From upset stomachs to poor diets to parasites to just boredom?!
There are a lot of theories as to why dogs eat grass. And as we are about to see, some of these theories hold up much better than others.
Eating grass is common for all canine species. In fact, about 3 out of every 4 domestic dogs eat grass.
Because some of the theories above are concerning, a lot of pet parents worry about their dog when they see them munching away on grass.
But before you panic, we are here to let you know that you most likely have nothing to worry about if you see your pupperino eating grass like they’re a cow.
For the most part, you can mooove right on and ignore it, continuing to let your dog embarrass their cow brethren.
So why do dogs really eat grass, and are there times when we should be concerned, such as when they vomit afterward? We’re happy to say we have the definitive answers to those questions and many more.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
The reason dogs eat grass is . . . drum roll . . . we don’t honestly know why. There are a lot of guesses, and it’s most likely that dogs eat grass for different reasons.
There are stories of owners whose dogs would eat grass every day, but once they received a fiber supplement, they completely stopped. Eating grass to curb a mineral deficiency is a form of pica.
This is the phenomenon of someone or thing eating odd things, often due to an underlying issue with a mineral deficiency.
One of the most common beliefs as to why dogs eat grass is they’re experiencing stomach discomfort and are trying to relieve it. Some people think this means the pup has intestinal worms, while others believe that any stomach discomfort can trigger a dog’s need to eat grass.
While a dog eating grass because they have an upset stomach may be the case sometimes, it’s unlikely the main culprit. Studies and anecdotal reports show most dogs eat grass regardless if they feel well or not.
In fact, only about 1 out of 10 dogs show signs of sickness immediately before and after eating grass. This statistic doesn’t include the vomiting that occurs due to eating grass, because as you’ll see, that’s usually harmless as well.
The most likely explanation as to why dogs eat grass is they are omnivores and were semi-omnivores before domestication. To balance their high-meat diet, it’s likely ancient dogs ate grass and other vegetation.
Today, this isn’t needed if the pupper is on a well-balanced diet appropriate for dogs. However, the instinct is still there, so modern dogs still eat grass like their ancestors. But don’t worry, a little extra fiber in their diet shouldn’t have any negative effects on top of their regular diet.
Constipation is one of the most common symptoms of too much fiber in a diet, so keep an eye out for that if they are eating a lot of grass.
Other psychological reasons for a dog eating grass include boredom, anxiety, and many appear to just like the flavor.
So in most cases, you don’t need to worry about your dog eating grass, even if they sometimes vomit it up afterward. Either of these indicate they are sick. One thing to always watch out for even when your pup just likes to eat grass is when treated with herbicides and pesticides.
Dog Eating Grass And Vomiting
Most people think that a dog eating grass means that they’ll vomit it up afterward, but this isn’t the case by far. In fact, only about 1 in 4 dogs vomit after consuming grass. Even when they do, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
Grass is simply hard for them to digest and they regurgitate it back up. It’s not that different from how a cow eats grass when you think of it. Thankfully, for them they have those four stomachs.
If vomiting becomes a common occurrence, it’s a good idea to touch base with your pup’s veterinarian and ask them about it. In some cases, frequent eating of grass can be due to parasites, so your vet may want to do a quick check for them.
All-and-all, if you can eliminate the possibility of parasites and chemically treated grass, the biggest concern with vomiting due to consumption of it is it staining your floors.
Why Is My Dog Eating So Much Grass And Throwing Up?
So why does grass make a dog vomit? Grass is highly fibrous and hard to digest. Combine that with dogs being terrible at chewing their food, and you can put two and two together.
If you need to curb your dog’s grass consumption, make sure they aren’t eating grass because they are bored, stressed, receiving an imbalanced dog food, or have internal parasites.
If you remove all of these issues from the equation and they are still eating a lot of grass, causing them to throw up, you’ll need to train them to stop if it’s become too much of a problem.
What Happens When A Dog Eats Too Much Grass?
In most cases, a dog won’t throw up when they eat grass, but if they are eating a lot of it, then the chances they get sick do greatly rise. It’s extremely unlikely that your dog would ever be able to eat enough grass to actually cause them any real harm.
Remember, however, grass can be chemically treated for bugs and weeds, contain animal fecal matter, and contain toxic vegetation. So while the grass isn’t directly dangerous, it can be contaminated, so make sure these issues aren’t present if your dog is eating a lot of grass.
Why Is My Dog Eating Grass And Panting?
Dogs mostly use panting when they are trying to cool themselves or are extremely excited. If your dog is eating grass and panting, they may be experiencing an upset stomach or just trying to cool off.
If panting is prolonged and excessive, make sure they are moved to a cooler area, and immediately contact your veterinarian if panting continues.
What Can I Give My Dog To Settle His Stomach?
It might seem backward, but giving your dog a little bit of food can help settle their stomach. Chicken and rice (a staple in many dog foods), pumpkin, broth, and even baby food (Stage II) can all help bring that much-needed relief to a dog’s upset stomach.
Additionally, keep them well hydrated and their food bland. You may want to remove their dog food for 12-24 hours or break it up into more frequent feeding windows. The smaller portion sizes can help prevent overloading of the already stressed stomach.
If your dog is regularly fighting with a sensitive stomach, consider a probiotic aid. Some doggy parents swear that it’s completely turned their pup’s poor digestive around.
Some over-the-counter medications can be safe to give like Pepto-Bismol, but please consult your veterinarian before administering. Pepto-Bismol contains salicylates that can cause gastric bleeding. In rare cases, your vet may recommend administering a low dose.
Something in the rage of 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds every 6-8 hours. If diarrhea doesn’t stop after a few hours, please consult your veterinarian for advice. As well, immediately discontinue use if you notice black stool as it may indicate gastric bleeding has occurred.
WARNING: Never give cats Pepto-Bismol as bismuth subsalicylate is toxic to felines. As well, it’s not recommended to give to dogs that are pregnant, have a bleeding disease, or are on aspirin or another drug that causes blood thinning and/or irradiation of the digestive tract.
Should I Let My Dog Eat Grass When Sick?
There is no easy answer about whether you should continue to let your dog eat grass if they are feeling sick. It’s unlikely to harm them, but you may wish to consult your veterinarian first as they can better judge the individual situation.
Should I Take My Dog To The Vet For Eating Grass?
In the vast majority of cases, there is no reason to be concerned about your dog eating grass, and even them vomiting up after doesn’t warrant a call to the vet. If you notice they are frequently eating grass and vomiting, it’s a good idea to touch base with your veterinarian about the situation.
Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want To Eat Grass?
Most dogs eat grass for perfectly harmless reasons. However, if you notice your dog is suddenly eating a lot of grass when they never did before, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on them.
Intestinal worms, an upset stomach, or a change to a new food lacking a certain mineral could be the culprit to the recent action of your dog suddenly eating grass.
Dog Frantically Eating Grass And Coughing
Dogs are “poor eaters” if you will. Many have the terrible habit of eating frantically, whether it’s their food or a tasty treat that’s thrown their way.
For many dogs, eating grass is no different, and when they’re eating tall grass and barely chewing it, the long strains get caught in their throats, causing them to hack or cough. This is mostly harmless, but keep an eye on it in the rare case there is another issue present or if the coughing becomes severe.
Most experts agree eating grass is A-OK in their book.
In the large majority of cases, there is little to nothing to worry about if you see your doggo eating grass. Studies show only about 1 out of 10 dogs who eat grass are actually experiencing an upset stomach or are having issues with intestinal parasites.
So, just make sure it’s not recently been treated with a herbicide or pesticide.
Your pup is most likely eating grass because it’s a habit they’ve carried with them through domestication.
Less likely their regular dog food may be lacking a critical vitamin or mineral, most likely fiber, so look into that if you regularly see issues. Dogs suffering from pica will sometimes try to eat other odd items in addition.
Some dogs eat grass because they have a sensitive stomach. For help with that, make sure they are getting a well-balanced diet, not too many treats, then consider a probiotic aid if their regular diet isn’t enough.
Another reason is dogs just eat grass because they are bored or stressed, so make sure if they’re spending a lot of time outside that they have toys, chews, etc. to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. As well, make sure there isn’t anything in the environment causing them to feel stressed.
Last, we can’t rule out that some dogs probably just like the taste of grass. If so, then again, no worries, just make sure they aren’t eating the grass because it’s been treated with a herbicide or has animal droppings which can contain intestinal parasites such as roundworms or hookworms.
If your dog is a big ol’ grass eater, then there is no inherent reason to freak out unless you see other concerning issues. However, it’s still a great idea to look up dangerous plants and weeds that grow in your area to prevent your doggo from trying to eat something that toxic to them.
Looking to stay informed and up to date on what’s safe for your pup and isn’t? Then make sure to check out our nutritional articles along with the rest of our blog for help with health, behavior, training, and more.