My dog eats grass — is that ok?
Spring has sprung. As you get into the great outdoors, does it seem as though every lawn is your dog’s personal salad bar?
If so, you might be wondering, “Why is my dog eating grass?” or “Should I let my dog eat grass?!” You might be especially curious if, after seeming so desperate to eat grass, your dog pretty much immediately pukes it all up again.
Hmm. Well, here’s the thing. Dogs are opportunistic omnivores. That means they are largely carnivorous and their bodies are mostly suited to pull nutrients from meat. In fact, your dog’s body needs the amino acid taurine that they can ONLY get from meat and fish.
But, your dog’s body is also able to benefit from nutrients pulled from plant matter. And since dogs, like people, have their own favorite textures and tastes, this is why some pups love a good fruit or veggie treat like apples or carrots!
Still, do dogs benefit from eating plants, like the grass you pass by on your daily walks? In some ways, they do!
Cool grass as a hydration station.
So why do dogs eat grass? Turns out that many dogs eat grass because grass is a delicious and cool food source that can be loaded with H2O for hydration. You may notice your dog likes to chomp on grass that’s in deep, cool shade. That’s grass that’s likely to be moist and cooling. Consider offering your dog a drink of actual H2O — they may be dehydrated.
A taste for grass may be in your dog’s genes.
Eating grass is within the range of normal dog behavior — and we mean from way back. There are several species of wild dogs that commonly eat grass. Researchers at UC Davis found that wild animals such as wolves and cougars often have varying percentages of grass materials in their fecal matter.
In undomesticated predators, it is theorized that eating grass helps entangle and remove intestinal parasites. And while domesticated dogs are treated with preventative medicines for parasites, the desire to munch down on some grass may well be written into their DNA.
Dogs don’t eat grass for tummy ache.
Many people think that if a dog eats grass all of a sudden, it’s because they have a tummy ache. But grass doesn’t necessarily calm an upset tummy. Lawnmower dogs often love to munch on some fresh green grass because they like the taste.
Should I stop my dog from eating grass?
If you’re wondering whether it’s safe when your dog eats grass, the answer is yes and no. If your dog eats the grass in your lawn, then you know how that grass is cared for. Some grasses may have harmful chemicals sprayed on them, which can be toxic.
Also, some grasses may be harder on your dog’s system than others. Some grasses have seeds or pods that can be harmful if swallowed. One example is Foxtails — they can cause some drama for your best pal’s insides, so try to avoid them.
What if my dog is eating grass all of a sudden?
As with many other things, it’s important to keep an eye out for any changes in your pup’s behaviour. If your pup has never really shown an interest in grass and is suddenly mowing your lawn, it may be important to check out his or her gastro-intestinal health, and talk to your vet about possible deficiencies in your dog’s diet.
If my dog is desperate to eat grass, what can I do?
First, speak to your vet about your dog’s diet. Adding in fresh, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods can be greatly beneficial in introducing enough prebiotics into the system to maintain a happy gut balance. Brands like A Pup Above offer meat-forward whole food nutrition, with a handy sampler pack you can use to find your dog’s favorite flavors.
Next, consider adding more roughage and fiber to your pup’s diet. Green veggies, like green beans, are a great way to do this. You can also sprinkle fresh parsley or mint onto your dog’s food for that green flair — and fresher breath, too.
Lastly, you can get out there and practice your green thumb abilities by growing some safe grass just for your pup!
Great sprouts to grow for your favorite canine include alfalfa and sunflower, sprouted greens that are packed with nutrients. Alfalfa sprouts contain more vitamin A than most fruits. Alfalfa, wheat, rye, and sunflower sprouts are all abundant sources of thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin your dog can enjoy.
Just have fun with it.
A dog who eats grass can be no problem so long as you are tending to your dog’s hydration, nutrition, and overall behavioral signs. It’s common for dogs to enjoy a mouthful or two of tender, moisture-rich grasses — just be sure the grass they are chomping is as green and non-toxic as possible. And if you decide to grow your dog their own “pawsonal” salad bar, have a great time gardening with your pup!