Many dog parents wonder why dogs eat grass. There are basically two common reasons (and one less common one) for dog eating grass. The two common reasons are to purge stomach contents disagreeable to the dog's system, and to get nutrients from the grass. The less common reason is "pica".
If you have a dog, chances are you have seen your dog nibbling on grass once in a while. Many dog parents wonder why dogs eat grass - after all, dogs are considered by many as carnivores. Actually, dogs are by nature "scavengers" or "opportunity eaters". They will eat anything they can get at.
Dogs eating grass may look "abnormal" for some dog parents, but in reality, if your dog nibbles on grass occasionally, it is quite normal. In most cases there is nothing alarming about it.
There are basically two reasons as to why dogs eat grass. Let's take a look at each of them.
Once in a while, you may notice that your dog exhibits a frantic behavior - waiting impatiently at the door to get out of the house. Once outside, he will get to some grass, and gulp down quite a large amount of grass non-selectively. The dog doesn't care what kind of grass it is - he just seems eager to ingest a whole bunch. After eating the grass, he will start licking his lips (a sign that he is feeling nauseous and is about to vomit). Shortly afterwards, the vomiting begins.
In this scenario, the dog eats grass for one purpose which is purgative - to purge whatever it is inside his stomach that is causing him discomfort - may be it is gas or bloat, or even pain. Chances are, the dog may have eaten something that he shouldn't have.
If this scenario happens only occasionally (once or twice a year), there is nothing to worry about. Instinctively, dogs know what's best for them in terms of voiding their systems of something that could be toxic or making them unwell.
However, if your dog does this on a regular basis, you need to seriously re-evaluate his diet. There is a high chance that something in the diet is not agreeable to your dog's digestive system.
You may say, "But he has been eating the same food for years and never has had this problem before!" Unfortunately, dogs can develop food intolerance or even food allergies suddenly, especially if they have been eating the same food for a long time. Therefore, if your dog starts eating grass and vomiting on a regular basis, work with a holistic veterinarian to re-evaluate his diet. This means you will probably need to:
Sometimes, dogs exhibit a totally different "grass eating" behavior. Maybe your dog has done this before - he is walking leisurely and seeking out specific types of grass to nibble on. How is his behavior different from the scenario as described above? First, the dog does not exhibit the frantic urgency to eat a large amount of grass. Secondly, he eats selectively, not indiscriminately.
So in this scenario, why do dogs eat grass? Simple - they do so because they want to!
"Wait a minute!" You may say, "Dogs are carnivores. They are not cows!" Actually, according to biologists, all dogs (including wild dogs, wolves, coyotes, etc.) consume grass and it is a normal behavior!
If your dog nibbles on grass once in a while, there is no need to prevent him from doing so UNLESS you know the grass has been treated with chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, etc.)
It is also important to know that some of the grass your dog is seeking out probably contains nutrients that your dog is lacking and therefore seeking. Grass contains vitamins, potassium, chlorophyll, and digestive enzymes, and is a good source of fiber (roughage). Therefore, your dog may be eating grass for any of these nutrients.
Thus, it is always a good practice, if your dog eats grass occasionally, to take a closer look at his diet. Adding digestive enzymes and probiotics to his diet is also helpful.
In addition to the above two reasons, there is in fact another less common reason - it's pica. Pica means consuming something that is not food. Thus, a dog "suffering" from pica may eat dirt, grass, socks, and so on.
In puppies and younger dogs, the primary reason of pica is boredom. Therefore, if you have a young puppy who is kept outside in the yard all day while you are at work, and he is eating grass, it is likely that he is bored!
If you want to stop your pup from eating grass out of boredom, keep your pup busy - both physically and mentally. Go on long walks, play fetch, and spend quality time with your pup every day. Give him mentally-stimulating toys to play with and chew on.