Dogs commonly eat grass and we as owners often wonder why they do.
The answer is that there are as many explanations to this behaviour as there are grass munching pooches. One theory, and something that dog owners are often concerned about, is that their dog may have some dietary deficiency. Linked to this theory is that the dogs wild ancestors ate all of an animal when they caught it so they would eat a lot of the grass and plants in the intestines of their prey. However, studies dismiss that most pets have nutrients missing from their diets. It is likely that grass may be used as a digestive aid: an emetic, laxative, de-wormer or to provide roughage. As grass is part of a normal ‘wild’ diet, it is likely that that our pet dogs eat it as an instinctive behaviour. Dogs eat grass in very different ways. Some dogs only eat grass when they are not feeling well, and then rapidly vomit it back up. It does seem that grass is an important natural emetic in these cases, especially if they have gastritis or enteritis (tummy upset). If your dog’s grass eating is a new behaviour and is frequent or the vomiting does not settle quickly, it is very important to have us check this out. However, many dogs regularly eat grass and do not vomit. Of these some nibble and chew a few carefully selected blades, while others happily ‘lawn mow’ through vast quantities of grass. A recent animal behaviour research on grass eating found no link to diet or long-term history of gastrointestinal disease. Some dogs were reported to only eat grass if they had a recent stomach or intestinal upset but most seemed to eat grass because they liked it! So if your dog is a regular grass eater, ensure that you worm them regularly and check they are on the correct diet including type, amount fed and frequency. Beyond this, behaviour is the most likely explanation; be it some instinctive enjoyment of the taste, flavour or action of the grass eating. So aside from the obvious need to avoid freshly sprayed or fertilized lawns, grass munching is just a harmless and enjoyable thing that ‘dogs do’.