Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?
This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT
Good news! It’s completely normal for dogs to eat grass. Most dogs simply enjoy it’s fresh taste. Sometimes eating grass can be a sign of physical or emotional distress. In this article, I am going to teach you how to know the difference between normal grass eating and signs of distress and how to upgrade your dog’s grass eating experience.
What is normal?
First, let’s define what normal grass eating looks like. If your dog eats grass and maybe a few weeds occasionally (or daily) and doesn’t vomit or appear distressed, this is nothing to worry about. If this describes your dog, you can skip to the last section about upgrading your dog’s grass eating experience.
Is my dog’s stomach upset?
Eating grass followed by vomiting or drooling is not normal. Either the grass is making your pup vomit, or their stomach was feeling upset before they ate the grass. It’s important to figure out if the grass ingestion is the cause of the vomiting. To do this, try growing your own barley or wheat grass (see instructions below) and allow your dog to eat that instead. Barley and wheat grass is less likely to irritate your pet’s stomach compared with other varieties of grass. If your dog continues to vomit on the barley or wheat grass here are my recommendations:
- Test for parasites. Your veterinarian can easily check a poop sample for intestinal parasites. These little wormies can be irritating and cause nausea and vomiting. They are simple to treat and might help your dog feel so much better.
- Add fiber to your dog’s diet. You can use green beans, shredded carrots, squash or pumpkin. Start slowly! Too much pumpkin or squash can cause explosive orange diarrhea.
- Diagnostics. Talk to your vet about diagnostic tests to explore intestinal disease. For my patients, I start with an ultrasound of the intestines and blood panel from Texas A&M University that tests for intestinal and pancreatic disease. These are both non-invasive tests that can be done on the same day. To get the best results, make sure your don’t feed your dog (water is okay) for 12 hours before your appointment.
Is my dog bored?
Some dogs eat grass because there is simply nothing else to do. You will know this is the case for your dog if you give them other fun things to occupy them and they stop eating grass. Here are few suggestions:
- Food puzzles. These can keep your dog active both physically and mentally. Nina Ottosson makes the best puzzles and you can find them on Chewys.com.
- Walks. These are great for you both! Walking is a dog’s meditation. It improves both physical and mental health.
- Scent work. This is a fancy resume builder! You can teach your dog how to follow a scent. It is fun and easy! All you need are a few treats and several empty boxes. Check out this tutorial.
- Frozen Kongs. If you are short on time, try freezing a mixture of broth and treats in a Kong. You can check out my tutorial here.
How can I upgrade my dog’s grass eating experience?
If your dog enjoys grass, there are things you can do to make it healthier and safer.
- Avoid pesticides & herbicides. There are studies linking the use of lawn chemicals with increased risk of cancer in dogs. Make sure your pup isn’t snacking on anything that has been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
- Avoid obsessive eating. Some dogs eat so much grass that they create an obstruction in their intestines and require surgery. This is rare and requires A LOT of grass.
- Grow your own grass. Growing wheat or barley grass is so easy. You need three things: a shallow container, soil and seeds. You can also buy a kit like this one. Usually grass starts to grow within a couple days and you can have a crop ready to eat within a week.
You know your dog the best! If you are worried that your dog’s grass eating habit is a result of something more serious, talk with your veterinarian. You are your pet’s medical advocate!
I would love to hear from you! Does your dog eat grass? Tell me all about it in the comments below!