Why do dogs eat grass?

Amanda K. Vogt

Spring has sprung and as everything blooms and the grass (and weeds) grow, your backyard can seem to present a veritable flora feast for your dog. So is it bad if your dog eats grass? What does grass-eating mean, if anything?

Well, my dog Lucy walks around the backyard and selectively feasts on certain grasses. She seems to be enjoying herself, as if she is surveying the options at a doggy salad bar and picking out her favorites to eat. But is this grazing habit bad for her? Does it mean her diet is inadequate?

Well, here’s the deal on eating grass.

According to several veterinarians I consulted, dogs eat grass for two reasons: 1) As a purgative to make them vomit and 2) Because they like it!

Since dogs evolved from wild dogs, coyotes and wolves, they seek out certain tall broad grasses, for example, because they know that grass is a good source of digestive enzymes. In other words, it helps them digest their food.

But if your dog stands at the back door and whines incessantly to go outside, then once outside immediately begins to scarf down grass, it is doing so because it is instinctively trying to induce vomiting. That’s okay once in awhile. Perhaps your puppy ate something that disagreed with it’s tummy and needs to get rid of it. (The constant lip-licking and heaving noises will alert you to the coming purge!)

But if your dog is consistently eating lots of grass, it is telling you that there is something missing from it’s diet, vets say. The best diet for dogs as well as cats is one high in protein and water and low in starch. If you are feeding your dog dry food only, you might want to try adding a quality wet food high in protein and H20. Don’t forget, when you switch up your dog’s diet, do it slowly. If you do it all at once, it can cause stomach upset.

A quick shortcut I often use to supplement my dog’s diet is when I am making my dinner I save a serving of veggies for her. Then I open a can of salmon or beans and add some to her bowl as well.

Other great options to aid digestion and good digestive health are probiotics and digestive enzymes. Plain yogurt and kefir are great probiotic options. Dark green leaves and vegetables are a good source of digestive enzymes.

So relax if your dog is selectively grazing tall broad grass (like my Lucy). And there is no need for panic if your dog is a frantic grazer. Just slowly change up it’s diet. Dogs can eat most healthy whole foods humans can (apart from chocolate, onions, chicken bones, garlic, raisins and grapes to name the most dangerous).

For the most part, we can always improve our dog’s diet. It should always be a work in progress.


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