Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Your pup is literally vegging out — when it’s NBD and when to worry.

by Daniela Lopez
Updated October 11, 2021
Kurzhaar's dog eats grass, oats, happy puppy playing in the meadow
Daria Photostock / Shutterstock

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What’s the deal with dogs acting like miniature lawn mowers? Munching on grass is pretty common for pups — in fact, more than 67% of people say that their dog eats grass on a weekly basis. The good news is that it’s common, it’s completely natural, and it’s generally considered safe by vets. But have you ever wondered why the heck your dog does it?

Is Eating Grass a Sign of Sickness?

While many consider illness to be the most likely reason dogs eat grass, studies don’t necessarily support this theory. In one study, only 8% of the respondents reported seeing signs of illness before their dog ate grass, and of that group, only 22% reported that their dog vomited after doing so.

In another study, researchers who compared the grass-eating behaviors of dogs with mild gastrointestinal disturbances to those without concluded that a healthy dog was more likely to eat grass than one with an upset stomach. Still, dogs do sometimes display anxious behaviors prior to eating grass, seeming to seek out longer grasses and eating them quickly, which stimulates the vomiting reflex.

Or, Is Eating Grass Normal Dog Behavior?

It’s possible that dogs eat grass to pass the time or to aid in digestion, or because — here’s a shocker — the grass tastes good. It’s likely that eating grass is a natural behavior for dogs, one passed down from their wild ancestors, wolves. Grass may even provide dogs with a source of fiber. Speaking of fiber, it may be time to consider adding vegetables or high-quality sources of fiber to your dog’s diet.

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How to Keep Your Grass Dog-Friendly

Create a dog-safe space.

Don’t use pesticides that contain toxic chemicals, or consider making a special dog-safe space in your yard.

Clean up poop.

Reduce the risk of parasite transmission by making sure that your dog only eats grass in your own backyard. Dispose of dog poop regularly, and consider making a pet-waste digester.

Keep an eye out for mean seeds.

Foxtails — small, dry seeds produced by invasive, grass-type weeds — are prevalent in many lawns and pose a serious risk to dogs. If you have foxtails in your yard, be diligent about removing them (dig or pull them up, or soak them with vinegar at ground level), and watch your dog closely when in the yard.

One caveat when it comes to grass consumption: Long, rigid grasses with sharp edges have been known to cause throat abrasions. The esophagus is sensitive and in some cases, dogs who eat this type of grass can experience a serious medical issue. If your dog is coughing or showing signs of irritation after eating grass, it’s best to contact your veterinarian immediately.

And, as always, if you have any concerns whatsoever, especially if your dog’s grass-eating seems excessive, persists for long periods of time, or if they aren’t eating normally, it’s best to have them assessed by your veterinarian.

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daniela lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.