Trainer Tips–Grass eating dogs

22April 2015

People often ask me about their dogs eating grass and if it is okay for them to do so.  There are many different reasons dogs eat grass, but we honestly don’t know for sure why.  Different dogs may eat grass for different reasons.  Less than 10% of dogs who eat grass showed symptoms of being ill before doing so, and less than 25% of dogs vomit grass back up after eating it.  Below is a list of possible reasons your dog may eat grass.

Grass is tasty:

Dogs are scavengers by nature and are therefore programmed to search for possible nutrition anywhere they can find it.  It is very possible (and likely) that your dog happens to find the texture or flavor of the grass tasty.  

Missing something in their diet:

Dogs may also eat grass because they are missing something in their regular diet.  If your dog’s nutritional needs are not being properly fulfilled, he may try and substitute his diet with some grass.  If you think this may be the case for your dog, try switching to a high-fiber dog food.
Learn how to pick the perfect food for your dog here.

Your Dog is Bored:
In some cases, a dog may engage in grass munching simply because he is bored.  Be sure that your dog is getting regular daily exercise.  It is also important to be sure your dog is being mentally challenged and stimulated.  Engage your pup in some training activities or buy him an interactive dog toy.  Sometimes if you simply provide your dog with a proper toy or chew bone, they will stop eating grass.

Your Dog is Thirsty:

You may also notice when you hike or play fetch with your dog they may have the urge to eat grass.  This may be because they are thirsty and there is no water currently available to drink.  Simply giving your dog water at this time may curb the grass eating.  My dogs often munch on grass in between games of fetch or when we are out hiking.

Stomach Distress:

Some vets will tell you that a dog eating grass is a sign of self-medication, usually due to an upset stomach.  If the behavior started suddenly, this may be the case for your dog.  In some cases this may be a sign of something more serious.  If your dog continues to eat grass and vomit it back up, you should contact your vet.

Time of Year:

Many dogs who do not eat grass often or at all may do so only during certain times of the year.  This happens most often in Spring, when the grass is more likely to be new, making it taste somewhat more sweet to your dog.  If this is something your dog does, I would not worry.  Or if your dog eats grass only sometimes but really goes for it a few times a year, this is probably what is happening.  Again, probably not anything to worry about (unless the dog consistently vomits it back up).

Should I be worried?
For most dogs eating grass is a very normal behavior.  If it is something your dog does on a semi-regular basis or during the Spring, it is not something I would worry about.  If, however, your dog eats grass and vomits it back up over more than one day, I would recommend talking to your vet.

All three of our dogs eat grass on a semi-regular basis and do tend to go a little extra crazy for it during certain times of the year.  This is normal behavior for them and they do not have any issues.