If you are a dog owner, you might be wondering why do dogs eat grass and if such behavior is a sign of a serious condition.
If you have witnessed your pet eating grass and are worried that your dog might be ill, please keep reading to find out more about the ten most common reasons dogs eat grass.
1. Evolutionary Biology
Some scientists have concluded that during the course of the domestic dog’s evolutionary trajectory, they were predominately opportunistic scavengers for a lengthy era of their development.
This means that dogs survived by eating anything that they could find and digest, including both meat and plant matter. This evolutionary instinct is still present in dogs’ DNA, but some dogs seem to have a stronger inclination to engage in grass-eating behaviors than others.
Perhaps, if your dog is eating grass, they are just following in the footsteps of their evolutionary ancestors.
2. Some Dogs Just Love The Taste of Grass
Some dogs are just more food motivated than others. These dogs are always looking for a tasty treat, and as strange as it might seem more a human, many dogs just love the taste of grass.
According to dog trainer Cesar Millan, some dog owners notice a decrease in this behavior after they switch their pet to a high-fiber pet food. Of course, make sure you discuss any dietary changes with your dog’s veterinarian before you make a switch.
3. Your Dog’s Stomach Is Upset
Although many people assume that their dog is eating grass because their stomach is upset, according to WebMD, only twenty-five percent of dogs actually vomit after eating grass. A more recent study concluded that only eight percent of dogs vomited after eating grass.
While it is important to monitor your dog if you catch them eating grass, remember that your pet is not necessarily sick. Eating grass can trigger a gag reflex in your pet, so although it is rare for a dog to eat grass because of an upset stomach, it does happen.
4. Obsessive-Compulsive Issues
Although many individuals mistakenly believe that only human beings can suffer from mental health issues, the truth is that dogs can experience issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder as well.
Although obsessive-compulsive issues can develop in dogs, this condition is relatively rare.
5. Eating Grass Because of Boredom
Some dogs eat grass just because they are bored and do not know what else to do. This problem can be exacerbated if your dog is left alone for long periods of the day. If your work schedule prevents you from returning home to walk your dog during the work day, consider engaging a dog walking service.
Making sure that your dog is getting enough exercise can keep them from eating grass out of a sense of boredom. Another option is to make sure your dog has plenty of toys to play with both at home and when the two of you go to visit the park.
You might have to try a few different types of toys (such as balls and tugging toys) before you find one that captures your pet’s interest and prevents it from eating grass.
6. Untreated Worms
If your dog is eating grass, there is a possibility that they are suffering from an untreated roundworm infection. Roundworms, or ascarids, are parasites that live in your animal’s digestive tract and steal important nutrients.
If you are an eagle-eyed pet owner, you may even be able to spot these ascarids in your dog’s vomit or feces. Look for white or brown worm-like creatures several inches in length.
A stool test by your dog’s veterinarian can confirm the presence of these pests. Once your veterinarian confirms that your dog does indeed have roundworms, there are treatment options available.
7. Unmet Nutritional Needs
Some dogs eat grass because their basic nutritional needs are simply not being properly met. The issue might be a lack of dietary fiber or a mineral deficiency. Sometimes, just making a switch to a better dog food can help curtail your dog’s grass eating.
If your dog is eating grass because of nutritional deficiencies, this is considered pica. While a dog’s grazing behavior is not inherently dangerous or problematic, pesticides or other chemicals on a lawn can be extremely hazardous if ingested.
This is one reason it is important to identify the root cause of your dog’s grass eating problem. If you are concerned that your pet has eaten a poisonous plant or ingested dangerous chemicals, contact the ASPCA poison control center for guidance.
8. Improving Digestion
If your dog is having problems digesting its food, they might be eating grass in order to improve digestion. This is another underlying condition that can be ameliorated by switching to a higher fiber dog food product.
9. Attention-Seeking Behavior
If your dog is lonely and does not feel like they receive enough social attention, they might be eating grass just to prompt a reaction from you. If you routinely react strongly when you witness your dog eating grass, this might be encouraging, rather than discouraging, your pet’s problematic behavior.
Try toning down your reaction and see if the grass-eating behavior decreases.
10. There Might Be Something Else on the Grass Your Pet is Trying to Eat
If you notice your dog tries to eat a lot of grass when you visit the dog park or in your own backyard, it is possible that your dog is not actually trying to eat the grass, but some other matter that has been deposited on the grass, like feces or spilled food.
Make sure you clean up any dog mess in your yard regularly, and check the ground at the local dog park before you let your dog off the leash to play.
What You Should Do if Your Dog Eats Grass?
Although there are many reasons dogs chomp down on grass, it can be difficult to determine the motivations for your dog’s behavior. Since grass eating can be a symptom of a major issue, you should schedule an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian as soon as possible.
Once you rule out anything more serious, you can start experimenting with other solutions. For example, if your dog eats grass out of boredom, you might look into ways to add more social fun to your dog’s life.
Perhaps the occasional trip to the dog park will help your dog quit this bothersome habit.