Why do dogs eat grass? Should you allow them to do so?

As you love your dog so much you are spending a lot of time together, going on walks, teaching, training him, and so on. You have seen him eating grass from time to time. As you clearly know he isn’t a cow, so you might think about why he is doing it. You might even think he is hungry, am I not feeding him well, or is he sick? The main question is can grass actually harm him?

Some might say…

Older people tend to say that if a dog eats grass then it’s going to rain. It is not known when and why this assumption was made, but the researchers did not find any evidence of the abilities for canine to predict the weather. Sorry, our dogs are not magicians. Probably before the rain air becomes smoother and the grass is, therefore, juicier and tastier.

As for younger dogs, especially puppies (four to six months old), they are just like kids. Exploring the world not only with their sense of smell, touch, and sight but also with their taste buds. Dogs are considered omnivores, who from time to time replace the usual meal with grass, ground, or berries found in the forest.

Why is my dog eating grass and why do animals vomit afterwards?

One of the most common assumptions is that animals eat grass to clean their stomachs, similar to cats. After eating the grass cats vomit it to free up their stomach from the hair. However, dogs usually do not lick their fur as much and as hard as cats. 

Dogs often vomit after eating the grass. There are many theories that support this – from the fact that the grass helps the dog to clean the nasal passages to the diagnosis of specific diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

In some cases, the dogs need to induce vomiting by eating grass to prevent nausea caused by indigestion. However, 25 students at the University of California, led by lecturers, observed their pets and drew conclusions, which were later published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science. It was shown that all the dogs occasionally ate grass, but none of them had any health problems. Only eight of the study participants vomited after eating the grass.

To make the observations more respectable, the students included another 47 dogs in the study, whose owners admitted that only four dogs had indigestion and six dogs vomit after eating grass. As a result, students collected data on 1,571 animals to draw scientific conclusions. It turned out that if a dog has any problems with the stomach, it tends to vomit the grass soon after eating it. A particularly high desire for green food was observed in younger dogs, which rarely vomited.

Could it be lack of vitamins?

The explanation that dogs eat grass because they lack vitamins or minerals in their bodies is not quite correct, because the grass is eaten with equal desire by both – dogs who have a balanced diet and for those who have an unbalanced diet.

There is also no scientific evidence that a dog eats grass to absorb valuable amino acids. Although the dog is omnivorous and, unlike the cat, could also switch completely to a vegetarian diet, the animal’s stomach acid lacks enzymes (just like humans) that break down the cellulose in the grass fibers. That is why the ruminants, such as cows, have a different kind of stomach and the process of processing green fodder is completely different.

Could that be inherited from ancestors?

Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, hunt herbivores. After the analysis of wolf feces, there is confirmed evidence of grass in the wolf’s diet. Wolves also tend to eat grass to help cleanse the intestines from parasites. Although the dog does not have such parasites, they eat grass based on their old instincts. It is possible that the grass helps to change the smell of the feces so that the animals they want to hunt down does not sense the predators in the area.

There is also an assumption that tasting the grass allows the dog to determine whether an uninvited guest – a cat or another dog – has visited his territory. 

There is also a theory that substances derived from plants are added to commercial dog food, so the grass is associated with the dog’s lunch bowl.

Image by Avi Chomotovski from Pixabay

Do dogs actually like the taste of grass?

The dog likes to chew on the new, juicy, fresh grass, and dogs tend to eat even when they are not hungry. If you see your pet picking grass stalks, let him have his fun. The only case when you shouldn’t allow it if the grass is dirty or grows on the side of the highway as it is spread with herbicides.

  • Is it okay for a dog to eat grass?

Yes, there might be some exceptions when you should watch your dog’s health, but overall if your dog is active and healthy you shouldn’t worry about your dog eating it. It’s even considered a good source of fiber.

  • Why do dogs eat grass when sick?

As I mentioned earlier it’s more of an instinct for dogs to eat grass, as they feel a little bit unwell they tend to eat the grass to induce vomiting so they could throw up and clear their stomach.

  • What helps to relief a dog’s stomach?

Keep your dog from eating everything they see. Make a suitable diet for them. If he’s already having an upset stomach give him probiotic like yogurt on a daily basis that might help to minimize digestive episodes. And of course, discuss this with your veterinarian so you can create a suitable treatment together.

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