If you have questions about your dog eating grass, this article will be an excellent resource. I’ll share with you why dogs eat grass, if you should let your dog eat grass on walks, and if so, how much!
If your dog is trying to eat grass, it’s because the canine lacks fiber in their diet. They might be trying to chew on grass to digest their food and even pass a stool. It could also be to soothe anxiety or boredom. If the grass isn’t covered in pesticides or chemicals, it’s okay to eat.
Is It Okay to Let My Dog Eat Grass on Walks?
In most instances, it’s a perfectly acceptable habit.
For some dogs, it’s merely a passing interest in the grass, while for others, they tug forcefully on their leash so they can sniff the grass and hopefully swallow a large mouthful.
As I’ll discuss in the next section, dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons (some of which you may find surprising!).
If you can, steer your dog toward grass that you know is safe, i.e., free of chemicals and parasites. I’ll talk a little later about how to find safe areas of grass, so don’t miss that.
Let them take a nibble, then continue your walk. Hopefully, that should quell any need for the rest of the walk for your dog to constantly yank you over to a patch of grass to have a snack.
Be sure to monitor your dog for any signs of an upset stomach or any adverse effects after eating grass.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass, Anyway?
So what it is that motivates a dog to eat grass? Is it simply being outside when they’re usually cooped up that does it?
Well, as I alluded to before, I think some of the reasons may surprise you, as they include both health and psychological motivators. Let’s take a look.
To Aid Digestion
What is grass? It’s roughage, and as roughage, it contains fiber.
When you’re having a hard time digesting food or passing stools, you reach for products like Metamucil to add fiber to your diet.
Well, your dog can’t exactly do the same since they don’t have opposable thumbs (although Metamucil would be okay for them to take with their vet’s approval), so they go the natural route and eat grass.
Introducing fiber in their diet can finally help them with their sluggish digestion so they can poop and feel better.
To Fulfill a Scavenging Need
Although your dog will never know what that life is like, there was indeed a time when dogs were wild and only had the land to live off of.
According to a 2014 report in Psychology Today, it’s believed that wolves frequently ate grass, due to grass being found in up to 47 percent of wolf stool samples.
Your dog might not be a wolf and certainly does not have to hunt or forage for food, but those scavenging needs are still buried deep within them.
Even if your dog is on an otherwise balanced and nutritious diet and doesn’t need any additional fiber, it might still eat grass because it satisfies the instincts of its ancestors.
Out of Boredom or Anxiety
Do you go on the same route during your walks day in and day out? Your dog could be feeling expressly bored, and so, in an effort to spice up their own walks, they begin eating grass.
Another situation where boredom can drive this behavior is if your dog has spent too long out in the backyard without any companionship or stimulation. They start eating grass to occupy themselves.
It may also be that your pooch is feeling anxious.
If you have a dog sitter who takes over while you go to school or work and the sitter always reports how your dog eats grass, but they never eat grass while they’re with you, it could be a reaction to separation anxiety.
In that case, it’s worth mentioning the grass-eating to your vet as well as finding ways to help your dog cope with your absence.
To Get Your Attention
Does it drive you up a wall when your dog eats grass? Your pup isn’t ignorant of that in the slightest.
If you always yell at them to stop eating grass but today, you’re working from home and totally occupied, your dog is going to try to get your attention in a way that’s proven to work.
They’ll eat grass.
…But Don’t Dogs Eat Grass to Throw Up?
You’re probably a little amazed not to see any mention of dogs eating grass to induce vomiting for an upset stomach.
Well, a report from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine that studied the canine motivation to eat grass found that most dogs who eat grass do not feel sick before they do it.
Only nine percent of canines studied showed any outward symptoms of illness ahead of ingesting grass.
Grass doesn’t necessarily help a dog throw up. That only happened in about 22 percent of cases in the study.
That doesn’t mean your dog’s health is a-okay if they’re eating grass, as their diet could be low in fiber. However, they’re not necessarily feeling sick and trying to throw up.
How Do You Know That Grass Is Safe for Consumption?
I said I would, so I next want into how to tell whether the grass your dog is eating is safe.
Ideally, the best place for your dog to chow down on grass is on your own property. You know what–if anything–you treated the grass with. You can be sure the grass is free of fecal matter as well.
Once your dog is out on a walk, it’s harder to ascertain which grass is fresh versus chemically treated.
If you see any signs marking the grass as having been recently treated with pesticides, then you do not want your pet eating that grass.
You should always look for signs that another dog made waste.
You won’t be able to tell that a dog urinated, but a crusty pile of feces buried in the grass is something you can spot if you’re willing to look for it (and sorry that you do, but that’s part of being a dog owner sometimes!).
Your dog will be eager to sniff at another dog’s solid waste. Sniffing is one thing and eating is another. The latter should be prohibited as best you can.
Make sure your dog is on a good parasite medication and that they’re on a heartworm preventative as well.
These potentially life-threatening insect species can be nearly invisible (if not entirely invisible) to the human eye. Then, before you know it, a worm infects your dog and they end up very sick from eating grass.
How Often Can a Dog Eat Grass? How Much Grass Should They Eat?
You’ve begun letting your dog eat grass on walks, and of course, this has overjoyed your four-legged friend to no end.
How often is it okay for your dog to eat grass? Should you let them eat a lot?
It’s fine to let your dog eat grass on walks as they seem interested.
At first, giving your pup free rein over their grass consumption might cause them to go whole-hog. Then, you’ll notice they don’t eat as much grass.
Your dog is smart. If not for any psychological reason such as boredom or anxiety, then they’ll eat grass only when they need to digest or satisfy those scavenging instincts.
Your dog could have a nutrient or mineral deficiency that’s causing them to eat grass to get their dietary needs met elsewhere.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Grass
Of course, not every pet owner will be so enamored with the thought of their dog eating grass, which is fair. As I’ve established, grass can potentially carry chemicals like pesticides as well as parasites.
So how do you stop your dog from being so obsessed with eating grass? Here are some recommendations.
Give Your Dog a Balanced Diet
Remember, a low-fiber diet is why dogs primarily seek out grass. Once your dog’s daily meals meet their fiber needs, your pup won’t have to deal with painful digestive issues that can leave them constipated.
If they’re eating grass at that point, it’s either down to instinctual or behavioral reasons.
Keep Your Dog Physically and Mentally Stimulated
A happy, stimulated, exercised dog won’t look for avenues to satiate boredom because they won’t feel bored.
Stimulation is not just of the physical variety, or at least, it shouldn’t be. You have to mentally stimulate your dog too.
Change up that walking route. All the new scents and sights will leave your dog anything but bored.
Introduce new toys when at home, especially challenging treat toys that will call on your dog’s smarts to solve.
If your dog has been eating grass to get attention or because they’re bored, then the behavior should stop.
Treat Separation Anxiety and Other Sources of Anxiety in Canines
It’s also a good idea to get to the root cause of your dog’s anxiety, whatever that may be.
Your dog has to get used to you not being around all day sooner or later, and by helping them do that, they shouldn’t nervously eat grass as they await your return.
Grow a Plant Just for Your Dog
Listen, at the end of the day, it’s okay for your dog to eat grass, especially if the grass is safe.
To satisfy a dog’s need to munch and give yourself peace of mind at the same time, you can always grow dog grass or herbs for your pup to eat.