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Have you ever taken your dog outside, only to find him eating grass like a cow chewing its cud? Does eating grass mean your dog is sick and trying to induce vomiting, or does he or she simply love the taste of fresh, green grass?   Most veterinarians will tell you that one of the most frequent questions asked is: why does my dog eat grass?  If so many people are asking the same question, there are a lot of dogs eating grass.   So, should you be concerned?  It depends on the situation, but grass-eating may be a normal dog behavior, dating all the way back to dogs’ days in the wild.1

Does my Dog Have Digestive Problems?

There is a common belief that dogs eat grass to soothe their upset stomachs.  This belief stems from the fact that some dogs will rapidly consume grass and then vomit afterward. 

However, according to VCA Animal Hospitals, fewer than 25 percent of dogs vomit after ingesting grass.2  Meanwhile, the American Kennel Club found that only 10 percent of the dogs who eat grass show any indication of illness beforehand.3  Therefore, it is unlikely that most dogs are turning to grass to cure their stomach ailments. 

Is Eating Grass a Physical Need?

Specialists have suggested that some dogs might eat grass to fulfill unmet nutritional needs, such as the need for more fiber in their diets.4  Fiber is essential to your pup’s digestive system.  Fiber makes it possible for your dog to digest his food, eliminate waste, and perform other bodily functions. Grass is high in fiber, so it is plausible that some dogs may require extra roughage in their diets.

Psychological Reasons for Eating Grass

Your dog’s world revolves around you.  When you leave, your dog spends every moment waiting for your return.  If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, eating grass may be a way to calm his or her anxiety, particularly if they gets nervous when they know you are preparing to leave.5  It may become a nervous habit, much like people who chew their fingernails or crack their knuckles.

Is my Dog Feeling Lonely, Bored, or Neglected?

Dogs are social creatures. They love interaction, particularly with their humans.  If your dog feels he isn’t getting enough of your attention, he may turn to inappropriate behaviors to get attention.  Some dogs chew things they are not supposed to, and others eat grass.  

Your dog may be more likely to engage in inappropriate behavior if it gets some reaction from you.  After all, negative attention is better than no attention. Your dog wants any attention from you! 

What Can I Do for my Anxious or Lonely Dog?

  • Fortunately, most attention-seeking behaviors are easy to correct with some patience, time, and love.  Here are a few things you can try: 
  • Try leaving an anxious dog with a piece of clothing (such as a T-shirt) that has your scent. This can provide him or her with some comfort until you return home.
  • If you suspect your dog is bored or longing for your attention, schedule more time in your day to spend with your pup.  During that time, focus all your attention on your dog and the activities you are enjoying together.
  • Try using fun, interactive toys that you and your dog can enjoy together.
  • When you leave the house, leave safe toys to occupy your dog. A good dog toy to distract your dog while you are away could be a hallow treat filled with all-natural peanut butter.
  • A Food-dispensing puzzle can help prevent boredom and provides mental stimulation when you are not home to interact with your pup.
  • Ignore your dog’s negative attention-seeking behavior.  Your response (even a negative response) reinforces the behavior you are trying to eliminate.
  • Always reward your dog’s positive behavior.
  • Continue to educate yourself on your pet’s needs.  The SPCA has more tips on correcting your dog's attention-seeking behavior.6

If you are concerned about your pets’ health and wellness, talk to your veterinarian directly. 

Is It Normal for My Dog to Eat Grass?

Many veterinarians and scientists have come to view grass-eating as normal dog behavior, passed down to domesticated dogs from their wild ancestors.7

Our dogs’ ancestors hunted for their food.  They did not have the luxury of eating prepackaged kibble or cans of food designed with their dietary needs in mind.8  The digestive systems and nutritional needs have evolved over hundreds of years to suit the lifestyle of domesticated dogs.  This explains why, even if you are feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet, eating grass may be related more to instinct than to dietary deficiency.9

Studies have also shown plant material to be present in up to 74 percent of wolf-scat samples. So, while dogs love their meat and bones, they are omnivores, meaning they enjoy a diet that includes both plants and meat.10

The bottom line is your dog might naturally crave grass as part of his genetic makeup.

Is Eating Grass Bad for my Dog?

The grass itself is not dangerous to dogs, plus grazing on grass is normal.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain herbicides and pesticides used on grass can be toxic to your dog.  Additionally, fertilizers, weed-killers, and other chemicals can pose a severe risk as well.

It’s best to make sure your dog only eats grass in your yard. Eating grass wherever it looks yummy puts your pup at risk of ingesting intestinal parasites (such as roundworms and hookworms) that may get into the grass through the feces of other dogs.

What you Can do to Keep your Furry Companion Safe

If your dog enjoys chewing on some grass every now and then, it should not be a significant cause for concern. Simply set some parameters to protect your dog’s safety, such as creating a dog-safe area on your property where your pup can graze.  Make sure it is free of pesticides, fertilizers, weed-killers, and any dangerous plants.  Also, make sure to keep the area free of dog feces.  In the mean time, consider checking out these tips for creating a healthy diet for your dogs.

Consider Investing in Dog Insurance  

Looking for more ways to keep your pup happy and healthy? Consider investing in a dog insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.Our dog insurance policies can provide the coverage and care your furry family member deserves.  Get your free quote today.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1. Pets WebMD: Why Do Dogs Eat Grass

2. VCA Animal Hospitals

3. American Kennel Club: Why Does My Dog Eat Grass, October 30, 2020, Jessika Zachary

4. Pets WebMD: Why Do Dogs Eat Grass

5. MetLife Pet Insurance, Top 5 Behavioral Issues in Dogs, 2016

6. San Francisco SPCA: Dog: Attention Seeking Behaviors

7. Morris Animal Foundation: From Wolves to Pugs and Great Danes- The Evolution of Man's Best Friend, March 19, 2020

8. MetLife Pet Insurance Dog Food Do's & Dont's

9. American Kennel Club: Why Does My Dog Eat Grass, October 30, 2020, Jessika Zachary

10. Ultimate Pet Nutrition: Your Dog’s Diet: Are Dogs Carnivores Or Omnivores?, February 18, 2020