Have you caught your dog eating grass and wondered why he does that? My Pug-Chihuahua mix loves to eat grass, and I often suspect there are different reasons she eats it. She often takes a leisurely approach, searching out long stems with tender seeds at the top.
However, other times (sometimes in the middle of the night), she urgently gets my attention to go outside, rush to the grass, and gobble it down. I suspect at those inopportune times she isn’t feeling well. We’re going to explain why do dogs eat grass and what, if anything, you need to do about it.
Reasons Why Your Dogs Eats Grass
Dogs may eat grass to settle their upset stomach. They may have eaten forbidden food and are looking for fast relief. It’s incredibly easy for a dog to get hold of something that won’t agree with them. My dog likes to vacuum up any crumbs found on the kitchen floor, and I suspect that sometimes she ingests something not so good for her, like a lick of bacon grease. She also scarfs up various tidbits during our walks. Favorites include goose droppings, cardboard, fireworks detritus, and more.
Other causes of stomach upset may include intestinal parasites, reactions to drugs, or gas. Below, we will explore some of these further. Eating grass often settles the stomach, and if your pet eats enough, it may cause them to vomit, which will expel the toxic food. The grass prickles the stomach lining and causes it to contract. This is nature’s way of handling toxins, just like in humans, and I suspect this is why my dog wakes me at night. Fortunately, a small percentage of dogs are eating grass for this reason.
Surprisingly, many dogs enjoy the sweet, nutty taste of grass, especially the tender seed portion at the top. My dog specifically hunts for long blades that have sprouted seeds. A dog may eat grass for nutritional reasons, such as adding fiber or a specific nutrient, especially if their dog food is deficient in one of these areas.
When to Seek Help
As your dog’s owner (or guardian, if you live in Boulder, CO), you want to always be vigilant about their current state of health and behavior. Many things can cause stomach upset. Did you test your dog for intestinal parasites? Your veterinarian can easily check for these. Is your pet eating their regular meals and drinking water? If your pet is very sick, specific signs will tell you it’s time to visit a veterinarian. Repetitive vomiting or blood in the vomit warrants a visit to the emergency vet.
When You Should Take Action
If your dog seems to be eating grass to fulfill an urgent need but doesn’t seem distressed, you may simply want to evaluate their diet and try some changes on your own. Your furry buddy may simply be looking for variety. If that’s the case, you can try changing the flavor or brand of the dog food. Any changes you make to his kibble need to happen gradually. You can slowly mix in increasing amounts of the new food. Maybe you want to try a raw food diet.
You should be able to find a variety of delectable meals, including lamb, chicken, and beef at your local pet store. Dogs are omnivores and like the variety of different meats, vegetables, and fruits. My dog likes sweet potatoes, green beans, and blueberries. You can also try adding probiotics or digestive enzymes to help with the digestive process. Your vet can recommend a brand for you. Keep in mind that certain probiotics require a prescription. Sometimes dogs need a snack in the evening to get them through the nighttime. When I first got my dog, she would sometimes dry-heave at night. Giving her a bigger-sized treat at bedtime solved that problem.
When You Should Let It Go
Lastly, you may need to do nothing. Your dog may simply be enjoying the delectable blades of green since they are adding fiber and nutrients to your dog’s diet. Many dogs find satisfaction in perusing their favorite grass patches in the yard. I like to watch my dog enjoying her grass on a sunny afternoon. Green grass and sun seem to go hand in hand in their restorative powers.
Is Your Grass Safe to Eat?
Though it is unlikely, be aware that there is a small probability of a grass blade becoming stuck inside your dog’s nasal cavity. This rare event actually happened to my dog, which caused her to have severe sneezing attacks. When blood droplets sprayed from her nose, we rushed her to the vet. She got an antihistamine and a drug to calm her system. We were fortunate that she was able to sneeze out the inch-long blade of grass a few days later.
Some brachycephalic breeds, such as Pugs and Boxers, may wheeze while they are eating grass. These breeds have flat faces and shorter noses, which makes them more susceptible to breathing issues. As long as it doesn’t last too long, this is normal. If breathing issues persist, see your veterinarian.
Allergies are another potential complication. Many dogs may be allergic to the very grass that they love to eat and roll upon. Grass pollen may be inhaled or even absorbed through their skin. This may cause wheezing, sneezing, scratching, rashes, watery eyes, and even diarrhea. You will want to schedule a vet appointment should you notice any of these signs. There are many options for dogs, including the well-known Benadryl or prescription-strength antihistamines. Just be aware that every drug has side effects and long-term effects, one being that they can compromise your dog’s immune system. Your vet can guide you through making this decision.
You will also want to make sure that your grass is safe to ingest. This means ensuring that it is pesticide and fertilizer-free. When we fertilize our grass, we make sure to put a large sign on the backdoor, warning against letting our dog out. If you live in a southern state, there is the added risk of termite treatments, which usually include a pesticide spray around your house’s perimeter. Be sure to check with your termite company about the safety concerns of their spray.
Also, many southerners put down ant killer and fungus spray. Read the bag labels for cautions and directions. Another option is to grow your pet’s own pot of grass that they may enjoy whenever they like, and could even do so indoors. This option may be useful for those living in extreme hot or cold climates. This might be kind of fun, like growing your own Chia pet from the ’80s.
As you can see, there are many answers to the question, “Why do dogs eat grass?” For most dogs, it is for the simple reason of pleasure and taste. For some dogs, it is for the relief of an upset belly.
As a dog owner, you need to ensure that your grass is safe to eat, but also determine if this behavior stems from a deeper underlying issue. You must put on your detective hat and decode your dog’s eating behavior. They will exhibit signs to help you decipher why they’re eating this luxurious green fiber. Most likely, your four-legged companion is just doing what dogs do.