If you’ve ever noticed your pup munching on grass, you’re not alone. This is a common occurrence for many dog owners — you’re walking your pup or watching him do his business, and all of a sudden, he takes a bite out of the lawn.
This can happen with grass, dirt, plants, and other non-food elements. The technical term for this is pica: eating things that aren’t food.
In fact, 79% of dog owners surveyed in a small-scale study said their dog has eaten plants. You might be wondering — what’s the reason? Do they actually like the taste? Are they hungry?
Your pooch may be doing this for any number of reasons. Let’s dive into why dogs eat grass and how you can avoid it during your next outdoor activity.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
While eating grass is a common activity for dogs, it’s important to understand why they do it.
Some experts suggest that dogs eat grass because of a nutritional deficiency. A pup that is lacking fiber or suffering from a digestive issue like intestinal worms, for example, may retreat to eating grass or other plants. This self-soothing behavior proposes that biologically, dogs are wired to balance their own gut by consuming good bacteria that they otherwise wouldn’t get from conventional dog foods.
The AKC, however, states that even if your dog has a well-balanced diet, grass eating still might be part of the picture.
Occasionally, dogs will resort to eating grass when they’re bored. Maybe you took your pooch on a walk to the park and sat down for a picnic or you’re hanging out together in the backyard. If he gets antsy and needs something to do, he might start munching away on the grass. When this happens, you can take that as an indication that your pup might need a little bit more mental or physical stimulation. Whether you bring out a chew toy or start playing a game of fetch, it’s important to give your dog the exercise and attention he needs to thrive.
They like the taste
Although this explanation isn’t very scientific in nature, it’s relatively simple — your pup might just like the taste! As descendants of wolves, dogs can often mimic foraging behavior by grazing outdoors.
While experts say most grass-eating behavior is harmless, it’s important to watch your pup carefully and be aware of any negative consequences. Puppies, for example, might start to chew on grass when they are teething. Avoid this as much as possible, as eating grass and plants can cause blockage in your puppy’s developing body. Additionally, if you notice a sudden significant increase in your dog’s grass-eating tendency, that might indicate a larger health problem or nutritional deficiency. In that case, it’s best to consult your vet to rule out any medical conditions.
It’s also important to keep in mind that many yards are often maintained with fertilizer and other chemicals that could be harmful to your dog’s health, so when in doubt, it’s best to avoid the grass eating as much as possible.
How to Stop Your Pooch From Eating Grass
In addition to giving your pooch enough exercise and attention, making sure that your pup gets all the nutritional needs from his diet is equally as important. The truth is, most dog foods don’t give your dog an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.
Ensuring that your dog has enough fiber in his diet is one way to help lessen the grass eating. Foods like whole grains, oats, pumpkin, and fruits and veggies provide dogs with adequate sources of fiber if their food isn’t giving them enough.
We also recommend giving your dog a daily probiotic to help promote the growth of good gut bacteria. These Digestive Support Chews promote intestinal health and nutrient absorption, while also helping keep your pooch regular. There are also Keep Grass Green Chews, which not only promote a healthy digestive system, but also balance the amount of nitrogen in your dog’s urine to reduce yellow spots in your grass.
Even though we don’t always know why dogs eat grass, next time you catch your pup eating grass, chat with your vet about the fiber content in your dog’s diet and ask if a probiotic would help keep Fido healthy.