WHY does my dog: Eat grass?

October 9, 2019

Lots of dogs eat grass from time to time, and no one has identified a single reason — we humans are left wondering!

If the grass hasn’t been sprayed with toxins, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Wild dogs, coyotes and foxes also eat grass, as does their common ancestor, the wolf. It’s normal dog behavior, in other words.

Pica (Pie-Kah) is the technical term for eating things that aren’t food, but that doesn’t apply to canines eating grass, even though they can’t digest cellulose. Some theories are:

  1. It’s possible that dogs get folic acid (a B-vitamin) from the grass cells that chewing breaks open.
  2. Perhaps grass enhances the conditions for the microbiome in a dog’s guts.
  3. Or possibly the fiber in the grass might act as a laxative, or help to purge intestinal parasites.

There is one published report about a miniature poodle that ate grass and then vomited every day for seven years! Finally, the owner put the dog on a high-fiber diet and, three days later, his dog kicked the habit. So maybe it’s the fiber, or maybe it’s the nutrients in the high-fiber diet, or maybe it’s a little of both! After all, dogs and humans both need fiber in their diets, some people like weeds in their salad, and some of those weeds are super-healthy.

Maybe we can take a page out of our dogs’ book and start harvesting edible weeds, wherever possible, and creating food forests where dogs and dog-lovers can forage together! This would add an exciting new dimension to the daily dog-walk, while increasing our chances of surviving the near-term future.

Puppies and younger dogs tend to eat grass more often than older dogs, and “grazing” could become a habit for some dogs. So if your dog is a constant grazer: make sure their regular diet includes fiber and, don’t let your dog munch on grass which may have been sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides!