This may very well be the most commonly asked question of veterinarians, without an overwhelmingly scientific answer!
One survey showed that 79% of pet owners reported that their dog had eaten grass or other plants, with about 68% of those dogs eating grass daily or weekly. Only 9% had appeared ill prior to eating grass and 22% were reported to have vomited after ingestion1.
There are several theories as to why your dog may do this:
Boredom and anxiety: Not unlike humans, dogs have behaviors that result from boredom and unmanaged anxiety. Obsessive grass eating may be one of them. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation each day.
Dietary deficiency: While this theory is least likely to be true due to the availability of good quality pet foods, it may be a good time to evaluate your pet’s diet. Consult with your veterinarian about which type of food is best for your pet, as well as the appropriate amount and frequency with which to feed.
Response to an upset gastrointestinal system: It seems that for some pets, the only time they eat grass is with a tummy ache which may or may not result in vomiting. Sadly again, there is no medical proof as to why they are drawn to eat grass to soothe an upset belly.
Maybe they just like it! This is the most likely reason your furry friend eats grass. Most veterinarians believe that eating grass is considered normal behavior for dogs. Dogs are nutritionally considered omnivores, so maybe they just likes a little salad with their steak!
The most important piece of information is to know what’s normal for your dog. If they always eat grass…it’s probably normal behavior. If they usually don’t and start…maybe it’s time to see your veterinarian.
1. Sueda KLC, Hart BL, Cliff KD. Characterization of plant eating in dogs. Appl Anim Behavior Sci. May 2008; 111 (1-2): 120-132.