Concerned dog owners often contact our La Pine veterinary clinic asking if it's safe for their dog to eat grass. Today, our vet explains a little about why your dog may be eating grass and what you can do.
Why does my dog eat grass?
In order to increase the amount of roughage that they consume in their diet, dogs will typically consume grass. In point of fact, grass can provide dogs with a source of fiber that is good for them, natural, and easy to obtain.
If your dog is lacking roughage or fiber in their diet, its ability to digest food effectively and pass stool may be hindered. By eating grass your dog may actually try to help their body function more effectively.
Having said that, the fact that your dog is eating grass may not simply be an issue of getting enough fiber in their diet; rather, it may be an indication that your dog isn't feeling very well.
If your dog shows signs of stomach upset in addition to eating grass, it's time to call the vet. Your vet will be able to diagnose any medical issues or provide appropriate treatment for your dog.
Another common reason why dogs eat grass is boredom or anxiety. Some dogs are perfectly content to occupy themselves while outside, but others are easily bored and may amuse themselves by nibbling on grass.
In much the same way as people who bite their nails, dogs who are feeling anxious will often eat grass as a sort of mindless comfort. You may notice that your dog eats more grass when they're feeling lonely, bored, or anxious.
What You Can Do
If you think that your dog is eating grass for psychological reasons there are a number of possible solutions that you can try.
For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, try leaving an old t-shirt (unwashed) or blanket with your familiar scent on it, with your dog while you're away from home. Your pet may find comfort in having your scent close by.
Provide your dog with some mental stimulation to keep them from becoming bored. If you want to help provide additional mental stimulation for your dog, consider giving him a toy that he has to figure out.
Walks that are longer or more frequent, in addition to some vigorous play sessions, are likely to be beneficial for high-energy dogs.
Dogs that enjoy socializing with other dogs may need extra socializing time. Perhaps taking your dog to a doggie daycare or on visits to the local dog park will help to stop your dog from eating grass.
Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?
It is generally accepted that it is safe for dogs to consume grass, provided that they are receiving consistent parasite prevention, that they do not consume an excessive amount of grass, and that they do not show signs of stomach upset.
If your dog enjoys nibbling on grass, you should check to make sure that the grass your dog likes to eat has not been treated with any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.