Once or twice, you may have caught your dog acting like a cow and grazing around the backyard. But you know you fed them, so you may have also said to yourself, “They’re not hungry—so why does my dog eat grass?”
Is it a problem? How can you get them to stop mowing the lawn every time they go outside?
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
A few possible reasons. Let’s break it down:
They Like The Taste
The most simple reason your dog might be eating grass? Because they like the way it tastes!
Dogs are opportunists. If they have access to something they think might taste good, they’re going to eat it. And if it tastes good, they’re going to continue to eat it! Grass might not sound like your idea of a five-star dish, but dogs have a completely different sense of taste. And to them, the grass in your neighbor’s front yard might taste like the ultimate delicacy.
Anxiety Or Boredom
Dogs do strange things when they’re bored or anxious, like destroy your throw pillows or pee in your bed. Eating grass might be like you chewing your fingernails when you’re uneasy—it’s just an anxious habit.
Dogs Evolved To Crave Grass
Another potential reason your dog can’t stop eating the green stuff has to do with evolution. Many animal experts believe that undomesticated dogs were omnivores, meaning they ate both meat and plant matter1. As those dogs evolved into domesticated pets, they kept their desire for plants, which is why your dog feels compelled to munch on grass whenever they have the opportunity.
Stomach Upset Or Nutritional Deficiency
One major theory as to why dogs eat grass has to do with their stomach. Some theorize that dogs eat grass when they’re struggling with stomach discomfort or indigestion. The idea is that eating grass will cause the dog to vomit, therefore relieving stomach discomfort. Another theory suggests dogs eat grass as a source of fiber to aid digestion.
Despite this, there’s not a lot of research to back up the claim. Most experts agree that dogs don’t eat grass to self-medicate, and that vomiting is just the result, not the intent1.
Is Eating Grass Safe For Dogs?
Regardless of the cause, we want to be certain of the effect. Is it even safe for dogs to eat grass, whether they like it or not?
The answer is yes, but make sure to keep an eye on them. While eating grass is a normal (and mostly harmless) dog behavior, you want to make sure your dog isn’t eating any grass that’s treated with potentially harmful chemicals.
You also want to be mindful of how often your dog’s grass-eating is making them sick. If they’re regularly eating grass and vomiting, it could be the sign of gastrointestinal issues—and you’ll definitely want to get them checked out by your vet.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Grass?
Eating grass is, for the most part, harmless. But that doesn’t mean you want your dog to do it all the time! If you want your dog to curb this odd habit, here are a few tricks:
- Provide training. Just like you’d train your dog to sit or stay, you can train your dog to stop eating grass. Next time you go for a walk, keep a bag of training treats in your pocket. If your dog tries to eat grass, redirect them and reward them with a treat when they stop munching on the lawn. They’ll begin to associate not eating grass with an even more delicious reward.
- Play with them. Your dog might just be eating grass because he’s bored. If that’s the case, go for a walk, play a game of fetch, or pop some treats in a puzzle toy. Nose work exercise are a great indoor activity—just hide your dog’s favorite treats around the house and encourage them to sniff ’em out!
Related Article: Positive Reinforcement Training For Dogs: What It Is & How It Works
1Hart, B. L. (2008, December). Why do dogs and cats eat grass? Research Gate. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Benjamin-Hart-2/publication/288656215_Why_do_dogs_and_cats_eat_grass/links/57f8106608ae280dd0bcccdf/Why-do-dogs-and-cats-eat-grass.pdf