dog reduce obsessive behaviors.
Is it safe for my dog to eat grass?
For dogs that are otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be safe.
To keep your grass-grazing dog healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers on the grass your dog nibbles.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.