Why do dogs eat grass?

If your dog eats grass, he’s not alone! Here’s what you need to know about this common canine behavior.

You’ve no doubt seen your pet munching away on your lawn. Most people think this is a sign that their pup has a stomach problem – and sometimes that may be true. The truth is, scientists and veterinarians have differing opinions as to why dogs eat grass.

Dogs aren’t carnivores

While your canine companion is primarily a meat-eater – he’s not entirely so. In fact, dogs are omnivores! They’ve been eating vegetables (grass included) since they separated from their wolf cousins and moved in with us about 14,000 years ago.

One theory is that domesticated dogs scarfed down some vegetable scraps while rummaging through the trash for food. Over thousands of years, it became a part of their diet.

Some scientists think this long-held tendency to have a little salad with the entree adds necessary roughage to the diet that meat alone cannot provide. Some think grass does indeed relieve tummy aches, especially among younger dogs.

Hurling hounds

The frequent question about dogs, grass, and vomiting brings up the old chicken-and-egg dilemma:

Does eating grass make dogs throw up? Or do dogs eat grass in order to throw up?

Scientists are divided on the question, and dogs are reluctant to divulge the reason.

One thing the scientific community agrees on is that grass-eating does not make most dogs throw up – only about 25 percent. Humans know much of that 25 percent is expended on carpets.

Dogs share one peculiarity with their human companions. It’s a condition called pica.  That’s a compulsive urge to eat things that aren’t food, including grass, paper, wood, and fabric. If you suspect your pet has this condition, consult a vet.

Tainted turf

Here’s something else to keep in mind as Fido feeds on your fescue.

Yards serve as bathrooms for pets, and eating grass contaminated by feces could create a health hazard. Keeping your yard as clean as possible can help keep this danger in check. It also keeps your landscape from showing doggie wear. Chemical pesticides also pose a danger. Read labels carefully to ensure they’re not dangerous to your pets.

Another possible reason dogs eat grass? They simply like it! It’s a break from the usual. Wouldn’t you look for a change if your meals came from the same bag day after day and month after month?

Most vets agree a moderate amount of grass grazing is not harmful. Frequent grass-eating could be a sign of some health problems, and you should consult a veterinarian. Also, keep in mind your yard probably contains plants other than grass. Many outdoor plants – and some indoor varieties – are poisonous to dogs. Pay close attention to what’s growing indoors and out.