Concerned pet parents often ask us why their dog eats grass, and whether it is safe. Here, our Hattiesburg and Petal vets offer some insight into why dogs eat grass and when you should be concerned.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Some dogs seem to love eating grass. In fact, many pooches will eat grass, vomit, then return to eating grass again directly after getting sick, leaving their human scratching their head and understandably concerned. They may even type "Why my dog eats grass" into their favorite search engine to see what pops up.
If your dog is dining on the grass in your local park or backyard, you may wonder if this could point to a dog feeling that there is something in their stomach that needs to be brought up, if your dog eaten something poisonous or toxic, or if the dog self-treating an undiagnosed medical condition.
While some dogs will vomit after eating grass, this is not true for all dogs. Most dogs can eat grass without displaying any signs or symptoms of stomach upset. So it seems unlikely that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Then why do they do it?
Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Like us, dogs need fiber to keep their digestive system running smoothly. After all, our pooches are omnivores and depend on both plants and high-quality meat to thrive. Eating grass may be an easy way for your pup to add roughage to their diet, which can help keep their digestive tract regular.
However, if your dog is eating grass but also exhibiting symptoms of stomach upset, there may be a medical problem that needs diagnosis and treatment. Dogs can suffer from numerous gastrointestinal and stomach issues, including conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis. If your dog is eating grass and is showing other symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, lack of appetite or decreased energy, we recommend bringing your pooch into your Hattiesburg and Petal vet for an examination.
Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Dogs will often eat grass due to boredom or anxiety in much the same way that people will bite their nails. If your dog isn't displaying any symptoms of digestive issues but munches relentlessly on grass, consider psychological reasons for their behavior.
If your dog could simply be suffering from boredom, increasing the length, distance or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating.
Separation anxiety could also be the reason that your dog is eating grass. 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 their grass-eating habit.
Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your pup reduce obsessive behaviors.
Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?
If your dog is otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be a safe behavior. Most of the time, this is not considered a veterinary medical emergency unless your dog is also exhibiting other symptoms such as severe vomiting or diarrhea (two or more episodes in 24 hours), or has consumed a toxic substance or foreign object that may have been in the grass.
To help keep your grass-nibbling pooch healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers on the grass your dog enjoys, as they can be toxic or harmful to your pet's health.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.