Our dog has been eating grass a lot lately. She asks to go out and, instead of doing her usual “outdoor activities,” she’s heading directly for a patch of grass and gobbling it down! Why is she doing this?
Concerned Dog Owner in Garden Oaks
Dear Concerned Dog Owner,
What your dog is doing is not uncommon and is actually just what her ancestors did. Dogs, unlike their feline counterparts, are not carnivores. But they’re not like your garden-variety omnivores, either. For tens of thousands of years, these opportunistic scavengers have devoured anything and everything, as long as it fulfilled their basic dietary requirements.
So why do they eat grass and what can you do about it?
1. It tastes good: As natural scavengers, canines are programmed to search for nutrition anywhere they can find it. It’s possible that your dog finds the flavor or texture of grass yummy. Or it could be filling a nutritional need that her normal food isn’t, especially fiber. Try feeding your dog a food with more fiber or adding vegetables to her diet and see if that helps with the grass munching.
2. It’s entertainment: In some cases, eating grass is just something to do to pass the time. She’s got the backyard to herself, but not much to do there. Are you providing regular exercise and mental challenges for your pup? Do you notice your dog eating more grass during times when you aren’t walking or playing with her as often? Try daily exercise and adding new toys into the mix on occasion.
3. Upset tummy: When your dog has tummy troubles, she turns to grass for relief. This is more likely if the behavior starts suddenly or if your dog is very anxious about needing to eat the grass, often extending her neck and making swallowing motions, and then vomiting afterwards. But most studies have found that this is actually quite rare–less than 25 percent of dogs vomit after eating grass and only 10 percent showed signs of illness beforehand.
So, don’t worry about your dog’s grass-eating habits. As long as she’s not showing signs of illness or a nutritional deficiency, she’s probably being a totally normal dog. You may also want to buy a small tray of grass just for the dog, or start an herbal home garden. This will give your poor pooch an alternative to the outdoor grass and landscaping–the eating of which could lead to accidental ingestion of pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals that have been used to treat your (or your neighbor’s) yard.
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