One morning, your dog doesn’t eat breakfast. You shrug and let them outside to take care of business, only to see them ripping up mouthfuls of grass. A few minutes later, they get sick, then carry on with their day as if nothing unusual happened. Sound familiar?
You wonder if this is something you should be concerned about. After all, why would a dog choose grass over their regular food? Are you not feeding them right? Do they actually like grass for some reason? Above all, is there anything you can—or should—do to prevent this?
Dogs Will Be Dogs
Though vets and dog owners aren’t exactly sure why dogs eat grass and vomit, they do know one thing: it happens often. Regardless of breed, growth stage, or health profile, it seems like pooches across the board sometimes just feel the need for some greenery before they puke.
The short answer is, it’s nothing to be worried about. Our furry friends tend to get sick for a myriad of reasons, and unless there are specific warning signs, it’s ok to let it go.
Read on for more insight into the grass-eating phenomenon!
Possible Reasons Dogs Eat Grass
There’s a question of cause and effect here: do dogs feel sick and it compels them to eat grass, or do they get sick because they eat grass?
The verdict is still out on why this happens, but many vets and animal psychologists think it might have more to do with your pup’s brain than their stomach.
Regardless of the root cause, know that grass is non-toxic (as long as it’s untreated with chemicals) and virtually harmless, so there’s no need to be overly worried. Below are some common theories.
If you missed feeding time by a few minutes, your dog might think they’re being starved and wander around the yard looking for things to munch on. What a drama queen!
It’s astounding how routine-oriented dogs can be and how instinctively they seem to know when you should be serving them that kibble.
Try supplementing your dog’s feeding times with treats in between so they don’t feel their stomach is totally empty. Or, if you notice the grass-eating situation happening regularly, move mealtime up by an hour.
Though they aren’t even sure why they do it, your pup may sense they don’t have enough of a particular nutrient in their diet.
It could be that your dog is attracted to some aspects of grass that help them feel more balanced after they eat it. And though this is positive, the stomach may still revolt against unfamiliar content—hence the vomiting.
Grass is perfectly edible and high in fiber. Your dog might feel a subconscious urge to get more roughage in their diet to help with digestion and form healthy stools.
For most pet owners, this is the ideal situation—your dog’s body tells them what to do, and they try it with no side effects other than some vomit.
Animals do some weird things when they don’t feel safe. Some experts seem to think that dogs gobble up grass out of misplaced feelings of instability, though they still don’t understand the correlation.
If you sense your pooch has anxiety, exercise can relieve some pent-up energy, or you can also try natural calming remedies.
Just like when humans raid the fridge mid-afternoon, dogs enjoy a snack when they don’t necessarily need it. They may casually sniff around and nibble on things outside without any intention of having them for lunch—then, their stomach insists on expelling the foreign object.
There’s a big difference between grass and the consistency of their regular food, so they may get curious and decide to give it a try.
Who knows? Your dog may simply find the flavor or texture of grass appealing. This is especially pertinent at certain times of the year, like early summer, when all greenery is luscious and at its fullest growth.
Considering the other disgusting things they eat off the floor and ground, it’s not impossible that they enjoy the all-natural taste of grass just as we enjoy a good salad.
Our canine companions live for us. What better way to refocus their humans’ distracted attention than by doing something they know we don’t want?
Like kids, some dogs think negative attention is better than none and may engage in behaviors we yell at them for just so we’ll look their way—even if we raise our voices and punish them afterward.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Grass
If, for any reason, you’d rather your dog not consume grass, that’s fine. Supervise them at all times when outside and correct the behavior as it happens, perhaps with the help of a distracting treat that’s more appealing than grass.
If you’re not overly concerned with your yard’s health, try some pet sprays to give the grass a bitter taste and make it unpalatable to dogs.
When to Call the Vet
Though eating grass and vomiting is normal, there are a few signs to watch out for. Do immediately contact your vet if your dog:
- They won’t stop vomiting or have vomited multiple times within a few hours
- Shows lethargy, fever, heavy panting that doesn’t abate, or other signs of distress
- Has persistent diarrhea along with vomiting
- Doesn’t eat within a period of 72 hours
- Doesn’t drink water for 24 hours
- Presents blood or dangerous content in vomit (such as sharp objects that may harm the esophagus when coming back up)
- Has ingested something foreign that you know of
- Foams excessively at the mouth
- Seizes before or after vomiting
If your pup eats grass frequently, keep this in mind as you consider treating your lawn with pesticides or other chemicals that could be harmful to them.
There’s also the possibility that they could pick up parasites or other icky outdoor germs, so make sure your vet knows about your dog’s grass fixation and takes steps to test them accordingly!