MAY 13, 2019 | WRITTEN BY MOLLY
Whenever I walk one of my dogs or let them outside to for a potty break, I notice that they occasionally graze on the grass.
Most of the time, I don't think much of this behavior.
But, I do begin to grow concerned when I see my dog eating grass like he’s chowing down a bowl of his favorite food.
Does he not like his food? Is he sick? Will grass harm him?
If you have been pondering the same questions, do not worry.
So why do dogs eat grass?
Some dogs eat grass because of a mental behavior known medically as pica. This is the term that refers to the constant consumption of materials with no nutritional value.
It is rare for humans to display signs of pica, but pica is more common in wild and domestic animals, like dogs.
Exceptions exist for all generalizations, but it is normal behavior for dogs to graze on grass.
Dog owners should take a minute to understand why dogs eat grass and whether there is a time to worry or not.
Determining why dogs like to eat grass is difficult since they can’t tell us right out.
Veterinary studies have put forth some suggestions, but nothing is conclusive yet.
Many people believe dogs will eat grass if they are feeling ill or if they have intestinal worms.
Some also believe this behavior is an attempt to improve digestion.
The belief that dogs eat grass if they are ill presumes that they do this to induce vomiting to purge whatever is ailing them.
However, animal experts do not find a correlation between dogs eating grass and vomiting.
Nor do results show a correlation between grass-eating and worms or indigestion.
Most of the time, dogs do not vomit after eating grass.
If they do, it is not uncommon for them to go right back to it. This is true for eating grass or any other activity.
Dogs do not vomit like humans do.
When we get nauseous, it usually a sign of illness, but dogs can vomit from something as simple as eating too fast or getting too excited after eating.
Recall your dog’s behavior before eating grass and pay attention afterward. Was, or, is he displaying any signs of illness?
Signs of illness to look for in your dog do not include eating grass, but instead includes the following:
If your dog is eating grass, but not exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned on this list, then he is probably feeling fine!
If your dog does show signs of anything on this list, then you should take him to the vet, regardless of whether or not he is eating grass.
It is good news that eating grass is not a sign of sickness, or my dog must be very sick!
Since pica is not a sign of illness, let’s take a look at why veterinary experts think dogs eat grass:
Dogs are quite capable of digesting both plant and animal matter.
While dogs usually prefer eating meat or dog food, they sometimes enjoy plant foods as well.
In principle, eating grass is not harmful to your dog.
But, if your lawn is treated with fertilizers and chemicals, eating it can be harmful.
If you know your lawn is absent of these toxins, then your dog will be fine!
If your lawn is treated with chemicals, or if you are not sure, then you should keep your dog from eating grass.
The same goes for grass in unknown areas while walking your dog or traveling.
As mentioned before, you can discourage this behavior by playing with them more and giving them something else to chew on.
Your dog may even enjoy another similarly textured plant like celery!
Eating grass is a normal behavior for dogs.
This behavior is not shown to be a sign of illness, worms, indigestion, or whatever bad thought we can imagine.
You should not worry about your dog eating grass unless the grass is fertilized or chemically treated.
There is no evidence that eating grass is usually anything more than a behavioral concern.
So if fertilizer and toxic chemicals are not a problem, then let your dog be a dog and enjoy some harmless grazing!
But if you don't know for sure if there are toxins on grass you should, try to discourage your dog from consuming it.
If you believe your dog likes the taste of grass, try giving him fresh vegetables like carrots or celery as an alternative.
Or grow a patch of chemical free grass in a container and let him graze on that every once in a while.