Surprisingly, this is one of the most searched-for questions on the internet: “why do dogs eat grass?” Another surprise is that the answer is not all that one-dimensional. There are several reasons why dogs consume grass: improving digestion, treating intestinal worms, fulfilling an unmet nutritional need, the taste of grass is good to them, and dogs get bored.
Poor digestion is a common issue with dogs. According to WebMD, dogs sometimes consume grass to settle their indigestion. However, “Evidence suggests that most dogs that eat grass aren’t unwell beforehand, or at least they don’t seem so. In fact, fewer than 10% of dogs seem to be sick before eating grass, according to their owners. And grass-eating doesn’t usually lead to throwing up — less than 25% of dogs that eat grass vomit regularly after grazing” (“Why Dogs Eat Grass: Causes and Prevention”). So, the theory of dogs eating grass because of indigestion is not so relevant. It may happen only in rare cases.
Another reason dogs like to chew on grass is that they may have an intestinal worm. Consuming grass can be a natural cure for these worms. According to Psychology Today, “The plant material passes through the intestinal tract and the fibrous matter increases the intestinal contractions and wraps around the worms or nematodes which may be infecting the animal. In this way the grass helps to purge the system of these potentially harmful parasites. Although most pet dogs are free of such worms they nonetheless may still have that predisposition to eat grass which was helpful to their ancestors living in the wild” (“Why Dogs Eat Grass-a Myth Debunked”). So, dogs might not have these worms, but they are chewing on grass out of an evolutionary instinct. It is like a natural barrier against worms, regardless if the dogs have them or not.
Also, dogs can eat grass because they are missing a nutritional element in their diet. Dog food is often not enough for them to feel nutritionally satisfied. As stated by Cesar’s Way, “As natural scavengers, canines are programmed to search for nutrition anywhere they can find it. It could be fulfilling a nutritional need that his normal food isn’t, especially fiber” (“Why Dogs Eat Grass – and How to Prevent It”). Besides being instinctual to search for food and to grab what a dog can get, canines might be seeking out fiber. Sometimes dog food does not have enough fiber in it to satisfy dogs’ needs.
Dogs might also might be like us humans: they simply might enjoy the taste of grass. To them, it might be an indulgence. The Spruce Pets says, “It’s safe to assume that some dogs simply enjoy the flavor and texture of grass. The modern domestic dog has a limited diet in general, but its wild relatives continue to enjoy a diverse bounty of food. Coyotes, for example, typically eat vegetable matter found in the stomachs and intestines of prey animals” (“Is It Safe for Your Dog to Eat Grass?”). Your dog might just be a foodie, so to speak, and trying to enjoy the riches of the earth. Who knows—maybe your dog has a taste for grass.
Lastly, your dog might be bored when it eats grass. When dogs are bored, they often exhibit interesting behaviors. According to WebMD, “Pica is the technical term for the disorder characterized by eating things that aren’t food. Sometimes pica indicates that your dog has some type of nutritional deficiency, though it is often simply a sign of boredom, especially when practiced by puppies and younger dogs. Dogs eating grass is actually quite common (it has been observed in wild dogs, too, and may be completely natural) and this form of pica does not usually cause too many problems” (“Why Dogs Eat Grass: Causes and Prevention”). Thus, when your dog is chewing on grass, it might be a sign of a pica.
Overall, the answer to the popular question, “why do dogs eat grass?” is founded on several factors: indigestion, intestinal worms, nutritional needs, enjoying the taste of grass, and boredom. It is difficult to determine which of these factors is involved in each dog, but understanding these reasons can bring comfort to a pet owner and treatment for the dog, if needed.
“Why Dogs Eat Grass: Causes and Prevention.” WebMD, WebMD, pets.webmd.com/dogs/why-do-dogs-eat-grass#1.
“Why Dogs Eat Grass-a Myth Debunked.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201412/why-dogs-eat-grass-myth-debunked.
“Why Dogs Eat Grass – and How to Prevent It.” Cesar’s Way, 21 July 2016, www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/problem-behavior/why-dogs-eat-grass-and-how-to-prevent-it.
“Is It Safe for Your Dog to Eat Grass?” The Spruce Pets, TheSprucePets, www.thesprucepets.com/why-puppies-eat-grass-2804594.