Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Most dog owners have watched their dog engage in this habit, but we often can’t quite pinpoint the reason why they’re doing it. There are plenty of possible reasons you might find your dog (or cat) munching on grass, so let’s take a look at them:

Health Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass

Digestive Aid

Some experts suggest that consuming grass can help pets vomit and relieve digestive discomfort. The grass can irritate the stomach lining, causing the pet to vomit, which may help expel any indigestible material or toxins.

Fiber Fix

Fiber is an essential component of a balanced diet, aiding in digestion and maintaining gut health. Grass contains dietary fiber, which of course helps regulate bowel movements. If a pet is not getting enough fiber from their regular food, they may turn to grass as a natural source of this crucial nutrient.

Nutritional Gaps

Some experts speculate that pets may eat grass to fill in nutritional gaps in their diets. If a pet’s regular food lacks certain vitamins, minerals, or other essential nutrients, they might instinctively seek out alternative sources to meet their dietary needs.

Removal of Parasites

Another intriguing theory is that pets eat grass as a natural way to rid themselves of intestinal parasites. Some types of grass contain natural anti-parasitic compounds that help pets expel parasites from their digestive tracts. This self-medication behavior might be an ancient survival instinct.

Instinctual Carnivores

Cats and dogs are carnivores by nature, and their diets primarily consist of meat. However, they may consume grass to compensate for a lack of certain nutrients, such as folic acid, which is found in plants. This could be their way of balancing their diet and fulfilling specific nutritional requirements.

Behavioral Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass

A Natural Instinct

A commonly accepted explanation for why pets eat grass is that it’s a natural instinct inherited from their wild ancestors. In the wild, canids (dogs’ ancestors) and felids (cats’ ancestors) often consumed plant material as part of their diet. This behavior was believed to help them obtain essential nutrients, fiber, and even purge unwanted substances from their digestive systems.

Boredom and Anxiety

Just like humans, pets can get bored or anxious, and they may turn to chewing on things, including grass, to alleviate stress or pass time. If your pet is cooped up indoors for long periods, they might seek out the excitement of exploring the great outdoors and tasting some fresh greens.

Attraction to Texture and Taste

Sometimes, it’s as simple as that – pets eat grass because they find it interesting in terms of texture and taste. Grass is abundant, readily available, and can be enticing to pets due to its fresh, earthy aroma and crunchy texture.

It’s a Social Thing

In households with multiple pets, one pet observing another munching on grass may be inspired to join in the behavior. Pets often mimic each other and eating grass can become a shared social activity amongst pet companions.

It Just Tastes Good!

Sometimes, there doesn’t need to be a complex explanation. Some pets just like grass! Just as humans prefer certain foods, pets might develop a liking for the fresh, green blades of grass in their environment.

Once we understand why our pet might be ingesting grass, it’s easier to prevent. One step pet owners can take is introducing more fiber into your fur baby’s diet. There are dry dog foods and cat foods that have increased amounts of fiber. If you want to get funky, you could also try healthy snacks such as broccoli, carrots, or string beans to lower digestion and ensure that your dog is obtaining the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and strong. As a result, this can help decrease your pet’s desire to munch outside.

While occasional grass consumption is generally considered harmless, it’s essential to monitor your pet’s behavior and ensure they aren’t overindulging in grass, or consuming toxic plants or poop. If you notice that your pet is eating excessive amounts of grass or experiencing any adverse effects, consult with a veterinarian to rule out underlying health issues.

If you need help keeping your backyard free of poop, consider hiring a pooper scooper service (click here to read about ours!).

Additional Resources:

Champion Feed and Pet Supply | How to Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Grass 

Berthoud Animal Hospital | Why do Dogs Eat Grass?

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/pet-insurance/pet-care/why-dogs-eat-grass/