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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

It's not uncommon to see dogs munching on grass during their daily walks or playtime in the park. This behavior often leaves pet owners puzzled, wondering why their canine companions engage in such activities. While there are many speculations, let's explore some scientific theories and myths surrounding this behavior.

Common Theories Behind Grass Eating in Dogs

1. Instinctive Behavior

Some scientists suggest that eating grass is an instinctive behavior inherited from dogs' wolf ancestors. Studies on wolves show that their diet can include 2-10% plant material. Wild canids, such as wolves, jackals, foxes, and coyotes, have also been observed eating grass, indicating that this might be a natural, evolutionary behavior.

2. Nutritional Supplementation

In some cases, dogs may eat grass to supplement a dietary deficiency. For example, an 11-year-old Miniature Poodle with a history of eating plants and vomiting had its behavior resolved once switched to a high-fiber diet. This suggests that some dogs might be trying to correct a lack of fiber or other nutrients by eating grass.

3. Normal Dog Behavior

Research from 2007 indicates that grass-eating is normal dog behavior and not necessarily a sign of illness. The study found that dogs were more likely to eat grass when hungry and less likely to do so later in the day. This supports the idea that grass-eating is a natural behavior rather than a symptom of a problem.

4. Soothing an Upset Stomach

Another theory is that dogs eat grass to soothe an upset stomach. However, studies show that dogs with gastrointestinal upset are less likely to eat grass. For instance, dogs fed a diet containing fructooligosaccharide (FOS), which causes loose stools, ate less grass than those on a standard diet.

5. Curiosity

Especially in younger dogs, grass-eating may simply be a part of exploring their environment. Similar to how children sometimes eat dirt, puppies might try eating grass out of curiosity and may develop a taste for it.

6. Attention-Seeking Behavior

Some dogs might eat grass to get attention from their owners. If a dog learns that eating grass results in more interaction, they may repeat the behavior to gain more attention or treats.

Does Grass Make Dogs Vomit?

A study recorded 709 grass-eating incidents and found only five episodes of vomiting. This suggests that dogs do not typically eat grass to induce vomiting. Another survey indicated that only 22% of dogs frequently vomited after eating grass, and younger dogs ate more grass than older dogs. Thus, grass-eating is not a reliable method for dogs to make themselves vomit.

Is Eating Grass Safe for Dogs?

Potential Risks

1. Pesticides

Grass treated with pesticides can be toxic to dogs. Signs of pesticide poisoning include excessive salivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. If you suspect your dog has ingested treated grass, seek veterinary attention immediately.

2. Fecal Contamination

Grass can be contaminated with fecal material from other animals, which can carry parasites and diseases like parvovirus. Ensuring your dog is on a monthly dewormer and receives regular fecal testing can help mitigate this risk.

How to Stop a Dog from Eating Grass

If you want to discourage your dog from eating grass, consider these tips:

  • Keep your dog on a leash: Control your dog's access to grass during walks.

  • Time outings wisely: Walk your dog after meals when their stomach is full.

  • Provide distractions: Use positive reinforcement to divert your dog's attention from grass to other behaviors, like fetching a ball or performing tricks for treats.

  • Grow safe grass: Provide grass at home that you know is free from pesticides and contaminants, allowing your dog to indulge safely.

Understanding why dogs eat grass can help you manage this behavior and ensure your pet stays healthy and safe. For more information and resources, visit

Dog eating grass
Dog eating grass


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