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Why do dogs eat grass?

Why do dogs eat grass?

Does your dog eat a healthy meal then head outside and begin eating grass? Does your dog eat grass, vomit, and then keep eating grass? Here, our Mechanicsburg vets share some of the physical and psychological reasons dogs eat grass, and when you should be concerned about this behavior.

Why Dogs Eat Grass

Concerned dog owners are often left scratching their heads wondering why their dogs seem to love eating grass. In fact, many dogs will eat grass, vomit, and then go right back to eating grass again. 

Does this behavior mean that the dog feels that there is something in their stomach that needs to be brought up, has the dog eaten something poisonous, or is the dog self-treating some undiagnosed medical issue? 

Although not all dogs vomit after eating grass, some do. In actuality, the majority of dogs that eat grass do so without displaying any signs of upset stomachs before or afterward. This seems to suggest that it's unlikely for dogs to consume grass in order to cause vomiting. Why do they do it, then?

Physical Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass

Like humans, dogs must consume fiber in their diets to maintain a healthy digestive system. Dogs, after all, are omnivores. As a result, both high-quality plant foods and meat depend on good health. For dogs, eating grass may be a simple and ostensibly tasty way to add roughage to their diet, which will keep things moving through their GI or digestive tract.

That said, if your dog is eating grass but also showing signs of stomach discomfort, there may be a medical problem. Dogs can suffer from a number of GI issues including gastric reflux, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. If your dog is eating grass, and has other symptoms such as lack of appetite, decreased energy, diarrhea, or constipation, it's time to see your vet.

Psychological Reasons Why Dogs Eat Grass

Dogs frequently eat grass because they are bored or anxious, similar to people who mindlessly bite their nails. Consider psychological explanations for your dog's behavior if they continue to eat grass despite showing no signs of digestive problems.

If your dog seems bored, increasing the length, distance, or intensity of walks could help to reduce grass eating.

For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, try leaving an old blanket or t-shirt with your scent on it with your dog when you leave the house. Your dog may find the familiar scent reassuring and help to curb grass eating. 

Some dogs show obsessive behaviors. If your dog is obsessively eating grass, it's time to see your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to advise you on how to help your dog reduce obsessive behaviors.

Is it safe for my dog to eat grass?

For dogs that are otherwise healthy and on regular parasite prevention medication, eating grass is considered to be safe.

To keep your grass-grazing dog healthy, make sure that there are no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers on the grass your dog nibbles. Herbicides and lawn chemicals, particularly in the summer, can be harmful to dogs. It's crucial to carefully read the labels when selecting a weed killer. We'll discuss canine herbicide poisoning and what to do if your dog consumes grass that has been tainted with potentially dangerous weed killers.

What weed killers should I avoid?

If you have pets, you should generally avoid the following ingredients when looking for a pet-safe weed killer:

  • Disulfoton
  • Sodium Arsenite
  • Metaldehyde
  • Ammonium Sulfamate
  • Borax

The majority of trustworthy dog-friendly weed killers will be prominently advertised, and if you're still unsure, your veterinarian can offer guidance.

What are the symptoms of weed killer poisoning

There is a good chance that your dog has consumed weed killer if they exhibit any of the symptoms listed below. Consult your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian if you see:

  • Burns or sores around their mouth, nose or paws
  • A rash or itchy skin
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Strained breathing
  • Restlessness or abnormal behaviour
  • Fits or seizures
  • Excessive drooling

If you have any worries, get in touch with your vet right away. To examine its components in greater detail, bring the chemical bottle to the veterinarian. Knowing how much contaminated grass your dog has consumed and when they did so is also useful. Did they eat until you told them to stop or did they only have a quick nibble?

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing symptoms of gastrointestinal tract upset contact our Mechanicsburg emergency vets right away.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center you never need an appointment to access our full complement of emergency services. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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