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Our veterinarians at Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital occasionally see furry companions from across Halifax and Dartmouth who have spent a little too much time chomping on the lawn. This can result in potentially serious internal conditions and infections. But why do dogs eat grass, what are the pros and cons, and is it ever safe for them to do so?

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Why do dogs eat grass?

A common question that veterinarians are often asked is, 'Why do dogs eat grass?'.

Pica in dogs is a behaviour disorder that causes them to crave and eat items that are not known as food. This condition can sometimes be associated with deficiencies in a dog's diet. However, commercial dog foods are formulated to ensure that all of their nutritional needs are met when given the appropriate type and amount of food. If they receive a proper diet, this means pica is unlikely to be the reason a dog is chowing down on grass. So why do dogs partake in this behaviour?

Read on to learn more about the potential causes, as well as the pros and cons of dogs eating grass.

What are some reasons my dog eats grass?

Type the words, ‘Why my dog eats grass’ into your favourite search engine and you’ll receive results from numerous sources contributing to the debate.

While many people believe dogs eat grass to induce vomiting, there is no evidence to support this. Many dogs show no signs of illness at all before munching away on grass.

Others argue that the actual reason may be as simple as the dog just liking the taste and texture, much like how you might eat fresh vegetables.

If your dog experiences excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or other severe symptoms after eating grass, there may be a serious health concern at hand. If this happens, you should reach out to your primary vet during regular office hours or the nearest emergency veterinarian right away.

So while there is no specific reason behind dogs eating grass, there are some possibilities:

Your dog may be experiencing boredom.

Many dogs share a similar habit: when they become bored, they begin to chew on everything. You can help prevent this by keeping them both mentally and physically stimulated. Take them for walks and to play at the dog park, talk to them, and interact with them often. You may also want to keep various chew toys around the house so that if the desire to chew occurs, they can do so safely.

Your dog may be missing a key nutrient in their diet.

Dogs who are not fed the appropriate type and amount of commercial dog food, as well as those who are fed a home-prepared diet (without the supervision and recommendations of a veterinary professional), may be lacking important vitamins and nutrients. You should discuss your dog's diet and eating habits with your vet during routine exams to ensure that they are eating a well-balanced diet.

What are the benefits of eating grass?

While there are many questions you may have about grass-eating dogs, and if your dog is exhibiting normal behaviour, another common inquiry is, 'What are the benefits?'.

Here are some of the common benefits of dogs eating grass:

  • It provides the roughage needed to digest their food and comfortably pass stool.
  • They follow their basic instincts and may eat grass to fulfill their basic dietary needs.

Why is it a bad idea for your dog to eat grass?

If you have a grass-chomping pooch, then one question you may have is, 'Is it safe for dogs to eat grass?'.

Here are some of the reasons why your vet may recommend against allowing your dog to eat grass:

  • In some cases, the grass may become lodged in your dog's throat and cause a blockage.
  • The grass may have been treated with pesticides and/or fertilizers that are toxic for your dog.
  • There may be fecal matter from other animals present on the grass, which can lead to the ingestion of intestinal parasites. Some of these parasites can cause serious internal health conditions.

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Grass

If your dog is a known grass eater, you may wonder what you can do to prevent this behaviour.

Along with ensuring a proper diet and that all of their mental and physical needs are met, you may also want to try redirecting their attention to other activities.

Bring along treats, and just like you did with training, redirect your dog whenever they wander off in search of grass to chomp on.

Once they are focused on the desired activity or behaviour, reward them with a delicious morsel.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of or behaviours related to an internal medicine condition, please speak with your veterinarian about a referral to our veterinary specialists at Coastal Care Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital. We are here to help companion dogs and cats from across Halifax, Dartmouth, and the Maritimes.

Dogs Eating Grass: Why they do it and is it safe?

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Our specialists are pleased to accept new patients by referral from primary care veterinarians. Our emergency service welcomes all clients – 24/7/365. 

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