There is no clear scientific research to explain why dogs eat grass, but it is perfectly normal behaviour.
Dogs eating grass can often be attributed to a behaviour known as pica. Pica is a term used to describe the consumption of non-food items or substances by animals, including humans. It is considered a compulsive behaviour where animals exhibit a strong desire to eat things that are not typically part of their diet. While the exact reason behind why dogs engage in grass-eating behavior is not fully understood, it is believed to be a natural instinct to fulfill certain nutritional needs or to alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort.
"Dogs eating grass can seem like a natural instinct, trickled down from their ancient ancestors who consumed plant matter as a part of their diet. However, millennia later, dogs live in homes, sleep on our sofas, but continue to eat grass; causing us humans to wonder about the reason why dogs eat grass."
If you find yourself observing your dog munching on grass, you may have a myriad of questions. Fortunately, we have undertaken the research to provide you with answers.
Table of Contents
- Is it normal for dogs to eat grass
- Do dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach?
- Can eating grass help with a dog’s digestion?
- Do dogs eat grass to supplement a nutritional deficiency?
- Do dogs enjoy the taste and texture of grass?
- Do dogs eat grass because they are bored?
- Do dogs eat grass because they are unwell or feeling sick?
- Do dogs eat grass because they are hungry?
- Do dogs eat grass because they are thirsty?
- How can I prevent my dog from eating grass?
- Are there any health risks associated with dogs eating grass?
- Why do dogs eat grass and vomit?
- Why does my dog vomit yellow foam after eating grass?
- Are there any safe alternatives to grass for dogs to chew on?
Yes, it is considered normal for dogs to eat grass.
Dogs and puppies eating grass is incredibly common and many dogs engage in this behaviour at some point in their lives. Grass eating does not necessarily indicate any serious health problems. However, if it becomes excessive or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.
Not always, no.
It is often assumed that dogs eat grass when they are feeling poorly, but many professionals dispute this idea on the basis that dogs are not proven to be intelligent enough to try and treat their upset stomach by eating grass.
According to research, most dogs that eat grass are not unwell beforehand, or at least they don’t seem to be. In fact, a study conducted by Pets Web MD found that fewer than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass, while less than 25% of dogs that eat grass vomit regularly after grazing.
There is no evidence to suggest that eating grass helps dogs to digest their food.
Grass does contain dietary fibre, leading some experts to believe that grass consumption can aid in digestion and promote healthy bowel movements, but there is limited scientific evidence to support this claim. Alongside the reasons we’ve already covered, some dogs simply enjoy the taste and texture of grass, leading them to eat it without any specific purpose or need.
Some dogs can eat grass if they are feeling hungry and food is not readily available for them. If it has been raining, dogs will sometimes eat or lick the grass for moisture if they don’t have access to fresh water.
There is no scientific evidence that dogs eat grass as a nutritional supplement.
The relationship between eating grass and nutritional deficiency in dogs is not well-established. While some dogs may eat grass to supplement their diet with certain nutrients, it does not necessarily indicate a nutritional deficiency.
Dogs have complex dietary needs that are typically met through a balanced and appropriate diet. However, individual dietary requirements can vary depending on factors such as age, breed, activity level, and overall health.
Grass contains certain nutrients, such as fibre, that can be beneficial for dogs. Some dogs may eat grass to supplement their diet if they feel deficient in these nutrients.
Anecdotally, customers tell us about their dogs that have been eating grass regularly but once they switch to a higher quality food (whether ours or another brand), the grass eating stops which suggests something was missing from the previous diet.
Dragonfly Dry Dog Food has a high meat content and balanced natural fibre – it may be worth trying a sample pack or two to see what your dog thinks.
Grass species can vary in taste, texture, and smell, but it's challenging to determine how dogs perceive these differences. While some dogs may appear to enjoy the taste and texture, others may simply tolerate it or find it uninteresting.
It's worth noting that dogs may have individual preferences when it comes to the taste and texture of grass. Some dogs may show a preference for certain types of grass over others, but this can vary from dog to dog. Additionally, dogs' taste preferences may be influenced by factors such as their diet, overall health, and individual sensitivities.
Boredom can be one of the reasons why some dogs eat grass, but it's not the sole explanation. Dogs engage in various behaviours when they're bored, and eating grass may be one way to alleviate their boredom or provide mental stimulation.
Dogs are naturally curious and exploratory animals. If they don't have enough physical exercise, mental stimulation, or interactive play, they may resort to alternative behaviours to occupy themselves. This can include chewing on objects, digging, or eating grass.
"Eating grass might be seen as a form of environmental enrichment for some dogs. It gives them something to investigate, chew on, and engage with. It can momentarily relieve their boredom by providing a different texture and taste sensation."
Not always, but there are theories that dogs do this instinctively.
Some dogs may eat grass as a response to feeling unwell or experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort. Some theories suggest that dogs instinctively eat grass to induce vomiting and alleviate symptoms of an upset stomach. By consuming grass, they may be attempting to remove something that is causing them discomfort or attempting to trigger vomiting to relieve nausea.
No, if your dog is regularly fed and nutritionally fulfilled.
While hunger is generally not considered the primary reason why dogs eat grass, it can be a contributing factor in some cases. Dogs typically have a well-balanced diet that provides them with the necessary nutrients, so they shouldn't rely on grass as a primary food source.
If there is no other water source it is likely that your dog will eat grass for hydration.
While dogs may drink water when they are thirsty, eating grass is not typically a behaviour associated with quenching thirst. Dogs are more likely to seek out water sources directly when they are in need of hydration.
Grass eating can be difficult to prevent entirely, however here are some ideas that may be useful:
- Environmental management: Create a dog-friendly space in your garden where grass consumption is limited or controlled. Use barriers, fencing, or designated play areas to restrict access to grassy areas if necessary.
- Distraction and redirection: Engage your dog in interactive play or provide chew toys and puzzle feeders to redirect their attention and energy away from grass.
- Increase mental and physical stimulation: Provide regular exercise, playtime, and mental enrichment activities to keep your dog mentally and physically engaged. Boredom and pent-up energy can contribute to grass eating behaviour.
- Train the "Leave It" command: Train your dog to respond to the "Leave It" command. This can help redirect their attention away from grass when necessary. Couple this with some high-value dog treats and you may be able to retrain the grass eating behaviour.
The health risks associated with grass eating is relatively low, however, there are some things to consider when monitoring this behaviour in your dog:
- Pesticides and chemicals: Grass treated with pesticides, fertilisers, or other chemicals can pose a risk if ingested by dogs. These substances may be toxic and cause adverse effects. It is important to keep your dog away from chemically treated areas.
- Toxic plants: Some plants commonly found in lawns or around gardens can be toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests toxic plants while eating grass, it can lead to various health issues, ranging from mild gastrointestinal upset to more severe toxicity. Common toxic garden plants include: Daffodils, Tulips, Foxgloves, Azaleas and Rhododendrons.
- Intestinal blockage: Occasionally, dogs may swallow grass in large quantities, leading to the formation of clumps or strands in their stomach or intestines. This can potentially cause intestinal blockage or obstructions, requiring veterinary intervention.
- Contamination or parasites: Grass found in public areas or places frequented by other animals, slugs and snails can be contaminated with faeces or parasites, including bacteria, viruses, or intestinal worms. Ingesting contaminated grass may lead to gastrointestinal infections or intestinal worm infestations.
If your dog eats grass on a regular basis, it would be wise to carry out a regular worm count test to ensure they haven’t ingested any parasites whilst eating their greens!
If your dog occasionally vomits after eating grass, it is generally not a cause for immediate concern. Many dogs eat grass from time to time and may vomit as a result.
- Inducing vomiting: Dogs may instinctively eat grass to induce vomiting if they have an upset stomach or need to expel something that is causing them discomfort.
- Irritation: Some types of grass can irritate a dog's digestive system, leading to vomiting as a protective mechanism.
- Ingesting non-edible substances: If a dog ingests non-edible substances along with the grass, such as toxic plants or foreign objects, vomiting may occur as the body tries to eliminate them.
If your dog is excessively eating grass and vomiting, it would be prudent to consult your vet to rule out any serious underlying issues.
Vomiting yellow foam after eating grass is a relatively common occurrence in dogs and can have several possible explanations:
- Indigestion: Eating grass can cause irritation to a dog's stomach, leading to vomiting. When grass is ingested, it may not be easily digestible, and the dog's body may attempt to expel it through vomiting.
- Gastrointestinal upset: Grass consumption, especially in large amounts, can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs. This can lead to increased stomach acid production and subsequent vomiting of yellow foam.
- Hairballs: If your dog also ingests a significant amount of hair while chewing on grass, it can contribute to the formation of hairballs in the stomach. This can lead to vomiting, which may include yellow foam.
- Bile: In some cases, when a dog vomits yellow foam, it may be due to the presence of bile. Bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When a dog vomits on an empty stomach or the stomach is irritated, bile may be expelled, resulting in the yellow colour.
- Hunger: Sometimes when dogs are feeling hungry they vomit yellow bile. This is a phenomenen known as the 'hunger pukes' and can be cured by offering a small treat before walks or bedtime and may be a reason your dog is eating grass.
I hope this gives you some ideas on dealing with your grass eating pooch!
With Woofs and Wags,
Laura, Dolly & Reggie