Some dogs just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to sampling grass in a field, during a long walk, or in their own yard.  Most pet owners admit their dogs munch on grass from time to time, but many are unsure whether this behavior is normal, or even safe.  The reasons for your pet occasionally acting more like a cow than a dog are discussed below.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

There are numerous reasons why your pet may “veg out” and munch on grass in your backyard.  This behavior is extremely common, and has even been observed in wild dogs.  The exact reason is unknown, but can often be linked to boredom, a nutritional deficiency, or due to an upset stomach (excess grass consumption can lead to vomiting, thereby making the dog temporarily feel better).  However, even completely healthy dogs consume grass (and do not vomit), so this theory cannot be true for all cases.  One theory is that dogs may simply be seeking more fiber or nutrients in their diets.  Interestingly, some studies have suggested that dogs are naturally driven to eat grass in order to keep intestinal parasites at bay.  Even though parasites are no longer a problem for most modern-day pets thanks to monthly preventatives, some animals may have held onto this evolutionary habit.  No matter the reason, veterinarians consider grass eating to be normal canine behavior.

Is Eating Grass Safe?

There is no cause for alarm when your pet consumes grass – so long as grass is the only plant being consumed.  Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can be harmful for dogs, especially when consumed in mass quantity.  Avoid chemically treating your yard if your pet is prone to grass chewing, and never allow your pet to consume plant matter from areas you are unfamiliar.  Dog owners should also beware that common household plants are highly toxic to dogs.  If your pet does not discriminate and will sample leaves from other sources, know that aloe, azaleas, daffodils, caladium, ivy, jade, lilies, philodendron, and tulips are all highly toxic to dogs.

Furthermore, when dogs eat grass they occasionally have trouble passing it through their digestive system during bowel movements.  If this ever happens to your dog, avoid the urge to help move things along by pulling the plant from your dog’s rear end.  Doing so could lead to intestinal harm, and it is better to allow the plant to pass naturally.

Should My Dog See a Veterinarian?

While there is little reason to be alarmed if your dog’s grass eating behavior is consistent, it never hurts to speak with a veterinarian if your pet begins to engage in this behavior out of the blue.  If your dog displays other symptoms, such as gulping at the air and restlessness before running outside to gorge on grass until vomiting, your pet may be experiencing gastric reflux or IBS and can be prescribed medications.  Ultimately, however, your pet is most likely just being a dog, with no corrective action required.

Does your dog eat grass? If so why do you think they do?