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Why Does My Pup Do This: The Science Behind Why Dogs Eat Grass

If you’re out on a walk with your dog or sitting out in the back yard with your pup, you may notice him occasionally taking a nibble of the grass.

This action often leads us dog parents to question, “why does my dog do that?”

Is my dog sick?
Is he hungry?
Is my dog not getting enough nutrients?

There are a handful of scientific reasons why your dog might be making himself a little salad when you’re out and about.

Why does your dog eat grass? Here are a few possible reasons…

Reason #1 – You Dog Has an Upset Stomach

Ingesting a lot of grass will eventually lead your dog to vomit.

This behavior has been studied by various veterinarians and is believed to be a natural behavior that dogs use to self medicate when they aren’t feeling well.

Here’s the catch though…

For grass to actually induce your pup to vomit, he sometimes has to eat quite a lot of it. It can take anything up to half a stomach full of grass to make your dog throw up. So, unless your dog is really chowing down on the grass, it’s unlikely he is eating it because he feels sick.

In fact, according to the VCA pet hospitals…

“Only 10% of dogs show signs of illness prior to eating grass. The bottom line is that the majority of grass-eating dogs aren’t sick beforehand and don’t vomit afterward.”

Reason #2 – Eating Grass Fulfills a Digestive Need

A long time ago before dogs were domesticated, dogs had to hunt for their food.

Upon killing their prey, dogs would eat just about every part of the animal. This included the stomach, which was often filled with grass and other plants that herbivores eat.

The stomach was an important part of the animal to eat as the roughage provided a good source of fiber. Consuming fiber is what helps keep a dog’s digestive tract healthy.

If your dog is eating grass, he may be just instinctively doing so to help keep his digestive system healthy. As long as your dog isn’t eating grass to the point of making himself sick, a little extra roughage is a good addition to any dog’s diet.

Reason #3 – Grass Provides Your Pup with Vitamins

Not all dog foods are created equally. And, for that reason, not all dog foods have the nutrients your dog needs to thrive.

If your dog is nibbling grass, it’s possible he’s just trying to get a few extra nutrients in his diet.

If your dog’s grass-eating habit seems out of control, talk to your vet the next time you go for a visit. Ask your vet about your dog’s food to ensure he’s getting all the nutrients he needs.

It’s possible that your vet could also recommend a vitamin supplement to ensure your dog is getting the nutrition he needs!

Reason #4 – Grass is Tasty to Your Dog

Some dogs eat grass simply because they are bored, enjoy the flavor, or have developed the behavior as a nervous habit.

If your dog is calm and happy while outdoors, the reason he eats grass is likely that he’s just bored or enjoys the flavor of grass. After all, dogs explore the world in four major ways: sight, sound, smell, and taste.

If your pup just nibbles a bit of grass here and there, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

Reason #5 – Eating Grass Has Become a Nervous Habit for Your Dog

Dogs who get nervous or anxious while outside can develop some goofy habits—such as rapidly eating grass.

We’re not sure why some dogs do this, but it may be a soothing behavior for dogs, much like sucking on a pacifier is for a baby.

If your dog is nervously/anxiously channeling his nervousness through eating grass, this is a problem!

The only solution is to get your pup to calm down and relax while outside. If you’re struggling to get your pup to relax, I encourage you to check out how I’ve helped over 37,000 dogs calm down and listen when it really matters.

Should You Let Your Dog Eat Grass?

Now for the age-old question…

Should you let your dog eat grass?

Overall, I would say yes—along as eating grass isn’t an obsessive habit for your pup. A little extra roughage won’t hurt!

(If grass eating is becoming an obsessive habit, however, I would recommend using my Puppy Training program to put an end to the habit as soon as possible.)

It is also important to be aware of where your dog is eating grass. If people spray their lawns with weed killers or you live near a farm where pesticides are used, eating grass can become very dangerous for your pup!

Of course, it’s always best to talk to your vet about your pup’s grass-eating habits. He/she might better understand why your dog is eating grass and can give you helpful information that will ensure your dog remains happy and healthy!


Cheers,

 

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~Doggy Dan 🙂

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

10 Responses

  1. Thanks for sending these informative e-mails. I really enjoy them. This one especially. Both of my dogs enjoy eating grass when they go out and now I know the reason why.

  2. Why does my dog like to eat dog poo- his own and other dogs? What is the best way to get him not to do this. He is a peekapoo- very sweet disposition.

  3. My dog ended up with 2 blades of grass in her nasal passage. She began with congestion and sneezing. She was given antibiotics and and antihistamines. After the antibiotics she was the same except she was producing a large amount of dog snot and violently shaking her head. Two of my sons were over when she shook her head. One noticed snot on her nose and the other one picked her up. It was at the correct height and time for me to see one tiny green speck peeking out each nostril. I extracted blades of grass about 3 inches long. She went from miserable to feeling great. The vet said this was the third case in 15 years that she knew of and the first one that solved itself. Evidently she ate grass, threw up and the blades went up her nasal passages instead of out her mouth. I had never heard of this so I imagine many of your readers are also unaware of this side effect.

    1. Wow Kris, I have heard of grass seeds ending up in a dog’s nasal passage but not actual grass! Thanks for sharing your story, it’s great that other readers are aware that this is possible. I’m hoping she’s well and truly on the mend now. All the best, Dan

  4. My 5 m.o. goldendoodle puppynot only eats green grass, but also any kind of green, including ivy vines (not the leaves), and the leaves of day lilies (doesn’t really eat them, but chews them like a stick, breaking them in pieces). She pulls the grass out by the roots and sometimes will continue to dig in the hole she makes or other times will lay down with the clump and appear to eat it plus the dirt. I am usually able to distract her so I don’t know how much grass and dirt she actually eats and I try to take the lily leaves and ivy roots away from her. Is this pretty normal for puppies? Will she outgrow eating dirt and digging holes?

    1. Hi Margaret…young puppies can be inquisitive and curious and do like to chew on things in their environment. Distracting her with a toy is a great idea and she will likely grow out of it and start to calm down a little it with this behaviour. One thing to be aware of though is that chewing and destruction can be a sign of Separation Anxiety, mainly if it occurs when owners are away from the home. At this age though, I would say that it’s just normal puppy behaviour and to keep a close eye on what she may be ingesting. Best, Doggy Dan

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