Why Do Dogs Eat Grass When Sick? (4 Very Possible Reasons)

why do dogs eat grass when sick

I had a rather interesting conversation with a fellow dog owner at the park the other day. She mentioned that she no longer needs to mow her lawn as her Golden Retriever has been doing a mighty fine job of keeping it neat and trimmed.

If you are picturing an image of a dog mowing a lawn with a John Deere lawn mower, that ain’t it. Apparently, her dog eats the grass that grows on her lawn. Despite many visits to the vet, the dog is as fit as a fiddle.

You might have a dog-cow hybrid at home that loves grass but it is said that many dogs eat grass when they are sick.

But why?

Some dogs eat grass as a form of self-medication when they have an upset stomach. Eating grass can also allow the dog to induce vomiting if it has eaten something bad or toxic. Although this isn’t always the case, it can work as a last-ditch effort. Grass can also act as fiber and roughage for the dog to help with better bowel movements.

Let us take a look at the possible reasons that can turn your dog into a grass-munching machine.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Truth be told, there are still a lot of uncovered mysteries as to why our dogs eat grass.

Studies have even been conducted on this aspect of a dog and it was found that most dogs tend to eat more grass in the morning and less grass when they are full from eating their normal food.

It has also been observed that only a small percentage of dogs actually threw up after eating grass.

This would indicate that eating grass for dogs stems from normal behavior instead of an indication of illness.

Here are some of the possible reasons that can cause your dog to eat grass.

1. Your Dog Has An Upset Stomach

Some scientists believe that dogs eat grass when having digestive issues.

It is believed that the rough and prickly texture of grass can agitate the dog’s throat and stomach lining which causes them to throw up.

Your dog might start eating grass when it knows that it has eaten something that it shouldn’t have such as meat that has really gone bad. Your dog is trying to use grass to induce vomiting.

Vomiting or regurgitating something toxic or poisonous greatly cuts down the risk of your dog falling ill.

Besides vomiting, your dog might also eat grass as a form of laxative.

Your dog’s digestive system doesn’t have the means to effectively digest grass which means that it has to pass it out via its poo along with whatever it wants to be eliminated from its body.

2. Your Dog Needs More Fiber

Fiber is important in keeping our gut healthy and for regular bowel movements.

Although dogs do not necessarily need to be fed fiber on a regular basis, eating grass can help your dog on dogs when it feels ‘backlogged’

With some fiber in your dog’s intestinal tract, the grass can help to firm up your dog’s poo and help with its bowel movement.

If you find that your dog has been constipated recently and has started eating grass, you can add some fresh pumpkin or psyllium husk into your dog’s food as fiber.

Just 1-2 teaspoons daily or fresh pumpkin or psyllium should do the trick.

This can be very useful for dogs that have chronic constipation and need a high-fiber diet.

3. Your Dog Is Suffering From PICA

dog with pica chewing on wire

Pica is a medical condition that makes your dog eat inedible foreign objects. It can range from plastic, metal, cement, rocks, grass and even feral matter.

Scientists are still baffled about what can cause Pica in dogs but it is said to be strongly correlated to:

  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Genetic disorder
  • Boredom

Pica isn’t something that can be cured but is only managed with the right treatment and training.

This is a serious problem for dogs and cats as it can be life-threatening when a foreign object causes an intestinal blockage.

4. Your Dog Likes Eating Grass

Dogs are known to be carnivores which means that they need to eat animal meat to thrive.

But having evolved from wolves, our domesticated dogs have the ability to forage and eat almost anything, even plant matter.

Scientists have examined the stool sample of wolves and found that a large number of wolves eat grass.

This can be consumed indirectly when wolves devour the stomach contents of an omnivore or by eating grass themselves.

Your dog’s grass eating behavior could just be part of its DNA which makes it seek out some grass as part of its dietary requirement.

For all you know, your dog likes the taste and texture of the grass that it consumes.

Should You Let Your Dog Eat Grass When It’s Sick?

Even though it is fine for your dog to be eating grass, don’t just bring your dog to a green luscious field and let it graze if you think that your dog isn’t feeling well.

There’s inconclusive evidence to suggest that eating grass can actually help a dog who is sick.

For all we know, dogs eat grass not to induce vomiting but vomit afterward because of the grass.

Please bring your dog to the vet if it isn’t feeling well for medical treatment.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Is Frantically Eating Grass?

If you notice that your dog is frantically eating grass, it could mean that your dog could be very hungry or has a stomach issue.

Studies have shown that dogs tend to eat more grass when they are hungry so try feeding your dog some of its food to see if that helps.

If your dog has already eaten and is still frantically eating grass, it might be a good idea to take it to the vet for a check to see if there’s something wrong with its stomach.

Learn to look out for other signs which show that your dog is sick such as being lethargic, loss of appetite and whimpering.

There are many dogs that want to be left alone when sick as it’s part of their natural instinct to be less sociable.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats Grass?

Pet owners shouldn’t be overtly concerned if their dogs ate grass. It is normal behavior and most dogs do it from time to time.

If your dog has always been eating grass since day one, then it is just part of your dog’s behavior.

But if your dog has only started eating grass out of the blue, it might be worth paying close attention to your dog’s toilet and eating habits.

It could be a sign that something isn’t quite right.

When in doubt, already check with the vet. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our pets.

What Types Of Grass Is Safe For Dogs?

grow cat grass at home

Most grasses in general as safe for your dog’s consumption. The one thing that you should be more concerned about is where the grass is grown.

Grass that is growing in parks and public lawns might be grown with fertilizers that have been treated with chemicals and pesticides.

Nibbling at a few blades might not be a problem but can be toxic for your dog when eaten in large amounts.

It can cause your dog to vomit, have diarrhea and even organ failure in severe cases.

If you grow grass in your own lawn that isn’t treated with chemicals, that is definitely a much safer option for your dog.

If you have a dog that enjoys gazing at grass, make sure to teach it the command “Leave it!” when it starts nibbling on grass grown outside.

Dog owners can also buy and grow cat grass at home which is known to be safe for both dogs and cats. These grasses come from the family of cat grass such as:

  • Wheatgrass
  • Barkey grass
  • Oat grass

Most pet stores sell grass-growing kits if you aren’t much of a gardener. Just add water and the grass will be ready for your dog in a week or so.

If you have green thumbs, get a bag of seeds from your local store and set up a little grazing corner for your cow…I mean dog.

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