Why do dogs eat grass? 

As a pet owner, you feed your dog with nutritious foods to grow healthy and happy. Despite feeding all possible diets, why does your dog tend to eat grass? This is one of the few questions that pet owners often ask from vets during a consultation. 

While no one is precisely sure why do canines eat grass, pet experts see it as a normal behavior of pets with nothing to worry about. Dogs like other animals share a survival trait and has an ability to self medicate. Eating grass can be one of the acts by dogs to treat themselves of inflamed stomach or other digestive issues. The science of animal self-medication is called zoopharmacognosy.1

What can be reasons for dog eating grass?

Some of the reasons why dogs eat grass can be:

  • Instinctive behavior: Dogs are scavengers by nature. In previous days dogs used to hunt animals for their dietary needs but they also used to eat grass and plants. This can be proved by examining stool sample of wolves which constitute approximately 11-47% of plant based residual. Dogs nearest relatives in animal kingdom are wolves, grass grazing comes instinctively to dogs.
  • To induce vomiting: It can be a deliberate attempt by dogs to induce vomiting to get relief from stomach upset and indigestion. Eating grass without properly chewing tickles the throat that stimulates vomiting. Thus, it may seem a normal behavior for pets to throw away unwanted things. 
  • Diet deficiency: Dogs daily diet may not be providing sufficient vitamins, nutrients, or minerals. To fulfill missing vitamins and nutrients in their diet, dogs can eat grass for its nutritional value.2
  • Digestive issues:  If dogs show swallowing behaviour, then rush out to outdoors to eat grass and then vomits after eating grass, it can be linked to stomach inflammation or inflammatory bowel syndrome.
  • Psychological behaviour: Dogs many times eat grass compulsively due to boredom or anxiety. Just like we at times compulsively bite nails, dogs may also compulsively eat grass and can be declared as a psychological behaviour of a dog.

What is nutritional value of grass for animals?

Grass contain different quantities of fibre, nutrients, lignin, minerals and protein, and vary in the proportion of their tissue that can be digested by animals. Nutrition value of grass is determined by climate in which they grow in. Grass and plants which grow in arid areas differ from grass and plants which grow in temperate and tundra regions. The amount of fibre contained within grass and plant material ranges between 23–90%, protein by 2–36%, lignin by 1–21% and minerals by 2–22%.3

Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?

The instinctive behavior of eating grass is mostly thought safe by pet experts and doctors. But, pet owners need to keep a careful eye on the type of grass that dogs are eating. Grazing on the grass treated with fertilizers or pesticides is never a good idea. Observe the pet’s reaction after eating the green before taking suitable action. 

How do I stop my dog from eating grass?

To stop your dog from eating grass, we must know what is causing this behaviour.

Following are the ways you can stop your dog from eating grass:

There are a few steps you can take to curb this habit if your dog eating grass is concerning you. As stated above, this behavior may result from the nutritional deficiency in dogs who try to meet the unmet nutrients. Change the foods of your dogs after consulting with a pet specialist. Upset stomach is another reason that leads to this habit. Consult with a qualified vet online to get a list of excellent foods that do not cause any digestion problem in pets. Taking these steps, you may curb the grass eating habit of your pet gradually. 

Should you consult a veterinary doctor for grass eating?

A dog that eats grass and vomits may be considered showing an instinctive behavior. It should not be a cause of concern for you. However, if the grass grazing behavior is continuous, it may be some other underlying problem. Take your pet immediately to vet for a clinical examination and diagnosis of problems. In this way, you can maintain the health of your pets.