If you’re a dog owner, chances are you’ve seen your dog eating grass at some point. You may have dismissed it as pent-up aggression, or simply a desire to taste some free vegetation.
Some people think it’s because a dog isn’t feeling well and they want to make themselves throw up, but it turns out that this isn’t true in most cases. Other suggested theories are that it helps them digest something, because they have intestinal worms, because they have an unmet nutritional need like lack of fiber, because they are bored, or possibly because they just like the way it tastes or feels to chew on.
Let’s take a few moments to look into the possible “why” behind dogs eating grass!
What does science have to say?
Many believe that dogs eat grass to help with lack of fiber or other issues that may cause gastrointestinal distress. In this study, researchers found that while dogs don’t “self medicate” with grass for diarrhea, they may for other gastro issues. They also showed that dogs do not eat grass to make themselves vomit, a common misconception.
In another study, 68% of dogs were reported to eat plants on a daily or weekly basis with the remainder eating plants once a month or less.
- Grass was the most frequently eaten plant by 79% of dogs and 9% were reported to frequently appear ill before eating plants.
- 22% were reported to frequently vomit afterwards.
- No relationship was found between sex, gonadal status, breed group or diet type with regard to frequency or type of plants eaten, a younger age was significantly associated with:
- increase in frequency of plant eating
- increase in consuming non-grass plants
- decrease in regularly showing signs of illness before eating plants
- decrease in regularly vomiting after consuming plants
So why do they do it in the first place?
The findings of these and other scientific studies support the perspective that plant eating is a normal behavior of domestic dogs and generally isn’t something for dog owners to worry about.
Serious safety concerns:
There are many types of grass and plants that are non toxic to dogs (such as hemp), but there are a number of common grass and plant species that are toxic or otherwise harmful for dogs. Another very important factor is that many plants are treated with chemicals such as fertilizer and pest/weed control solutions like Round-Up that have been shown to cause serious harm to dogs when ingested.
Here are a few non-grass plants dogs should NEVER eat:
- Sago Palms (or Palms in general)
- Tomato Plant
- Aloe Vera
- American Holly
- Baby’s Breath
- Castor Bean
If you notice a decline in your dog’s health and he is presenting with any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet immediately or seek help with animal poison control at 888-426-4435.