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You feed your dog a nutritious food full of everything they need to grow and be healthy, so why do they insist on eating grass?
While no one is entirely sure why dogs eat grass, pet experts are fairly certain it's just normal canine behavior and probably nothing to worry about. There are two main types of canine grass eating: grazing and instinctive behavior.
The first reason why dogs might eat grass is grazing, where your dog happily munches on grass and suffers no ill effects. Every dog has their own unique traits, but it's not uncommon to see this behavior when your pet is anxious, or maybe even a little bored.
Some vets suggest dogs eat grass to make up for a nutritional deficiency but even dogs that eat well-balanced diets will eat grass. It's possible that they simply like the taste. So even if you're feeding your dog well, they might still fancy some fiber or greens!
The other type of grass eating is thought to be more of an instinctive behavior. This is thought to be a deliberate attempt to induce vomiting after they've swallowed something that makes them feel ill. It is possible your dog is suffering from an upset stomach, and their instinct is to throw up as a form of relief.
Dogs that eat to make themselves vomit usually swallow grass as quickly as possible, barely even chewing it. It is believed that the long, unchewed pieces of grass tickle their throats to stimulate vomiting.
Safe to eat?
With all grass-eating behavior, it’s important to keep a careful eye on the sort of grass your dog is eating. Don't let them eat anything that has been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. Double check your lawn care products to ensure whether or not they're safe for pets.
How can I get my dog to stop eating grass?
If your dog’s grass eating is starting to concern you, there are some things you can try to help curb the habit. As previously mentioned, your dog may have a nutritional deficiency that is causing their upset stomach, so making adjustments to their food or eating habits can make an impact on your pet's behavior over time. Make sure to ask your vet what would be a good food to feed to ensure you do not make their digestion problems worse. Please note that you should transition your pet's food gradually over time.
How do I know if my dog needs to go to the vet?
If your dog eats grass then vomits and seems fine, they’ve probably taken care of whatever was bothering them. If they keep eating grass and vomiting, you should take them to see the vet. If you’re ever concerned that this might not be a normal behavior, it is best to consult your vet immediately.
Typically, the occasional grass grazing isn't a cause for concern, but if your dog compulsively ingests foreign objects on a regular basis, you may want to see if they have pica. Pica is a medical condition in dogs that leads them to crave or eat items that are not typically thought of as food. Cloth, dirt, paper, garbage and feces are all things that dogs with pica may be drawn to, and if left unchecked can lead to nutritional and digestive issues.
Overall, grass eating shouldn’t be a major cause for concern, but there are things you can do to make it less of an issue for your pet (as well as the lawn). If you ever feel like the habit is becoming a concern, contact your vet for a professional recommendation.