I don’t know about your dogs, but as soon as the grass starts to turn green in the spring, my dogs love to start chomping it. All three of my dogs love to eat grass, as well as guest doggies who come to stay for a while at my house. But what is it about grass that our dogs love so much?
I know there is a perception out there that our dogs don’t feel well if they start eating grass, and they’re trying to make themselves throw up, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true! I mean, cows pretty much survive on grass and people eat cereal grasses regularly, which include: barley, wheat and alfalfa among many others. It is also reported that some Irish people ate grass as a last resort during the Irish Potato Famine, though they couldn’t really digest it. But dogs’ stomachs work a little differently than ours. The cereal grasses that humans are able to digest are good for us, and give us energy and stamina. They can also help with common issues such as allergies, high blood pressure, fatigue, eczema, other skin issues, and many other health concerns.
Here are a few reasons that our dogs may decide to eat grass:
- Dogs are opportunistic scavengers, which means they’re not carnivores like our pet cats, but instead they eat whatever they happen to find around and that tastes good. Grass meets these requirements as an alternate, though not ideal, food source. (Just like the last few bites of my burrito at dinner time!)
- If our dog doesn’t like the weight loss diet we’ve put him on for his own good, then he may try to get a little extra snack by munching on some grass when he’s outside. Grass does provide a few extra calories!
- Eating grass may provide a little something different in a diet that never changes. It will have a different texture, different taste, and different smell than their regular kibble. If you want to provide your dog with more variety at mealtime, read this blog which discusses rotation diets, which I do with my dogs.
- If we are not feeding our dogs a proper diet, then they may eat grass to try to supplement their nutritional deficiencies on their own. Check your dog’s diet to make sure he’s getting everything he needs. Talk to your local Hollywood Feed sales associate to find out if your dog’s needs are being met.
- Grass may help relieve a gassy, nauseated or upset stomach by helping a dog to vomit by tickling his throat. This is especially true if our dogs are swallowing down entire blades of grass without chewing and savoring the flavor. The long blades are more likely to tickle and scratch the throat, inducing vomiting.
- Remember that dogs test new or interesting things out by sniffing and nibbling them. So, when dogs inevitably decide to eat something gross and then realize they made a mistake, it’s natural for them to be able to vomit easily when needed. Vomiting occasionally is normal for dogs.
- Sudden and ferocious grass eating may be a sign of illness and a reason to get our dogs in to see the vet. This is especially true if the grass eating is followed by vomiting and/or other symptoms are present, such as diarrhea or loss of appetite.
**Watch for accidental ingestion of herbicides or lawn care products. The magazine The Science of the Total Environment reported widespread findings of lawn chemicals in the urine of dogs and also reported that these findings are associated with a significantly higher risk for bladder cancer in dogs.
**Read more about How to Prevent Accidental Poisoning as we start working in our yards this Spring.
Most grass eating is normal for a variety of reasons and shouldn’t cause our dogs harm unless our grass is filled with chemicals, or unless other symptoms are present. I plan to let my dogs continue to enjoy their afternoon snack, since grass eating really seems to cause them joy!
Does your dog like to eat grass? Let us know in the comment section below!