If you’ve ever seen your pooch grazing on your lawn and wondered why dogs eat grass, you’re not alone. Pet owners and researchers have thought about this question for a long time.

Why do dogs eat grass? Here’s a look at some of the possible answers, and whether or not this behavior could be a sign of some sort of medical issue.

Reasons Your Pet May Be Eating Grass

Most of the time, the answer to the question, “Why do dogs eat grass?” doesn’t have a thing to do with any sort of illness. Here are four of the most common reasons your dog might be eating grass:

1. Boredom

Yes, one of the reasons your dog is eating grass is simply because they’re bored. Dogs often need a lot of stimulation and interaction, either with their owners, other pets, or both. This includes both mental and physical exercise. When dogs aren’t stimulated, they find things to do on their own. Often times, this leads to eating grass.

Your dog might be munching down on grass, but at least they’re not resorting to more destructive behaviors associated with boredom, like chewing up your shoes or furniture! If you think your dog is bored, take them for regular walks, and set aside some time for play each day. Daycare could be an option, especially if you’re not home often.1

2. Instinct

Dogs Eat Grass | Dr MartyWhy do dogs eat grass? Another theory supports the idea that it’s an instinctive behavior. The ancestors of modern-day canines didn’t have it so easy. They didn’t have owners who would set down a bowl of food two times a day. They had to work for it.

When wild dogs hunted something and ate it, they ate the whole thing. This means all of the prey’s internal organs – including whatever was in its stomach. In many instances, this content included grass, which, some believe, helped fulfill the dog’s need for fiber. It could very well be that some dogs include grass in their diet to fulfill their instinct to scavenge, just like their ancestors did.2

3. Parasites

Some people believe that the answer to the question, “Why do dogs eat grass?” has something to do with your dog’s ancestors. Ancient dogs, the theory goes, ate grass in order to help rid their bodies of parasites. As the grass the dogs ate moved through their gastrointestinal tracts, the fibers wrapped around parasites, such as worms. When the dogs passed the fiber, the parasites went with it. Most of today’s domesticated dogs are, thankfully, free of parasites. But one possible answer to why dogs eat grass is that their ancestors did it to eliminate these unwanted – and sometimes dangerous – bodily invaders.3

4. Problems With Digestion

It is often assumed that the main reason why dogs eat grass is that they have an upset stomach. If your dog ever runs to the back door and immediately starts chewing up the backyard, they may very well have tummy trouble. Are dogs self-medicating? Is that the answer to the question, “Why do dogs eat grass?” If your dog dashes outside, extends their neck, immediately eats a lot of grass, and vomits, they might be trying to ease stomach discomfort. This, however, is not all that common.4

Dogs don’t usually eat grass because they are sick. On the other hand, dogs that are sick won’t necessarily eat grass. It’s important that you’re alert to the signs of a digestive problem in your dog, so you can get the problem addressed by a veterinarian. Symptoms can vary among dogs. In general, however, you should get medical help for your dog if they exhibit any of the following:

  • Dogs Eat Grass | Dr MartyAppetite loss
  • Blood in the stool
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlargement of the stomach area
  • Pain
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Vomiting5

If you’re concerned about digestive issues, you may want to consider supplementing your dog’s diet with a canine probiotic. You may also want to think about feeding your pet a prebiotic-enriched dog food.

Do You Need to Worry?

Why do dogs eat grass – should I be worried?

You’re probably not only wondering why your dog is eating grass, but also whether you should be concerned that they might be sick. As you’ve seen, the majority of reasons why dogs eat grass are relatively harmless. You might think it’s an annoying behavior, but it usually not a sign that anything’s wrong.

There are some ways to tell, however, that you might need to take your pet to the veterinarian. For example, set an appointment if your dog has all of a sudden started to substantially increase his or her intake of grass. The reason is that could be an indication of some sort of issue.

While you should always pay close attention when your dogs are outside, this is particularly true if you have a puppy. When puppies decide to add grass to their diet, they might accidentally add other things, including leaves, or even sticks. If a stick becomes lodged in your dog’s abdomen, major problems could result.6

Should I Keep My Dog From Eating Grass?

Unless you just don’t like the fact that your pooch is chewing up a portion of your lawn, you probably don’t need to do anything to stop the behavior. But if you’ve recently treated the grass with a pesticide or herbicide, you definitely need to keep your dog out of the backyard.

You also need to pay close attention to your dog if you have other plants. There are a lot of plants found in many gardens that are very toxic to pets. Talk to your vet to see if you may have one of them in yours.

Wrapping it Up

Dogs Eat Grass | Dr MartyThis behavior may be annoying, and it may have you asking yourself, “Why do dogs eat grass?”

But in most cases it’s harmless for your dog.

However, if you think there could be something wrong with your beloved pet, get them checked out by your veterinarian.


Learn More:
Why Do Dogs Get Hiccups? (& how to help them)
Dog Licking Carpet Behavior: 3 Reasons Why & How to Stop It
IBS in Dogs: 5 Signs Your Pup Has Irritable Bowel Syndrome