Concerned dog owners often contact our Waxhaw 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?
Typically, dogs will eat grass to increase the amount of roughage in their diet. In fact, grass can be a healthy, natural, and readily available source of fibre for dogs.
If your dog is lacking roughage or fibre in their diet, their ability to digest food effectively and pass stool may be hindered. By eating grass your dog may actually trying to help their body function more effectively.
That said, eating grass may not be a simple question of fibre intake, it could 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.
Mental stimulation is the name of the game for bored dogs. Try occupying your dog with a puzzle toy to help provide extra mental stimulation.
High energy dogs will likely benefit from longer or more frequent walks, and some strenuous play sessions.
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 eating grass safe for dogs?
Eating grass is generally considered to be safe for dogs, as long as your dog is on consistent parasite prevention, isn't eating grass excessively, or showing signs of stomach upset.
If your dog enjoys eating grass, be sure that there are no fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides used on the grass where your dog likes to nibble.