Why do dogs eat grass? Is it safe?

Concerned pet parents often contact our Boulder and Westminster animal emergency clinics concerned about the potential health effects of their dog eating grass. To help put your mind at ease if your pup loves to nibble grass, here are a couple of possible causes and some things you can do to try and curb their habit.

Why does my dog eat grass?

Grass eating is a common behavior in dogs that leaves many pet parents baffled and concerned. If your dog loves to chomp on mouthfuls of grass here are a couple of possible reasons why:

Physical Reasons

The primary reason that dogs eat grass is that they need more roughage in their diets — just like humans. Grass is a good and readily accessible source of fiber.

Also similar to humans, a diet lacking in roughage can result in your dog's ability to effectively digest food becoming hindered, which may make it more difficult to pass stool. Eating grass may be an effort to help their bodies function more smoothly.

That said, if your dog is showing signs of an upset stomach along with eating grass, something more serious may be going on. Book an appointment with your vet so they can test for any medical issues, or diagnose them and provide treatment. 

Psychological Reasons

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 it safe for dogs to eat grass?

Unless your dog is eating grass in excessive amounts or is showing signs of stomach upset, and as long as they are given parasite prevention medication consistently, eating grass is perfectly safe, and nothing you need to worry about.

A note of caution: 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.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is experiencing a veterinary emergency in the Boulder or Northside areas contact our Boulder and Westminster vets right away for urgent care.