Vienna dog owners often ask our vets about their pup's grass-eating habit, and whether it's safe. Today our Hope Advanced Veterinary Center team shares some of the reasons why dogs eat grass, and when you should be concerned.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Concerned pet parents 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.
Could this be a sign that your dog feels like there's something in their stomach that needs to be brought up? Has the dog eaten something poisonous? Is the dog self-treating an undiagnosed medical condition?
Some dogs do in fact vomit after eating grass, but that's not the case for all dogs. The majority of dogs eat grass without showing any signs or symptoms of stomach upset. So it seems unlikely that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. Then why do they do it?
Physical reasons dogs might eat grass
Like people, dogs need fiber to keep their digestive system running smoothly - after all, dogs (and people!) are omnivores. This means that good GI and overall health rely on plant foods as well as high-quality meat. Eating grass may be an easy way for your pooch to add roughage to their diet, helping to keep things moving smoothly through their digestive tract.
However, if your dog is eating grass but also showing signs of stomach upset, there may be a medical problem. Dogs can suffer from a number of stomach and gastrointestinal issues including conditions such as pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass and has other symptoms such as lack of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's a good idea to take your pup to the vet for an examination.
Psychological reasons dogs might eat grass
Dogs will often eat grass due to boredom or anxiety in much the same way that people will bite their nails. If your dog isn't displaying any symptoms of digestive issues but munches relentlessly on grass, consider psychological reasons for their behavior.
If your dog appears to be dealing with boredom, try increasing the length, distance or intensity of walks. Expending more energy and receiving more attention could help to reduce grass eating.
Separation anxiety could also be the reason behind your dog's grass-eating habit. When you leave the house, you can try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb their grass-munching behavior.
Some dogs are obsessive about a particular behavior. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your pet reduce or stop obsessive behaviors.
So... is it safe for my dog to eat grass?
With some caveats, it should be fine! If your dog is otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is generally considered to be harmless behavior.
To help keep your grass-nibbling dog safe, ensure there are no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers on the grass your dog enjoys.
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.