Why Does My Dog Eat Grass?

This is one of the more complicated, but commonly discussed subjects that comes up during routine checkups. With a quick Google search, you can find a variety of answers that range from fairly straight forward explanations to complex, philosophical debates about the natural evolution of dogs and their digestive tracts. However, it is likely just as fair to say that dogs eat grass simply because they like the flavor or texture as it is to say that there is something in their omnivorous DNA that maintains a behavior. Researchers have even tried to investigate whether grass consumption follows behavior of gastrointestinal upset or whether it is the source of those symptoms. Regardless of where the true answer lies, we recommend that clients aim to limit and prevent the behavior altogether.

What are the Risks of Eating Grass?

We find that cause and effect arguments or categorizing behaviors as “good” or “bad” often helps clients to be more receptive to our recommendations, but this behavior is less about what immediate problems are occurring and more about what the behavior puts your dog (or cat) at risk for. Although eating grass rarely causes any significant issues other than vomiting and diarrhea (and the unfortunate clean-up that accompanies those), we try our best to advise clients that eating grass adds very little positive value to their pets’ overall health. That is to say, very little nutritional needs are met by eating grass that would not already be provided for by their diet.

puppy eating grass

Can Eating Grass Make My Dog Sick?

If this sort of behavior becomes a regular habit it increases the likelihood of several problems that almost always cost money and increase a client’s frustration given how easy it is to avoid the problem to begin with. Dogs that are prone to eating items outside rarely just eat grass. More often than not they will consume wood chips, acorns, sticks and other outdoor debris. Beyond the obvious risk of an internal obstruction, the most common problem has to do with the parasites that animals are exposed to while eating grass. Dogs are typically on heartworm prevention that covers roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm infections. These medications do a good job at preventing significant infections, but sometimes doses are missed and sometimes patients are habitual offenders.

While a dog or cat eating grass is not a cause for panic, it is something that we encourage owners to try and decrease so that other indirect issues do not occur. It serves as an important reminder that there is little value in this behavior and more opportunities to be aware of parasite prevention and avoiding what oftentimes goes from a medical issue to a surgical one.

Be Well.

Dr. Jablonski and the CCVC Team

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