Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? A Pooch's Point of View
Written by Adaptil, published on March 24, 2023
I'll hold my paws up I do sometimes eat grass! In fact, so do a lot of my doggy friends and my ancestors used to eat grass too.
'Pica' is the term used when humans eat things that they aren't supposed to and it has the same name when dogs do it. But don't be concerned, dogs eating grass doesn't necessarily mean we are feeling poorly, or lacking in nutrition. It could simply mean that we're feeling bored, especially when practiced by puppies and younger dogs. Most vets actually consider it to be normal doggy behaviour.
Dogs are omnivores and natural scavengers, so eating vegetation as well as meat comes naturally to us but there are various schools of thought on why dogs eat grass.
If we are left unsupervised and we have access to the outdoors, we may well decide to have a good sniff around the garden. Some of us might dig up plants that have just been put in the ground, some might chew a toy, and there are those of us who might eat grass.
This is often unpopular with pet parents, so it's important we have enough physical and mental stimulation to keep us occupied while you are not around. Make sure we get plenty of walks to keep us physically fit and leave us with some puzzle feeders or toys or set up a scent trail to keep us mentally occupied while you are away.
Grass can be tasty
Newly grown grass, especially in the Spring and Summer, smells and tastes fresh, and the texture is nice too. However, it's important that you keep your dog away from any grass that may have been sprayed with chemicals, as this could be dangerous.
It helps our gut
We cannot digest grass, so another theory is that we eat grass to help our digestive system move things along a little. Grass may provide that extra bit of fibre we need in our diet.
It has also been suggested that it may be a way to help flush out parasites in our intestines (grass will wrap around the parasite, which is then removed as the grass is passed in our poop). Parasites are nasty little creatures that need to live in, or on, other animals to survive so if eating grass helps to move them through our digestive system, that sounds good to me!
It makes us vomit
It is thought that some dogs eat grass to make themselves vomit if we have eaten something that doesn't agree with us. I haven't had to do this but I can understand why humans think this as it would probably give some relief.
We are anxious
Another theory is that dogs might eat grass as a displacement behaviour when they are in a situation where they find themselves anxious (a bit like humans biting their nails). I am pleased to say that my pet parents use ADAPTIL Calm Diffuser for me which definitely helps to ease my anxiety in situations at home including alarming noises or when I'm left home alone for a while.
What some surveys have found
- 79% of dogs who had regular access to grass have eaten plants at some time in their lives. (In a 2008 survey of 1,500 dogs)
- Eating grass is unlikely to be due to dogs wanting to make themselves vomit to get rid of something they have eaten or to gain nutrients they are lacking.
- Less than 1 in 10 dogs showed signs of being ill before they ate grass, and just under 25% were regularly sick afterwards.
- 68% of dogs were reported to eat plants on a daily or weekly basis with the remainder eating plants once a month or less.
- Only 9% of dogs were reported to frequently appear ill before eating plants.
- Only 22% of dogs were reported to frequently vomit after eating grass.
- Another survey about plant-eating dogs found that grass was the most commonly eaten plant.
Other plants that dogs can eat
I love my meat-based diet, but dogs do like to munch on some plants too, as well as grass. If you want your dog to have access to 'healthy' greens, why not try growing other plants that dogs like to eat, which are also safe for us.
My pal, Dougal, nibbles at his pet parents' dill, which they grow in a small pot in the yard. It's best eaten in small amounts though.
Basil has anti-inflammatory properties and contains a high level of antioxidants. It should be given to your dog in small quantities.
Wheatgrass is said to help to keep your dog's breath fresh, control body odour, and aid digestion. It's worth having a pot handy indoors!
Just like humans, dogs need a well-balanced diet so make sure that whatever food you give us, it has all the nutrients we need. This may mean we won't look to supplement it by eating grass.
If you find that your pooch is eating grass, but not their food, or eating excessive amounts of grass, you should check with your vet for advice. There may be underlying causes that are making them want to continue eating grass.
Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.
Make sure to join our community for weekly advice from our dog behaviour experts as well as product offers and competitions.
Legal notice The information collected is intended for Ceva Santé Animale and the group in order to manage your requests. This information can be shared with service providers in order to organize their management. In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations, you have the right to access, rectify and limit the processing of your data. You can also, in certain cases, object to the processing, withdraw your consent and request the deletion and portability of your data. For any request in relation to your personal data, please visit this page.