Are you wondering why your dog is eating grass? Perhaps you are worried that something is wrong with your furry friend or are simply confused about his obsession with green shoots when out walking?
Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons and the behaviour is not as unnatural as you may think. Although dogs are known to be predominantly meat eaters they are not actually obligate carnivores, which means they can live long and happy lives without eating meat at all.
Most people prefer their dogs to eat some meat though as they certainly seem to enjoy it, yet every dog needs a diet which also contains plants. Wild and feral dogs often fulfil this need for greenery in their diet by eating some grass.
There are some basic reasons for grass eating that apply to most dogs.
Yes it’s true, some dogs eat grass for this most simple reason. They are hungry and the grass is conveiniently there. The question we really need to ask though in this case is why your dog feels hungry enough to eat grass?
Common reasons for regular hunger are internal parasites such as roundworms or tapeworms. This type of parasite takes the nutrients from any food that the dog eats leaving him hungry.
Another reason for hunger is the lack of sufficient quality and quantity of nutrients in the diet of the dog. Many dog foods, particularly low quality brands, use substandard ingredients along with poor quality vitamins.
If a dog is not getting everything that he needs from a planned diet then he will try to supplement with anything he can find in the environment.
Eating things that are not traditionally food, from the environment, for behavioural reasons alone is called pica. The dog that is bored or anxious may eat grass for something to do or because the act is triggered by something that the dog may perceive as worrying is actually quite a common occurrence.
If you suspect that your dog is eating grass for a reason other than hunger then it is important to try and work out why. When you observe your dog carefully you can recognise patterns in the behaviour and make changes to your dog’s lifestyle to make him happier.
A final reason that your dog may be eating grass is because he likes it. This is something that is often seen during the spring months when fresh green shoots appear. If this is the case or your dog has a one off grass feast, even if he is sick afterwards, there is usually nothing much to worry about. It’s a perfectly natural occasional behaviour.
Does grass make dogs throw up?
Dogs don't always throw up after eating grass, the majority show no symptoms of an upset stomach at all. It is thought by a lot of dog owners that dogs eat grass to make themselves sick, but most dogs are completely fine before eating grass which would mean it is probably the grass causing the vomiting. Some dogs may end up vomiting because of the unusual taste or texture of the grass rather than any other digestive reason.
Is eating grass bad for dogs?
Although eating grass is usually non-toxic and can do your dog no harm it is important that you keep an eye on his plant eating. Some other plants, inclusive of garden grown ones can be poisonous. Check out our plant poisoning blog post where we take a look at what plants our dogs should be avoiding.