Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

A Shiba Inu sitting in the grass

If you've ever asked the question, "Why do dogs eat grass?" you may have heard answers that cover everything from boredom and hunger to being sick. However, eating grass is actually a normal behaviour for dogs, and most dogs will eat grass at some point in their lives. Here's an overview of why your dog may be eating grass and what you need to do about it.

Why Is My Dog Eating Grass?

There are many reasons your dog may be eating grass, but a few of the most common include:

  • They like the taste. While it may not seem palatable to humans, some dogs just genuinely like the taste or texture of grass. If this is your dog, you may find that it's a behaviour you just have to accept unless it's causing other issues, such as gastrointestinal upset.
  • It may be part of their natural diet. Some people believe that eating grass might be a normal part of dogs' diets because of the way they evolved. This is based on the fact that when wild canids — including wolves and foxes — eat prey, they consume what's in the intestines of that prey, which would have been grass and other plants. Wolves and foxes have also been known to eat certain plants and berries, which may also indicate that occasional grass eating is a normal dog behaviour.
  • It can induce vomiting. Some pet owners may notice that their dog is more likely to eat grass when they have an upset or gassy stomach. One reason for this may be that grass can help induce vomiting and help get whatever is upsetting out of their stomachs.

While grass may not be harmful to your pet, other plants can be deadly. So if you see your dog eating other types of plant material or not acting like themselves after eating grass — which may also be sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, — it's important to talk with your veterinarian. You may also want to keep your dog from eating grass in other people's yards, as you don't know what it might have been treated with.

If your dog likes to eat grass, it's important to not use any products on your lawn that could be harmful to pets. In some cases, it may be helpful to provide a grass plant indoors that is in a more controlled environment if your dog continues to want to eat grass. Some sprouts are available that are a healthy alternative as they contain digestible enzymes, vitamins and minerals and can be easily grown on your balcony.

3 Tips to Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Grass

While it's generally agreed that occasional grass eating is fine for dogs, there are some things you can do to curb this behaviour if it's bothersome to you. Keep in mind that it still may not be possible to entirely eliminate grass eating, and it will take lots of repetition to get your dog to understand that you don't want them eating their leafy greens.

1. Distract Them

While your backyard doesn't need to be a dog amusement park, giving your pet a few things to do can keep them distracted enough to stay away from eating grass. Some ideas for this might include putting a sprinkler out for dogs who love the water, hiding a few new toys in the yard (rotate out toys to keep things fresh) and playing fetch. For high-energy breeds, a backyard obstacle course with weaving poles or a doggy tunnel can amp up the play factor.

2. Provide Tasty Alternatives

Giving your dog something else to eat when they're outside can help keep them away from the grass. Keeping a stash of treats that you only pull out to distract your dog from grass is one option, but it's important to be careful about overfeeding treats, which can lead to obesity in dogs and other health problems. In the summer, ice cubes are also a fun and affordable way to keep your dog entertained and help them cool off.

3. Limit Unsupervised Outside Time

If your dog insists on eating grass when they're outside, you may need to take a more hands-on approach to yard time. Being able to be outside with them as they go to the bathroom or run around can ensure you're able to provide redirection when your dog starts to eat grass. Focusing on leashed walks and inside activities, such as playing hide and seek with treats and toys, can help ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise to get their excess energy out, which can also help in cases of grass eating related to boredom.

While the above tips can help you curb grass-eating behaviour if it bothers you, unless your dog has another issue related to this habit, it's not something that has to be addressed. Eating grass occasionally is normal for dogs and isn't something to be concerned about. Learn more about what's normal and what's not when it comes to dog behaviour by checking out Purina Canada's articles on understanding and caring for your pet.

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