Why do dogs eat grass?
Our canine and feline companions have both been known to feast on grass and/or plants from time to time. You may be a little confused, or perhaps worried. Why does it cause vomiting? Are they hungry? Are they bored? Are they sick? Can grass make them unwell? You are not alone with your concerns.
“Pica” is the medical term for this behaviour. It is characterised by eating non-food items. There are a number of reasons why our pets eat grass. Occasionally, pica may indicate that your pet has some type of nutritional deficiency such as fibre. This is why it is vital to be nourishing your pet with a complete and balanced diet. If you are concerned, seek Veterinary advice on what may be missing from your pet’s nutritional intake.
This form of pica does not usually cause too many health problems. In fact, most Veterinarians consider it a normal animal behaviour. Often puppies and younger dogs are exploring the world and tend to use their senses (including taste) to do so. Although there is no proven findings to suggest a specific cause for pets eating grass, some people propose that it may be due to their pet not feeling well, and thus turn to grass/plants to aid in digestion, or to make themselves vomit to then feel better. Of course, there is also the possibility that your pet simply likes the texture and taste of grass.
Our pets focus on their owner’s activities, and crave human interaction. Eating grass can indicate anxiousness where owner contact time decreases. If you suspect that boredom is the reason for your pet eating grass/plants, it is important to ensure that they are getting enough exercise, and are engaged daily with mentally stimulating activities such as toys and games to keep their mind occupied.
Although Veterinarians agree that the grazing of grass isn’t harmful to our pets, one thing to take into consideration is to never allow your pets to eat grass clippings. Additionally, herbicides and pesticides used on lawns and plants can be toxic. Furthermore, there are a variety of common house and garden plants that are toxic to our pets. To check the toxicity of the plants in your home and yard, go to the Animal Poisons website which details toxic and non-toxic plants for our pets.
In short, there are many reasons for pets eating grass and plants. Whether it be to add fibre or roughage to their diet, to fill a nutritional void, to induce vomiting if they feel unwell as a distraction from boredom, or they simply enjoy the taste and texture; it is still important to remember that eating grass could signify an underlying health problem if it becomes a habit. If they are continuously eating grass and vomiting, you should seek Veterinary attention.
Cert II AS, Cert IV VN
RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse).