So your dog eats grass…
… well, you’re most definitely not alone!
Most dog owners will, at some point, see their pooch nibble on a few blades of grass. And for some dogs, it may even be a frequent thing.
Is it okay?
Well it’s okay in the sense that technically grass won’t harm them, but there are things lurking in the grass that could…
- Spray treatments like pesticides or herbicides
- Intestinal parasites, like hookworms or roundworms, left in the faeces from other animals
So unless you absolutely know the grass is organic, it’s a good idea to stop your furry friend from munching away to his heart’s content…
Easier said than done I know, but it is possible.
- But first you’ll need to understand why your dog might be eating grass
- Then depending on step 1, you can implement a stragegy to stop the behaviour
While it remains a bit of a mystery exactly why dogs do eat grass, there are a few theories…
Think back to your dog’s ancestors, they didn’t have pre-packaged food or someone to prepare it for them. They scavenged. And they ate all of what they killed. Including the stomach contents of their prey.
Which meant, yep you guessed it, they consumed grass that their prey would have eaten. This grass and plants met the dog’s fibre needs.
Of course, your dog should get a healthy balanced diet through the food you provide, but that doesn’t mean that his instincts aren’t still there to scavenge.
2. Nutritional need
Another theory is based on the dog eating grass to help digestion. The added fibre helps his body digest better which keeps it functioning well i.e., regular poops!
So it may be worth taking a look at his diet to check he’s getting enough fibre.
3. Anxiety or loneliness
If a dog is left alone outside for long periods of time or is neglected or has separation anxiety, eating grass could be a bit of a comfort blanket for him.
Dogs are social by nature and don’t like to be left alone for long. So if you are having to leave your pooch alone quite a bit, investigate other solutions. Doggy daycare being one option. Friends, family, or neighbours another. Dog walkers and house sitters a third.
You don’t need to fill every second you’re not with him, but a good 70% of the time is advised (the other 30% he’ll probably sleep if he’s had enough mental and physical stimulation!).
4. Upset tummy
This one tends to be what everyone assumes is the reason dogs eat grass – to relieve an upset tummy.
Actually, that’s not been scientifically proven. Because through the research it’s not clear whether the dog had an upset tummy before eating grass, or the opposite, the dog was sick because of eating grass.
While it’s true, grass has no nutritional value so it certainly could make a dog ill. As per point #2, it could also provide fibre that’s missing from his diet to help him digest food better.
5. They like it!
And finally, it could be that dogs just like eating grass. Maybe it tastes good. Or simply because it’s there!
How can you stop grass-eating behaviour?
Just like you’ve trained your dog to ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘leave’, you’ll teach him not to eat grass, but first you need to understand why he’s eating it…
If it’s loneliness, make sure he’s with people or other animals more often than not.
If it’s boredom, make sure he’s getting enough exercise – both physical and mental.
If it’s because he’s not getting enough fibre, adjust his diet (though do consult with a vet or canine nutritionist for any big diet changes as breed, age, and underlining health concerns do need to be taken into account).
If it’s instinctive, redirect the focus. Play a new game or give them a new chew toy to keep them entertained.
But don’t be lax. If you’re concerned at the extent to which he’s eating grass, or he’s vomiting more, has diarrhoea, isn’t eating, losing weight, or you notice blood in his poop, head to your vet immediately. There could be something more sinister at play.