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Why do dogs eat grass?

Why do dogs eat grass?

Do you often look outside to see your pup munching away on the lawn? Today, our Santa Cruz County vets explain some of the reasons your dog might be eating grass and when you should seek veterinary care. 

Why Dogs Eat Grass

Concerned dog owners are often left scratching their heads wondering why their dogs seem to love eating grass. In fact, many dogs will eat grass, vomit, and then go right back to eating grass again. 

Does this behavior mean their stomach is upset? Are they trying to vomit? 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. In fact, 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 in order to have an efficiently functioning digestive system. After all, dogs are omnivores. Which means that good health relies on plant foods as well as high quality meat. Dogs may instinctively eat grass to add roughage to their diet and help 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 a number of 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, vomiting, 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, there may be a psychological reason behind their snack choice. 

If your dog seems bored, increasing the length, distance or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating. You can also try introducing new outdoor toys to keep things interesting. 

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 (or anything else), 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 dogs that are otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be safe. 

It is important to note though, that your dog should never eat grass that has been treated with herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. For this reason, you should not allow your dog to eat grass in places like parks where you don't know how it has been treated. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you're concerned about your dog's grass eating behavior or think they may be suffering from a gastrointestinal issue, please contact our Santa Cruz County vets to book an appointment. 

New Patients Welcome

Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Cruz County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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