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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

You’ve probably noticed your dog or puppy chowing down on some fresh, green grass more than a few times. Pups will do this when they’re let out to chill in the backyard, when they’re on a hiking trail, at the dog park, or simply walking down the sidewalk. Even wild dogs eat grass! It might seem a little strange to see your doggie chewing a “non-food” item like grass, but there’s a reason why they’re so keen on dining on this green stuff.  

Why Dogs Eat Grass

According to veterinarians from the Veteran Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), most dogs on a well-balanced, commercial dog diet aren’t nutritionally deficient. So what makes them so compelled to make grass their snack du jour? There are a few theories: 

It’s in Their DNA

Remember how we mentioned that wild dogs eat grass, too? One theory says that dogs eat grass because, historically, that's what they needed for a more nutritionally complete diet before humans came along with fancy bowls and gourmet feasts. (Specifically, the belief is that they eat grass to add more fiber to their diet.) Dogs are omnivores, meaning their bodies require both meat and plants to thrive. This act of eating grass may be a leftover evolutionary hangering. This may be why puppies eat grass too. 

They Have an Upset Tummy 

The verdict is still out on this theory for why dogs eat grass, but it’s worth discussing. Some experts believe that dogs may eat grass to soothe an upset stomach, but others dispute this belief, saying that dogs aren’t intelligent enough to know how to treat their ailments. (We hope you covered their ears for that one.) To bolster this point, studies have found that only 11% of dogs exhibit signs of illness before eating grass. 

Grass May Improve Digestion

Another reason why dogs eat grass is that doing so can help improve their digestion. While it’s true that grass is fibrous and can aid in the digestional tract. “A lack of roughage affects the dog’s ability to digest food and pass stool, so grass may actually help their bodily functions run more smoothly,” notes the VCA. 

As an interesting anecdote, a 2007 study that focused on a miniature poodle noted that the dog ate grass and vomited every day for seven years. Three days after trying a more fiber-rich diet, the owner reported that the dog became entirely disinterested in eating grass.  

They’re Coping With Anxiety or Boredom

Some dogs may chow down on grass as a way to alleviate anxiety or boredom. And before you think that sounds too strange to be true, remember back to the last time you sat down with a pint of ice cream after a long day at work! To curb your dog’s grass-eating, consider ways that you might be able to help them overcome feelings of anxiousness, stress, or boredom.

Grass Tastes Good & They’re Feeling Snacky  

It’s entirely possible that dogs eat grass simply because it tastes good or feels good in their mouth. A snack that’s so accessible is almost too tempting.

Should You Let Your Dog Eat Grass?

If you know that the grass hasn’t been treated with chemicals or pesticides, then allowing your dog to nibble on grass every once in a while isn’t a bad thing. However, these sorts of prevalent chemicals can be toxic, leading to upset canine tummies or other complications. For that reason, you should curb your dog in areas where you’re unsure of how the grass is maintained. Also, be mindful of the types of greenery they’re eating. While grass is generally safe, many indoor and outdoor plants are toxic to dogs. 

If you notice your pup eating more grass than usual, or if you’re concerned about their grass-eating behavior in general, consult your veterinarian. 

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