Why Do Dogs Eat Grass And Weeds?

When owners bring their dogs out for walks, they may notice their dogs sniffing the grass. Then, to their surprise, their dogs started munching happily at the wild grass and weeds, even attempting to yank it out of the ground. They started panicking and asking themselves, “Can dogs eat grass? What will happen to my dog? Why do dogs eat grass and weeds?

My dogs are no exception. From my first dog to my current dog, all of them had eaten grass and nibbled on leaves before. Occasionally, they would vomit out the plants that they eat, but most of the time, they were fine and went about their daily routines as usual.

In this article, I will discuss the following:

  • Will dogs fall sick after eating grass?
  • Does my dog lack fiber if it eats grass?
  • Common reasons for why dogs eat grass
  • What should you do if you see your dog eating grass?

Will Dogs Fall Sick After Eating Grass?

Under normal circumstances, dogs will not fall sick after eating grass.

You might have heard of dogs vomiting after they eat grass. It is true that sometimes, vomiting behavior might be observed after the dog has eaten grass, but that is only about 22% of the time [1]. Also, older dogs and dogs who had shown signs of illness before eating grass were more likely to vomit than younger and healthy dogs.

Therefore, if your dog is young and healthy, it is unlikely that your dog will fall sick after eating grass.

However, it would help if you understood that there are two different types of grass.

Grass and weeds growing in the wild are usually untreated by chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, so they are relatively safe for dogs to graze on. However, keep on a lookout for pests as untreated grass patches are home to many insects and animals.

Cared-for lawns use these chemicals frequently to maintain aesthetics and to keep the area free from unwanted guests. As such, if your dog eats grass with these chemicals sprayed on them, it may result in health problems. While a bit of nibble here or there will not do much harm, feeding on them frequently may result in the accumulation of toxins faster than the dog’s body can remove them.

Does My Dog Lack Fiber If It Eats Grass?

A few case studies may suggest that dogs who eat grass are lacking in fiber [2]. However, there was no large-scale research supporting this hypothesis as of today. Therefore, it is still inconclusive whether dogs lack fiber if they eat grass.

If you worry about your dog lacking fiber, you can swap to a high-fiber diet or feed your dog fruits and vegetables that contain fiber to supplement its current diet. Apples and carrots are always good options to choose from!  

Then, Why Do Dogs Eat Grass and Weeds?

There are a couple of reasons why dogs choose to eat grass. Some of them are physical-related, while others are more on the psychological side. Regardless so, knowing why your dog eats grass is important so that if it is a problem, you can solve it in time.

Your dog is hungry!

Sometimes, your dog may eat grass because it feels hungry.

In a 2007 study, dogs are more likely to eat grass before they are given the first meal of the day [3]. This result may mean that satiety (the sense of feeling full after eating) may be an important factor in why dogs eat grass.

Alternatively, it may be the time of the day that affects the consumption of grass. Morning grass has lesser sugar content because they have yet to start photosynthesizing. However, there has been no research confirming a relationship between the time and the consumption of grass by dogs.

Your dog likes the taste.

Every human has her own food preferences, and dogs are no exception. Some dogs like chicken, others like beef, and others are picky about the treats they eat.

Maybe your dog liked the taste of the grass and weeds in the area that you frequently brought it to. Or maybe the texture was different from kibbles and raw food, which caught your dog’s attention.

Either way, your dog has its eyes on the grass and is not planning to give it up anytime soon.

Your dog is bored and wants your attention.

Pet dogs can be easily bored as their everyday experiences are likely monotonous with little stimulation [4]. When they are bored, they are likely to exhibit sensation-seeking behavior, and eating grass is one of them.

Alternatively, your dog may seek your attention, especially if you do not spend enough time with it daily. Dogs have gotten more attention from their owners during the lockdown period, but that will soon be cut down when the measures are lifted [5].

If you have recently ended your work-from-home and returned to work in the office, this change can result in a decrease in the attention you give your dog. Out of boredom or in an attempt to get your attention, it can try out various means to see if anything elicits a reaction (positive or negative) from you.

It is an ancestral instinctual behavior.

Experts speculate that dogs eat grass because it is an instinctual behavior from their ancestors, the wolves [6]. Wolves eat grass as an intestinal scour [7]. The evolution of dogs may have retained this behavior, even though they may not necessarily need it.

What Should I Do If I See My Dog Eating Grass?

When your dog eats grass, take a mental note and observe if it vomits or shows any signs of discomfort afterward.

If there is no vomiting or signs of discomfort, your dog is most likely feeling fine, and you do not have to worry about it.

If your dog vomits or shows any signs of discomfort, note down the symptoms and continue monitoring your dog the next few times it eats grass. Your best bet is to bring your dog for a check-up at the local veterinarian if you see your dog showing abnormal behavior after eating grass 2-3 times consecutively.