When dogs eat grass, it can strike some pet parents as bewildering. Others may hit the panic button out of fear their beloved pet will soon become ill. To help you sort out fact from fiction, we’ll walk through some of the common human beliefs behind this weird-but-normal dog behavior, and what you should do about it.
When you see your dog nibbling at the lawn, whether you’re on a walk or relaxing in the backyard, you may give a sharp order to stop. The last thing you want is a big mess on the living room rug after you get home!
But the question is, does eating grass really make dogs ill? One study result suggests yes, but not in most dogs. More than three-quarters of pet parents surveyed (79%) said their dog has eaten grass, and of those, only 22% said their dog would vomit afterward, according to the study published in 2008 in the Journal of Applied Animal Sciences.
"Contrary to the common perception that grass eating is associated with observable signs of illness and vomiting,” writes one of the co-authors of the study, “we found that grass eating is a common behavior in normal dogs unrelated to illness and that dogs do not regularly vomit afterward. Vomiting seems to be incidental to, rather than caused by, plant-eating."
If she seems otherwise fine — no signs of lethargy, ongoing runny stools and weight loss — there’s no need to worry. However, if vomiting is a common occurrence, here are a few other underlying issues you may want to rule out.
Tummy issues can be a sign that it's time to switch to a high-quality diet containing probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics bring your pet’s microbiome into balance, helping your dog better digest its food and pass its stools more comfortably. For the most effective formula, look for brands that have, at minimum, 80 million colony-forming units of probiotics listed on the packaging.
Since dogs can’t tell us why they do what they do, we humans are left to decode their behavior. Over the years, this has led to some interesting theories on why dogs eat grass.
The one you probably hear the most is dogs eat grass to soothe their tummy aches. You may have heard it from the vet. When dogs feel queasy, the thinking goes, they have an instinct to gulp down large mouthfuls of grass. Then grass blades tickle the throat and stomach lining, which induces vomiting.
The 2008 study pokes holes in this theory, as only 9% of pet parents say their dog “appeared ill” before eating the plants. And skeptics of this theory point out this raises a chicken-egg question: Does the dog eat grass because he’s feeling unwell, or is he unwell because he ate grass? Without 100% certainty on how the dog feels beforehand, it’s hard to say.
As long as eating grass doesn’t cause stomach upset in your dog, chalk it up as something that dogs do.
“Who can say for sure why dogs choose to eat what they do?” writes Andrea Rediger for Purdue University. “What makes a rotting carcass and the new sofa such delectable treats?”
Even if grass does not bother your dog’s GI system, there are other reasons to put a stop to this habit. Eating grass can lead to your dog ingesting other things that can make him sick.
A healthy body starts with a healthy gut. In addition to using high-quality ingredients — no fillers and no byproducts — each bag and can of NutriSource contains Good 4 Life, an exclusive blend of supplements that offer your dog all the minerals and probiotic nutrients they need to build a healthy gut. Our food has more probiotics, with a minimum of 100 million cfu in every pound, for better digestion. Essential organic trace minerals, like copper, manganese, cobalt and iron, support your dog's digestion, nourishes their skin and coat and enhances the immune function. Learn more how Good 4 Life supplements found only in NutriSource can make your pet’s diet complete.