Almost everyone who has a dog has noticed them munching on grass from time to time. It’s not harmful, and it can actually be good for them. At best, it’s totally neutral, but sometimes it can be a sign of discomfort. Watching your dog closely to notice their mood and habits will help you know whether you should check in with your vet. Most of the time, however, it’s just because your dog likes to eat grass!
Is It OK For Dogs To Eat Grass?
Eating grass is a common behavior for dogs, and they may be doing it for different reasons. As long as your yard is free of chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, it’s fine to let them graze on the grass a bit. If they seem to be eating grass and vomiting, or they’re in an unusual mood, it may be a sign of a problem that should be checked out by a veterinarian.
The most popular turf grasses and grassy weeds like crabgrass and couch grass are safe for your dog to eat, and they can also eat dandelions and nettle. They shouldn’t eat clover, and other common plants, like foxtails, milkweed, and pokeweed are particularly toxic to dogs.
What Does It Mean If Your Dog Eats Grass?
If you notice your dog eating some grass on a walk or while out in the yard, evaluating their patterns will help you know whether it may be a problem or not. If your dog’s eagerly seeking grass regularly, or it seems like they’re in an off mood when seeking some out, it might indicate there’s a need they’re trying to fulfill. If they are just having a few bites now and then, it’s likely nothing to worry about; they might just like the taste of grass.
Dogs tend to eat grass for one or more of three reasons:
- Normal snacking
- Nutritional cravings
Most vets consider grass-eating behaviors normal in dogs, and most aren’t sick when they’re eating grass. They might simply be hungry and, as any person would, they’re taking a small snack while something’s in biting range. Puppies especially like to eat grass. It might be from boredom or an excess of energy. Keeping your dog engaged and active can keep them from eating grass simply from not having anything else to do. If they’re just lying around in the yard, however, it’s fine to let them graze.
Both wild and domestic dogs eat grass and weeds sometimes. They’re omnivores, meaning they can eat both meat and plants. Dogs can survive on an all-meat diet, but they benefit from the chlorophyll and other nutrients in grass, especially the iron. In addition to vitamins and minerals, grass provides dogs with a source of roughage. They don’t digest grass very well, but they do get fiber and some small nutritional value from it.
If your dog is eating grass, it’s usually not a sign of nutrient deficiency because most dog food formulas are designed to provide a range of mean and plant sourced proteins and vitamins. Low-fiber diets based around kibble, however, might be difficult for dogs to digest, and they may be eating grass to supplement and provide a full feeling from the fiber.
Some dog owners like to supplement their pet’s diet with vegetables the dog likes to eat, including carrots, broccoli sprouts, or alfalfa. This may satisfy their cravings and prevent your dog from eating grass on walks where you don’t know whether it’s clean or not.
A dog might go to grass when they’re having an upset stomach. They might be craving the fiber, but they may also be trying to make themselves throw up. The grass itself doesn’t induce vomiting, but the long blades can trigger them to gag and throw up whatever’s causing them discomfort.
If they do this just once and seem to be acting normal otherwise, it’s probably not a problem. If it happens multiple times, you should check with your vet, as it may be a sign of kidney stones, intestinal parasites, or another illness.
Herbicide, Pesticide, And Fertilizer Applications
When you do a liquid lawn treatment with weed killer or pesticides, it’s safest to keep your dog off of it for a couple of days while it absorbs into the grass and dries. Granular applications of fertilizer are usually safe for pets to walk on, you should monitor them to be sure they aren’t eating the granules. Solid fertilizers take a couple of weeks to dissolve fully. Organic materials, like compost or worm castings, are safe for dogs, but they shouldn’t necessarily eat them either.
If your dog does eat grass that you know has been treated with herbicide or pesticides, or if they eat a poisonous weed, ask your vet what your next steps should be.