Have you ever let your dog outside and noticed him nibbling on grass? This is a common behavior for animals such as sheep and cows who graze in pastures. Why, then, is this something that your well-fed and well-trained dog would do? Does it mean there's something wrong and that your dog isn't getting enough nutrients, or is this completely normal? Grass eating is very common among dogs, and in this article, we're going to explore why and what it means.

IS MY DOG SICK?

Many people who spot their dog eating grass will automatically assume that something is wrong. Why else would your healthy pet resort to eating something they don't normally eat? Consuming grass is known to induce vomiting. Does this mean your dog is sick with an upset stomach and trying to eliminate something harmful they ate earlier?

Before you schedule an appointment at the vet, don't worry! Eating grass is a very common behavior for dogs. It doesn't necessarily mean that your furry friend isn't feeling well. While there may be instances where dogs will eat grass to induce vomiting when they have an upset stomach, this is usually not the case.

So why, then, would your dog be doing this?

GRAZING

Dogs enjoy snacking just as much as we do! How many times have you simply munched on something throughout the day because you were bored? This is exactly what dogs do, and because grass is usually readily available, that's what they go for! Grazing can be described as chewing or eating in little bits at a time with no harmful side effects. We all know that this is a common act for farm animals, but it's important to remember that dogs are animals, too, and this is likely an instinctual behavior.

Some have speculated that dogs may graze to make up for specific nutrients that they may be lacking in their diet. Grass actually can be a good source of fiber, and your dog may be craving some nutrients they're lacking. If your dog seems to be eating grass very frequently, it's not a bad idea to start assessing their diet and potentially discussing this with a vet. It's possible they could have a condition called pica where they may be drawn to eating things other than food, possibly to make up for a lack of nutrients.

It's also very likely that dogs simply graze because they simply like the taste and texture of grass! They may just be looking for more variety of flavors and something different other than their normal food.

CAN GRASS-EATING BE BAD FOR DOGS?

Even though eating grass may not be a sign that something is wrong with your dog, is it beneficial for them?

As stated earlier, grass can provide some additional nutrients dogs may not be receiving daily. This doesn't mean you need to start deliberately feeding grass to your pet. Instead, leave it up to your dog to munch on grass whenever he feels like he wants a bit of an extra snack and is maybe craving some of those additional nutrients.

Eating grass can be harmful to dogs, however, when it has been treated with pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that should not be ingested. It's also unhealthy for your dog to be munching in an area with poop and other waste. And of course, be sure you're not letting your dog eat in any areas with plants and seeds that are poisonous. Foxtails in particular pose a serious threat to canines, so keep an eye out in your yard or wherever you let your dog roam.

If you're typically letting your dog hang out in your fenced-in yard for extended periods, especially if you're not constantly watching him, be sure to take extra precautions to be sure he's not eating anything he shouldn't be. You'll want to consider making your yard a dog-safe space by keeping it clean and not using harsh chemicals. You may even want to dedicate a specific part of your yard to your dog so that you know he is not playing or eating grass in any areas that could threaten his health.

a lab laying by a fence in a backyard

WHEN SHOULD I WORRY?

If your dog eats grass and vomits, he is probably fine. However, if this becomes an ongoing issue, you may want to get this checked to be sure nothing more serious is happening Be sure to also pay attention if your dog starts exhibiting any out-of-the-ordinary behaviors after eating grass, such as coughing, making unusual noises, or showing signs of irritation.

Overall, you shouldn't worry too much when you spot your dog snacking on grass. While there are times when you should pay more attention to his behavior, it is typically not harmful and something very natural for dogs to do. As long as you're staying aware of what your pet is doing and how he's feeling, you should be good!

Sources:

  1. https://thebark.com/content/why-do-dogs-eat-grass
  2. https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/behavior-appearance/why-do-dogs-eat-grass
  3. https://www.webmd.com/pets/dogs/why-do-dogs-eat-grass 
  4. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-does-my-dog-eat-grass/
  5. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-do-dogs-eat-grass

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