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Ever find it gross or embarrassing when your dog eats grass? Worried? Wondering, “Why is my dog eating grass?”
In this article we will take a quick look at some of the reasons dogs might eat grass. We will separate truth from fiction (and myth!) about grass eating in dogs. You’ll also learn what to do to get your dog to stop eating grass.
But first, the why.
The truth is, we do not know why all dogs eat grass, and they might eat it for different reasons. There have been very few canine scientific studies involving dogs and grass eating.
We do know that dogs are omnivores, but they primarily eat meat. We also know that other animals of similar ancestry, like wolves, jackals or coyotes, have also been observed eating grass in the wild.
Dogs, like their ancestral cousins, might eat grass for a variety of reasons.
Puppies eat grass more frequently than older dogs. Puppies will chew on your favorite shoes also! That chewing comes from an explorative curiosity, and the stimulation of their gums and teeth as new teeth grow in.
Dogs may eat grass from some deep evolutionary instinct, like wolves. While it’s still just speculation, the idea might be that they need more of a certain nutrient, like fiber. Grass will pass through most canine digestive tracts largely undigested, which can help their bowels move.
Some dogs may have gotten extra attention when they eat grass. When pet parents seem concerned, offer additional petting, treats and care, a dog may learn that eating grass is a way to get such attention.
But what about vomiting? Do dogs eat grass to vomit?
Most pet parents have heard the myth that a dog with an upset stomach will eat grass to vomit. But really: Do dogs eat grass to vomit, or does eating grass make them vomit? Which came first?
We don’t know. What’s more, not all dogs vomit when they eat grass. Approximately 25% of dogs will vomit if they eat grass. Only about 10% show signs of illness before they eat the grass.
So, some dogs might eat grass to induce vomiting. The more likely scenario is one of the others: they eat grass from habit, instinct, curiosity, or some combination of these factors.
So if your dog is just curious and possibly seeking attention with that grass-eating habit, is it really a problem if your dog eats grass?
Unfortunately, it’s still not a good idea for your dog to eat grass. The two primary concerns are pesticides and fecal matter in grass.
A perfectly green lawn is not natural. If your dog has found a patch of the well-manicured green stuff, it’s almost guaranteed to contain pesticides. Hundreds of millions of gallons of pesticides are used on American lawns every year.
Signs of pesticide poisoning in dogs may include:
Acute pesticide poisoning requires emergency veterinary care. But even small quantities of pesticides can cause digestive distress or other problems for dogs.
As for fecal matter in lawns, dogs often get curious about the fecal matter of other animals. Intestinal illnesses, like the parvovirus, get transmitted this way. Fecal material can also contain eggs or larvae from other animals. When a dog eats this material, parasites can grow in their organs.
Dogs can help prevent these deadly viruses and parasites by getting vaccinated and also taking a monthly dewormer.
So if your dog should not eat grass, and you don’t want to reward them with attention (and thereby encourage grass eating), how do you stop your dog from eating grass?
Here are some tips to help your pup break the grass habit:
Positive reinforcement works better than punishing your dog.
Try giving your dog pet CBD treats for good behavior. Our Bad Dog CBD treats can also help calm your dog and restore homeostasis, so they might have less inclination to go eating potentially toxic grass.
If you try all of these things and your dog still insists on eating grass, stick with grass you know. If you grow your own yard chemical-free, and you clean up your pet’s fecal matter, it should be fine for Fido to munch on a few backyard blades of grass.