Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Dog on Grass
Photo: iStock

When this author was young, like five years young, I was in a park with my father. As we were lying on the grass, my father, I guess for fun, picked up some grass and ate it. He said you should try it sometime. Well, I did that day. Being human, I am glad to say nothing happened, but we humans in general don’t eat grass :-). 

With that said, have you noticed that as soon as you take your dog outside, he/she may run towards that freshly mowed lawn and begin to munch on the grass? Is this habit healthy? Is it normal? Let’s look at the theories and explanations as to why dogs have such a desire to eat grass.

Grassy Theories

One common hypothesis is that they do this to induce vomiting. Many think if a dog is feeling gassy or has certain things in his digestive system he wants to get rid of, he will chew on grass to induce vomiting. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence backing this theory. Less than 25% of dogs will vomit after eating grass.

Another and more simplified explanation is that they like it! Cats might be mainly carnivores, while dogs on the other hand are much more omnivorous. The average dog will eat anything if given the chance or if he is hungry enough. Wild dogs such as wolves and other canines dabble in plant-eating as well and also devour omnivores and herbivores whole, including the entire stomach contents.

Eating grass may also be a natural way for our domesticated canines to vary their diet. If your dog is eating a lot of grass, this may also be a signal of nutritional deficiency.  Like us, dogs cannot digest cellulose, the main energy source of grass. Dogs might just be grazing for a source of fiber. Some grass contains minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium which might explain why dogs only like to munch on only one certain type of grass. 

Is Eating Grass Healthy for Dogs?

Dog on leaves
Photo: iStock

A little grass-eating can be harmless if it hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. This can occur when your landscaper comes. Make sure your landscaper knows you have pets and inform him about putting harmful chemicals on your lawn. Most landscapers will put out signs on the lawn stating that it has just been sprayed with chemicals. They say your pet should not be on the lawn for at least 24 hours, probably 48 may be better after the lawn has been sprayed.

Also, you must make sure everyone in your house is aware of these dangers and not let the dogs out if you suspect the lawn was sprayed. My wife makes extra sure we know about the landscaper’s spraying and if we forget and let the dog out to the backyard, screaming like the woman in Psycho would seem tame.

What About Repeated Grass Eating?

If your dog eats a lot of grass and you are worried about his or her nutrition or digestion, it may be vet time. Be sure to ask the vet for advice on changes to your pet’s diet, but he might ask you to bring him into the facility. 

Bottom Line

Dogs eating grass is normal and it won’t harm their digestive system, but doing this exceptionally may indicate a possible issue. Contacting your vet for advice. A possible checkup would be the recommended way to go.