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10 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass (Vet Answer)

Dog eating grass

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

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It is fairly common to hear concerns from dog owners because their dogs are eating grass. Especially because some of them will vomit after eating the grass. But what is the reason behind this behavior? While there is still not a one size fits all answer to this question, we do have some hypotheses and the reasons behind the behavior might change from case to case.

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Top 10 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass:

1. Learning from their environment

In the case of puppies, they learn about their surroundings by tasting everything, grass is one of the multiple plants a puppy will eat to learn about the different components from the environment they live in.

small dog smelling nag eating grass
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

2. Sensory stimulation

It can be possible too that the dogs are attracted to the smell, the feel, and the taste of the grass. The sensory stimulation provided by the grass (and other plants) makes it attractive to dogs.


3. Fiber

Dogs are not carnivore animals and while their diet includes meat, they also consume plants. To maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system, dogs need a certain amount of fiber. One of the possible reasons why a dog might be ingesting grass is that it is trying to add some fiber to its diet. Just as in the case of humans, fiber “keeps the pipes moving”. There is a report of a miniature poodle who stopped a seven-year habit of eating and vomiting grass and other plants only 3 days after the owner changed his diet to a high fiber diet.

two dachshunds eating grass
Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

4. Micronutrients

Dogs are classified under the order Carnivora, however, they are not strictly carnivorous, they do eat some plants here and there to match their nutritional needs. Modern dogs obtain animal-based protein from food, however, their ancestors hunted and, in many cases, hunted herbivorous animals together with their plant-filled bellies. Studies on modern wolves’ fecal matter found that up to 47% of them ingest grass. Grass micronutrient content depends largely on the soil it grows in.


5. Parasites

Another hypothesis is that dogs eat grass to help them get rid of intestinal parasites, however, it is contradictory since dogs might get parasite infested after eating parasite eggs from the grass and soil.

shetland sheepdog eating grass
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

6. To induce vomiting

Researchers from The School of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California Davis conducted a survey, and it turns out that around 22% of the dogs that eat grass vomit it afterward. According to their results, there seems to be a correlation between subclinical gastrointestinal upset and grassing with the specific intention to vomit.

They also discovered that dogs showing signs of illness before grassing were much more likely to vomit after grassing than healthy-looking dogs. However, they state that grass eating is a normal behavior in dogs and most dogs do not vomit after ingesting grass.


7. Boredom

Your dog may be just trying to pass time, like any other living creature; dogs need mental and physical stimulation. Their ancestors spent time hunting prey, but they have ‘ready prep food delivery” for free every single day. With some spare time in their paws, dogs will find diverse ways to keep themselves busy throughout the day.

bored dog eating grass
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

8. Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety have a higher tendency to develop pica, the medical term for the aberrant behavior of ingesting non-food objects. In this case, eating grass is not as bad as eating a sock or a shoe.


9. Stress

Just as in the case of anxiety, dogs under stressful conditions such as when they suffer dominance from other dogs or are hungry or any of their basic needs are not met, can develop pica.

Siberian husky lying on the ground eating grass
Image Credit: Yuriy Koronovskiy, Shutterstock

10. Simply because they like it

As stated by the results of the researchers from The School of Veterinary Medicine from The University of California’s survey, grassing is a normal behavior in dogs and most dogs with access to grass will eat it.

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Conclusion

Whether it is from any of the causes listed previously or simply because they like it, if your dog likes grassing it is important to provide him with grass that is free from harmful chemicals such as insecticides or fertilizers.  If the causes are boredom, try to spend more time engaging in play with your dog. If the cause is the stress of anxiety, please consult a dog trainer or behaviorist to go over the specifics of your dog’s case they will advise you on several ways to help your dog deal with his psychological issues.


Featured Image Credit: B Pet Photography, Shutterstock

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