Theories About Why Dogs Eat Grass

Puppy eating grass

You don't see dogs eating grass everyday, but in some dogs this can be a sign of a health change. The grass is generally not harmful to dogs, but some people theorize that dogs are driven to eat grass when they have an upset stomach. Find out more about why dogs eat grass and if you should ask the veterinarian about your pet's habit.

About Dogs Eating Grass

Dogs are mainly carnivores, but they can and do eat plants and vegetables. A dog may end up eating grass when he explores outside. Raw grass is not toxic to dogs unless it is treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. So if your dog starts eating it, don't panic. That said, a large number of dogs do vomit immediately after consuming the grass. The exact reason why dogs eat grass and why it makes some dogs throw up is still basically unknown.

Theories About Dogs and Grass Consumption

For years, dog owners and veterinarians believed that dogs with upset stomachs ate grass to induce vomiting or that the grass upset some dogs' digestive systems. Yet, according to Valley Vet Pet, a study at the University of California-Davis's Center for Companion Animal Health examined 1,500 dogs that had consumed grass at least ten times over the course of a year to get more definitive answers. The study found that less than nine percent were sick prior to eating the grass, and less than one in four vomited after consuming the grass. The researchers determined that grass consumption is most likely a trait that modern dogs have inherited from their wolf ancestors which also ate grass occasionally. Scientists believe wolves generally eat grass to help them purge internal parasites and prevent the parasites from building up in their systems.

When Grass Consumption May Signal an Illness

Owners who occasionally catch their dogs eating grass can relax a bit once they understand that this behavior is fairly normal and usually harmless. However, it still pays to watch for any change in a dog's general behavior and habits after he consumes that grass. If your dog becomes lethargic, has diarrhea, has problems defecating or urinating, or shows any other signs of illness right before or shortly after eating grass, you should ask your veterinarian to evaluate your pet's health. While grass is unlikely the cause of any illness, any change in eating habits and behavior sometimes indicates a problem. A veterinarian can examine the dog to try to determine exactly what's going on.

Preventing Dogs From Eating Grass

Since grass consumption is basically harmless, there is no reason to prevent your dog from eating it unless he eats an unusually large amount of it each time he goes out or it always causes vomiting. Of course, never let a dog eat or play on grass that has been treated with harmful chemicals to kill pests or weeds.

If you want to prevent your dog from eating grass, you can do the following:

  • Use the "No," command every time the dog tries to eat the grass.
  • Do not leave your pet unsupervised in a grassy area.
  • When your dog is unsupervised, keep him in an area outside that doesn't have grass. You can also set up a kennel run and cover the grassy floor with flooring or outdoor carpeting.

Ask your veterinarian for recommendations and assistance if your dog continues to consume an excessive amount of grass.

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Theories About Why Dogs Eat Grass