Why do dogs eat grass?

19 May 2021

Wondering why your dog eats grass once in a while? Find out if it's safe for dogs to eat grass, why they do it, and what to look out for.

white and black border collie dog eating grass

If you have a dog, chances are you’ve seen them eat grass at some point. Sometimes, dogs eat grass and swallow it. Other times, they simply chew it up and spit it out. Ever wondered what that’s all about? Or got a bit worried? You’re not alone. Many dog parents have the same question in mind – why do dogs eat grass – and want to know what it means for their canine friend. Find out why dogs eat grass, when it’s safe and when it’s not. Plus, discover what dog dangers to look out for in summer.

Why do dogs eat grass?

“Why does my dog eat grass?” you might be wondering. There is no one simple reason why dogs eat grass. Dogs enjoy munching on the stuff for a bunch of different reasons.

The top 5 reasons for a dog eating grass are:

  1. Instinct
  2. Nutrient deficiency
  3. Upset Stomach / Sickness
  4. Boredom
  5. Anxiety

Let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons, and what you can do about it.

1. Your dog’s just following their instinct.

One simple explanation for why dogs eat grass is instinct. It’s a natural instinct – to hunt and scavenge for food – like your canine best friend’s ancestors did back in the day. In the past, dogs survived by eating grass and other plants, meat and bones, and food scraps that could be found around groups of humans.

Dogs are natural scavengers. They’ve evolved to find a meal wherever they go.

Their scavenger nature is also what enabled dogs to survive and thrive as long as they have throughout history. That, combined with their prey drive, which is still quite intense in some dog breeds.

Grass eating is thought to be a normal habit inherited from wild dogs from a long, long time ago. For dogs back then to survive, they would have needed good hunting abilities in order to survive as a pack. Grass eating may have evolved to help conceal their scent from their prey. Over time, dogs have evolved to become omnivores – like us humans – which can explain why they still have an appetite for grass.

2. Your dog is missing some nutrients.

One reason why dogs eat grass is that they are really hungry, or have a dietary deficiency. If a dog is not getting their nutritional needs met, it’s more likely they’ll eat grass.

Grass, like other plants growing outdoors in nature, contains vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are good for your furry friend.

Before preparing homemade meals, be sure to consult a professional to make sure you’ve got the right balance of nutrition. If you notice that your dog has been munching away on grass or houseplants, then you may want to introduce natural herbs or cooked vegetables into their diet.

brown dog in grass

3. Ruh-roh! Your dog might be sick.

Why do dogs eat grass and vomit?

Some dogs might turn to eating grass when they don’t feel well. Grass blades can tickle a dog’s throat, which may help them vomit. Which, in turn, can get rid of whatever’s bothering them and help them feel better. If a dog is trying to naturally get rid of a gassy or upset stomach, grass may do the trick.

⚠️ However, watch out for a sudden increase in grass eating, as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying illness that your dog is trying to self-treat. In this case, you’ll need immediate vet assistance.

Less than 25% of dogs vomit from eating grass1.

4. Your dog is just bored.

Dogs are naturally active, curious creatures who will get bored easily if not provided with enough healthy stimulation and activity. Dogs chew things (like socks) frequently when they’re bored and need “something to do.” So one of the main reasons why dogs eat grass – beyond its various other benefits – is that it’s just fun!

Solution: If you have a bored dog on your hands who has turned to eating grass, try getting them more active to stop the munchies. That could mean more frequent walks, longer outings or a faster pace. Or simply more play time. You can set fitness goals and make sure your dog stays in shape with a GPS tracker & activity monitor for dogs.

Make sure to always provide your pup with something to keep them occupied, and with appropriate things to chew on.

5. Your furry friend is anxious.

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, eating grass may be their way of coping.

Solution: Spend more time with your furry friend, or leave your personal items (with your scent) for them to smell when you are away. This can help curb your dog’s grass-eating habit.

Should I let my dog eat grass?

Now that we know the reasons why dogs eat grass, the question is – should you let your dog eat grass? In many cases, eating grass can be healthy and harmless. But before you let your dog munch freely on grass, remember that there are cases where eating grass may be dangerous. To help you avoid such situations, let’s have a look at what those cases are.

border collie standing in field of grass and flowers

Is it safe for my dog to eat grass?

Grass itself is not toxic to dogs. No matter what the real reason is (and it may be different from dog to dog or a combination of all the above), you can be sure that eating grass is a common behavior for a normal, healthy dog.

Grass itself isn’t (generally) dangerous. But occasionally, grass, and particularly grass awns, can get stuck in the back of your dog’s throat. If your dog seems uncomfortable after eating grass – or if they’re pawing at their mouth – check for grass as a potential cause.

Although grazing itself isn’t harmful, one thing to keep in mind is that certain herbicides and pesticides used on lawns can be quite toxic, especially if ingested and should certainly be avoided.

Eating grass can be bad for dogs when there are herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides, or other harmful chemicals on the grass.

Yard sprays, such as weed control, can turn grass and plants toxic. If you don’t know if an area is chemical-free or not, don’t let your dog graze. And remember, some types of grass and plants are toxic to dogs!

When you should be concerned about your dog eating grass

If you notice your dog eating grass excessively, obsessively, or more frequently than you think is normal, contact your vet. Additionally consult a veterinary professional if the dog eating grass also shows any of the following symptoms:

  • dog eating grass excessively
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • bloody poo
  • tiredness
  • licking lips

Did you learn something new in this post about dogs eating grass? Then share this article with a friend. And check out the video below for more information!

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