Opinions on why dogs eat grass are divided. It's suggested that it could be due to illness, nutritional deficiency, wolf ancestry or your pet may simply like the taste!
If you’ve got a ‘grass eater’ you’ll be reassured to know you’re not alone. A study published inside the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal revealed that out of 47 dog owners surveyed, 79% of them had dogs that ate grass or plant matter.
In fact, in a wider survey involving 1,571 respondents, the journal revealed that grass was the most common plant matter munched on, and younger dogs were likely to indulge more frequently.
Why do dogs eat grass and vomit?
Your dog could be eating grass because it feels nauseous and is trying to alleviate the feeling by being sick. When we vomit we often feel better afterwards, and it's the same for dogs.
It’s been suggested that grass eating and vomiting helps to alleviate trapped wind or remove internal parasites and blockages. If you think your dog has internal parasites you should go to the vet straight away.
Vancouver based vet Dr. Michael Goldberg says he often finds signs of gastric reflux or inflammatory bowel disease when he performs an endoscopy on grass-eating dogs.
However, dogs may not always eat grass because they feel ill. And it doesn’t always make them sick.
Research published in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal revealed that out of the 1,571 dog owners surveyed, less than 10% of dogs appeared ill before they ate grass or plant matter, and just over a fifth of grass and plant eaters were sick afterwards.
Diet and grass eating by dogs
Its been suggested that dogs could eat grass because they’re lacking fibre in their diet. A study reported in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine revealed that a Poodle ate grass (and vomited) every day for seven years. This only stopped after he was put onto a high fibre diet.
However, this research is contradicted by other experts who report that nutritional deficiency and grass eating by dogs is unrelated.
And research published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science also revealed that a deficient diet was not connected in any way to grass eating.
Evolution and grass eating by dogs
Some theories state that grass eating dates back to wolfhood – when dogs' great ancestors would eat grass in order to remove any scent markers left behind.
It’s also been suggested that because their ancestors would eat whole prey, including stomach contents containing vegetation, modern dogs are replicating this taste for vegetation in their diet.
How to stop my dog from eating grass?
Try keeping your dog entertained through exercise and play. Throw a ball or a frisbee for him so that he doesn’t have a chance to stop and have a munch.
Is eating grass dangerous for my dog?
Munching on grass isn’t thought to be harmful for your pet. Just make sure it stays away from grass that may contain slugs or snails, as eating these could lead to lungworm infection.
Slugs and snails can contain the round worm larvae Angiostrongylus Vasorum, which once ingested will move around the body, finally settling in and near the lungs. Hence the name 'lungworm'. The hatched worms can make your dog feel poorly and can be fatal.
You should also keep your dog away from grass that has been treated with pesticides or fertilizers as these can also be harmful.
Nobody knows exactly why dogs love grass so much. So as long as your pet is happy and healthy, and you keep an eye on where it grazes, there should be no harm done.