Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Julia Henriques
why do dogs eat grass

You might wonder ... why do dogs eat grass? Especially when you’re standing there, in the middle of a walk, while your dog contentedly chews away at overgrown tufts of grass.

Dogs eating grass is quite common and it’s perfectly normal. But rest assured, you're not alone in wondering why is my dog eating grass?

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Why dogs eat grass is a puzzling question. While there isn't a definitive answer, there are several theories. Here are 6 possible reasons why dogs eat grass:

1. Digestive Aid: One reason for dogs to eat grass is to soothe an upset stomach or induce vomiting. Grass acts is a natural emetic and helps to eliminate unwanted substances, help remove undigested food or ease the digestion process.

2. Nutritional Deficiency: Some experts believe dogs may seek out grass as a source of additional fiber or nutrients. In the wild, canines would consume the stomach contents of their prey, which often includes plant matter. Eating grass may be an instinctual behavior to supplement their diet. 

3. Boredom Or Anxiety: Dogs may eat grass out of sheer boredom or as a coping mechanism for anxiety. If a dog doesn’t get enough mental and physical stimulation, he may resort to grazing on grass to occupy himself.

4. Natural Instinct: Canines are descendants of wolves, who would occasionally consume grass in the wild. This ancestral behavior may still be present in domesticated dogs, even if their nutritional needs are being met.

5. Taste: Some dogs simply find grass tasty. They may like the smell, texture and flavor so they munch on it as a form of sensory enjoyment.

Is It Okay For Dogs To Eat Grass?

Yes. Grass isn’t harmful and generally passes through the digestive system without a problem.  But read about some cautions below, depending on where your dog is getting his grassy snack!

Is it Bad for Dogs to Eat Grass?

No, it’s not. It’s quite safe for dogs to eat grass but there are some cautions to be aware of:  

  • Pesticides And Herbicides: Grass that’s been sprayed with chemicals is toxic and can lead to gastrointestinal upset, neurological issues, or even organ damage or other long term health issues.
  • Bowel Obstruction: Although rare, if a dog eats long strands or large amounts of grass, it can become tangled and cause a blockage in the digestive system.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some dogs may be allergic or sensitive to certain types of grass or pollen. You may notice itching, skin rashes, sneezing or breathing difficulty.
  • Contamination: Grass found in public areas, such as parks or sidewalks, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria, parasites, or toxins from animal feces, and may be sprayed with chemicals (as noted earlier). 
  • Inability To Digest: Although grass is generally non-toxic, it can be difficult for dogs to digest due to its high fiber content. If your dog eats a large amount of grass, it may cause digestive upset, including diarrhea or constipation.

What Nutrients Do Dogs Get From Eating Grass?

Grass isn’t a main source of essential nutrients for dogs, but there are a few benefits:

  • Dietary Fiber: Grass contains fiber to aid digestion and support healthy bowel movements. For this reason you might see grass come out as it went in.
  • Phytonutrients: Grass contains phytonutrients such as antioxidants, flavonoids and chlorophyll that can reduce inflammation and support cellular health.
  • Trace Minerals: Grass provides trace minerals like manganese, calcium, and potassium.
  • Promotes Vomiting: If a dog has an upset stomach or wants to induce vomiting he can eat grass and throw up whatever is causing the problem in his stomach. 

RELATED: What to feed a dog with an upset stomach ...

Is There A Substitute For A Dog Eating Grass?

If you want to discourage your dog from eating grass, here’s what you can do:

  • Ensure that your dog is eating a balanced diet of fresh whole foods to provide all the necessary nutrients he needs. 
  • Offer your dog a recreational bone for chewing, or safe chew toys.
  • If your dog is eating grass due to boredom or anxiety, make sure he gets enough exercise and mental stimulation to redirect his focus. 
  • Use it as an opportunity to teach your dog a "leave it" or "drop it" cue, which can help discourage him from eating grass.

Foods To Substitute For Grass

If you're looking for alternatives to satisfy your dog's desire to eat grass, here are some foods you can give him:

  • Leafy Greens: Add leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, or lettuce to your dog's meals. These greens provide a similar texture and some of the nutritional benefits of grass.
  • Vegetables: Give your dog cooked or lightly steamed vegetables such as carrots, green beans or broccoli as healthy and fiber-rich substitutes.
  • Fruits: Fruits like apples or blueberries or bananas can make great treats. They offer natural sweetness and can be a satisfying alternative to grass. You can also give them as frozen treats.

Eating grass has a practical purpose for some dogs. 

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass and Throw Up?

It's not uncommon for dogs to vomit after eating grass. As mentioned earlier, one theory suggests that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting when they have an upset stomach. This regurgitation can help them expel unwanted substances from their digestive system.

RELATED: Why is your dog vomiting yellow bile?

How Long After Eating Grass Will A Dog Vomit?

Some dogs eating grass may vomit immediately after, while others may take several hours before showing any signs of vomiting. The duration of a dog eating grass and throwing up may depend on what’s causing the need to vomit and how much grass he ate.

Why Don't All Dogs Throw Up After Eating Grass?

Not all dogs vomit after eating grass. Some dogs may have a stronger digestive system, which allows them to process grass better. Others may not consume enough grass to cause vomiting.

It's generally safe for dogs to eat grass, but like everything your dog does, it’s important to monitor his behavior and ensure the grass is free from harmful substances. 

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