Health & Wellness
Why do dogs eat grass?
It’s a relatively normal behavior
If you spot your dog nibbling on some grass during outside playtime, don’t fret — it’s a pretty normal dog behavior. Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian Dr. Aliya McCullough explains the reason why dogs eat grass and how to know when their snacking has gone too far.
Why do dogs eat grass?
It may seem odd when a dog (or puppy) eats grass, but it’s actually quite normal. It’s rumored that dogs eat grass to settle their upset stomachs, but that’s likely a myth. There isn’t believed to be a single trigger that encourages this behavior, dogs just truly enjoy it. Some common theories of why dogs eat grass are boredom, dietary deficiency and behavioral issues — but those are unproven.
When you’re playing in the backyard and notice your dog eating a small amount of grass, that’s normally OK. You’ll want to intervene when you notice them enjoying a little too much grass, though (especially if they’re also eating dirt and leaves, which can cause intestinal blockages).
Do dogs vomit after eating grass?
Dogs may vomit after eating grass, but the grass isn’t necessarily the direct cause of their upset stomachs. Contact your veterinarian if your dog starts showing signs of pain or illness after eating grass. However, grass isn’t usually harmful to pups unless:
- Dogs eat an excessive amount of grass
- Rough or fibrous grass injures dogs’ mouths or throats
- Pesticides or chemicals on the grass cause illness
If your dog eats a stick, rock or anything that causes them to choke while eating grass, contact your veterinarian immediately or rush them to an emergency veterinary clinic. Knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver or Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will allow you to act fast to help your pet.
It’s always a good idea to have a pet emergency preparedness plan in place, so you can act fast if your dog manages to eat grass that has chemicals or pesticides on it, too. Here are some quick tips to get you started:
- Write down the address and phone number of your nearest animal emergency room.
- Post the Pet Poison Helpline number (855-764-7661) in a convenient location and save the number to your phone’s contact list.
- Keep a pet first aid kit in your car and house.
- Organize and have all of your pets’ medical records and vaccination information handy.
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How can I stop a dog from eating grass?
Sometimes saying “no” isn’t enough to pull your dog’s attention away from the grass they’re eating. If you want to discourage your dog from eating grass, there are a couple of other things you can do:
- Make sure their diet meets all of their nutritional needs
- Provide them with enough physical and mental stimulation
- Give them plenty of chew toys or food dispensing toys
If your dog eats grass, you’ll know they’re most likely OK, but contact your veterinarian if the behavior becomes problematic or your best friend starts showing signs of sickness. For dogs that may want a bit more greenery to their diet, check out our “Can dogs eat…” series where we break down all of the safe and unsafe foods for dogs.
The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.
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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash