Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Dog in a field of grass

Among pet parents, the conversation can easily get into the weeds when bringing up the often-discussed issue of dogs chowing down on grass thanks to many misconceptions, persistent myths, and old wives’ tales. Fortunately, while eating grass may be a cause for some concern, grass eating is a rather common occurrence. With some careful observation and attention to detail, you should be able to easily determine if your dog’s new appetite for suburban salad is worthy of veterinarian attention.

1. Low fiber content in dogs’ diet or other nutrient deficiencies 

Cravings often come from a body’s instinctual need for one nutrient or another. Dogs, like many animals, have an instinctual understanding of where to get what they need to be happy and healthy. Grass, while a far cry from the quality of other foods, does have a small amount of plant fiber locked away in those green stalks. Dogs with a fiber deficiency may seek out mouthfuls of the green stuff to fill in nutritional gaps in their diet.

Fiber is an important part of the digestive process, and if you’ve noticed your dog struggling to eliminate solid waste paired with the grass gobbling, low fiber levels might be to blame. Now, a dog’s specific fiber needs vary from breed to breed, but most quality commercial dog food should provide an ample source of fiber for your pup.

Some fad diets may deprive dogs of nutrients that they need, so before turning to grain-free kibble or raw meat diets, make sure to consult with your vet to ensure that your dog will still get all the healthy stuff it needs to live its best life.

2. Pica

That instinct to seek out nutrients can take odd turns at times. Pica, a fixation formed around chewing and eating substances like dirt, stems from various psychological and physical issues whether it be nutrient deficiencies or nervous disorders.

Pica is also rather common, too, with one study ranking it as the third most common behavioral issue in dogs. If you find your dog eating dirt and chewing obsessively in addition to eating grass, they may be dealing with pica as well.

3. Soothing an upset stomach 

A common theory for why dogs suddenly start impersonating sheep is that they are trying to soothe an upset stomach or are trying to induce vomiting. This idea likely comes from people over the years watching dogs shovel down mouthfuls of grass only to vomit it all back up minutes later. However, the grass itself is just as likely to have caused the vomiting than any pre-existing nausea.

Since a build-up of stomach acid can cause tummy problems, eating grass can help absorb that excess acid, so there is some truth to the idea of grass as leafy Pepto. However, studies show that a mere 10 percent of dogs demonstrate signs of illness prior to eating grass, so the idea that the grass is a dog’s answer to indigestion isn’t always the case.

4. Boredom and anxiety

Some grazing might also just be to pass the time. Dogs are rather intelligent creatures, and they need entertainment and activity to keep them stimulated and happy. If your dog isn’t getting much playtime or company, they might turn to taking bites out of your lawn as their new pastime.

Take your furry friend for a walk, play some catch, or give them some scratches. If the attention and affection put a swift end to the grass eating, you have your answer. Just make sure to set aside time each day to play and bond with your pup.

5. They may just like it

Maybe you chew gum long after the flavor is all gone, or perhaps you like chips for that satisfying crunch. Dogs like that kind of stimulation, too, and some seem to simply like the texture and sensation of chewing on grass.

Providing ample chew toys or other means of stimulation might help distract your dog from eating away at the yard, but that habit may be hard to break.

Is eating grass bad for my dog?

A few blades here and there are likely no cause for concern. However, grass is seldom just grass. With the growing use of pesticides and fertilizers, a chunk of Kentucky bluegrass might come with a side of toxic chemicals.

A lush yard is also home to countless tiny critters including slugs, snails, and parasites that may find your pup’s stomach a charming place to call home. Eating grass is an easy way for such pests to move in and start causing all sorts of intestinal problems.

Not all yards are the same, and some grasses can irritate your dog’s digestive system more than others. Depending on the species or the presence of weeds, a thoughtless mouthful of an unfamiliar patch of greenery can cause indigestion or even allergic reactions, not to mention potential accumulation in the stomach or intestinal tract which can cause serious GI obstructions that may require surgery.

What to do if your dog eats grass

If your dog is just grabbing a little bite here and there, you likely have little to worry about. But if the behavior has you concerned, there are a few steps you can take to address your dog’s herbivorous streak.

The first thing to do is determine if there are any underlying medical conditions to address, which we will look at in a moment. If you figure that your dog is eating grass out of boredom or other non-medical reasons, there are a few steps you can take to change the behavior.

Simply, remove their access to grass — Of course, you still need to take your dog out, and grass is a pretty unavoidable part of the outdoor experience in most places. However, you can ensure that if your dog will be around grass, you can be around to supervise and redirect if your pooch starts snacking.

Remember the training basics — You have likely worked to train other unfortunate habits out of your dog before. Remember to reward good behaviors and discourage the bad. Punishment is not a viable option, so if you notice your dog eating grass, redirect them to a chew toy and reward them for their new focus.

Give your dog a safe place — If the grass eating really is just something the dog enjoys and there are no unfortunate side effects like vomiting, you might just let the dog chew in a controlled environment. If you can secure a patch of grass free of pesticides and other contaminants, you can let that be your dog’s outlet. Just make sure the chewing doesn’t escalate or lead to any worrying side effects.

When should you be worried?

Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite (for non-grass food), and other changes in behavior that you notice paired with the grass eating are generally cause for concern and may need medical treatment. If you notice these sorts of symptoms, you should go ahead and ask  your vet for their expert opinion.

Even if you do not notice any other health concerns, if the grass eating is excessive or seems like a compulsion, your dog might be grappling with some psychological issues that need to be addressed by a vet as well. For instance, if you try to pull your dog away or attempts at redirecting with treats or toys fail, that points to obsessive behavior.

Frequently asked questions

Do dogs eat grass for pain?

Your dog might eat grass to relieve excessive stomach acid commonly associated with nausea, but that may not always be the case. There are many other reasons a dog may eat grass.

How long after eating grass will a dog vomit?

Most dogs eat grass without vomiting at all, and those that do, generally vomit a few seconds afterward. However, if other medical concerns are causing the stomach problems, the vomiting may come at any time.

Do dogs eat grass because of worms?

If eating grass is paired with other symptoms like diarrhea or changes in appetite, intestinal parasites may be to blame.

Is it normal for dogs to eat grass?

Eating grass is very common for dogs, but only in moderate amounts. Excessive or obsessive grass eating is cause for concern.