If you spot your dog nibbling on some grass during outside playtime, don’t fret — it’s a pretty normal dog behavior. Fetch by The Dodo’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.
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).
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:
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:
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:
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.
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash