Summer is in full swing and by now your lawn is probably green. While admiring the fruits of your labor in the yard, are you wondering if you adopted a mini cow instead of a dog? Does he or she gorge on the grass in your garden or stop and nibble while taking a walk? Are you curious as are all of us, why your dog is eating grass?
Chances are your dog does not have a nutrient deficiency that they are trying to correct. If you have a healthy dog and it is eating a complete and balanced diet, there is not much that grass can provide for them that they aren’t already receiving. Grass is poorly digested by dogs; it comes out looking like the same as it went in.
Dogs don’t really gain much nutritional value by consuming grass. So why does your dog love to chow down on Kentucky Blue?
For the most part the answer is “because it is there.” Many modern grass strains can be rich in sugars and protein and may be quite palatable for dogs. Dogs may also eat grass to add bulk and fiber to their diet, which may contribute some benefit for softening stool and regulating passage of ingesta through the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes (but rarely), dogs may consume grass in excess when they feel unwell in an attempt to irritate their stomach and induce vomiting. This is actually one of the less common reasons for grass eating, as very few dogs actually vomit after eating grass. Lastly, in some (diseased) conditions dogs may exhibit a behavior called “pica” where they consume items that are not considered food. In this case, veterinary attention may be necessary.
So the next time your pooch starts mowing your lawn, don’t worry! Grass eating is a very normal dog behavior and not typically associated with any sort of adverse condition. If your dog habitually consumes enough grass to make them unwell, you can curb the behavior by preventing their access with a basket muzzle when outside. You can also redirect them with a play toy.
In the end, you can feel comfortable knowing your dog is one of millions of healthy dogs worldwide who simply enjoys a leafy green now and then.
Best wishes and tail wags,
Dr. Sarah Dodd