Does your dog eat a healthy meal then head outside and begin eating grass? Does your dog eat grass, vomit, and then keep eating grass? Here, our Gaithersburg vets share some of the physical and psychological reasons dogs eat grass, and when you should be concerned about this behavior.
Why Dogs Eat Grass
Concerned dog owners are often left scratching their heads wondering why their dogs seem to love eating grass. Many dogs will eat grass, vomit, and then go right back to eating grass again.
Does this behavior mean that the dog feels that there is something in its stomach that needs to be brought up, has the dog eaten something poisonous, or is the dog self-treating some undiagnosed medical issue?
Some dogs do vomit after eating grass, however, not all dogs vomit. The majority of dogs eat grass without showing symptoms of stomach upset either before or after eating grass. This seems to indicate that it's unlikely that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. So, why do they do it?
Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Just like people, dogs require fiber in their diets to have an efficiently functioning digestive system. After all, dogs are omnivores. This means that good health relies on plant foods as well as high-quality meat. Eating grass may be an easy, and seemingly tasty way for dogs to add roughage to their diet, helping to keep things flowing through their gastrointestinal tract (GI or digestive tract).
That said, if your dog is eating grass but also showing signs of stomach discomfort, there may be a medical problem. Dogs can suffer from several GI issues including gastric reflux, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass and has other symptoms such as lack of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's time to see your vet.
Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass
Much like people who mindlessly bite their nails, dogs will often eat grass due to boredom or anxiety. If your dog is not showing any symptoms of digestive issues but munches relentlessly on grass, consider the psychological reasons for their behavior.
If your dog seems bored, increasing the length, distance, or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating.
For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog when you leave the house. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb grass eating.
Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, it's time to see your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your dog reduce obsessive behaviors.
Is It Safe For My Dog To Eat Grass?
For otherwise healthy dogs and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be safe.
To keep your grass-grazing dog healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers on the grass your dog nibbles.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.