Both my dogs eat grass. I've asked countless vets about this behavior and what it really means. Most vets I've asked about eating grass say generally speaking it's OK if our dogs eat a little bit of grass. Today on a hike, Walter couldn't get enough of it and every once in awhile our other dog heads right out the back door to eat grass before he's even eaten breakfast.
What does it mean when my dog eats grass?
My senior dog is actually fairly selective with the grass he eats. He looks for wide blades that grow in patches of "wild grass" as we have a lot of pasture around our house. He rarely looks for 'lawn' type grass. Many experts believe that grass acts as a natural antacid. When Sherm's stomach is upset he seeks out grass so I suspect this is absolutely the case. When he doesn't feel good and he wakes me up in the middle of the night, it's not always to go outside and vomit or because he needs to poop, he just wants to eat grass for a while.
We add cooked green beans to their diet so I don't think it's something he seeks out because he's not getting what he needs as far as 'greens'. We already have roughage covered. According to various vet experts, there is no nutritional benefit to grass consumption and there are no research studies that address this issue.
Dr. Jennifer McDaniels at The Veterinarian Care Center shares that it's not uncommon for our pet dogs to nibble on grass.
"When you have an upset stomach you go straight to the medicine cabinet or the pharmacy. But what does your dog do? A dog will seek out a natural remedy for a gassy or upset stomach, and grass, it seems, may do the trick. When the dogs eat the grass, the grass blade tickles the throat and stomach lining; this sensation, in turn, may cause the dog to vomit, especially if the grass is gulped down rather than chewed."
Should I let my dog eat grass?
So if your dog eats grass and vomits, don't panic. The grass may tickle their stomach lining. Regurge is different than vomiting says Dr. Dodds but if your dog is eating large amounts of grass and this continues throughout the day, it might be time to see your veterinarian to see if your dog has pica. Pica is a medical issue referring to a dog's craving of a non-food item. Now Pica is often referred to as a medical issue (and I wouldn't categorize eating grass as a medical issue) but people often refer to this term so it's important to understand what it means.
I believe my dogs are telling me they need a natural antacid like Pepcid! Some dogs may indeed need additional roughage so you can always try adding cooked green beans or a veggie mash. Limit the types of grass your dog consumes as some people use chemicals and fertilizers that could be toxic to dogs. If you have any concerns that your dog might have eaten too many chemicals during their grass snacking, you can contact the ASPCA for advice.
An idea for grass-eating dogs
What about an herb garden for your dogs? Buy wheat berries, barley grass seeds, or cleavers, and grow these in your garden. Make your own herb garden for your dogs! Set aside a spot for your dogs to enjoy! I planted parsley and chamomile as a start to my pet-friendly herb garden last summer.
I used to believe that a dog eating grass may also be a sign that they're not getting a balanced diet. I don't think that's the case as my dogs graze throughout the day and they are healthy and happy. On occasion, dogs vomit after they eat grass but if it's a natural remedy and tickles their throat there shouldn't be any concern. Add some green stuff to your dog's diet. This also will address any possible nutritional deficiency or nutritional need that a normal dog may need if eating kibble.
Does your dog eat grass? Please leave us comments and let us know if this post was helpful!