Most dogs aren’t usually picky about what they eat, and many items our dogs choose to consume—like the contents of the cat’s litter box or a favorite pair of shoes—can leave us feeling confused or frustrated. One common item on the menu for many dogs is grass. But, why do dogs eat grass, and is it healthy for them?

Why do dogs eat grass?

Dogs are omnivores, which means their diet consists of meat and plants. The domesticated dog’s cousins—coyotes and wolves—have been known to eat plants, including berries and grass. Although we don’t know the exact reason dogs eat grass, we’ve outlined three theories here:

  • Dogs may eat grass to induce vomiting. It is thought that eating grass can cause vomiting, so one theory suggests that if a dog has an upset stomach, he may instinctively eat grass as a way to make himself vomit.
  • Dogs may eat grass for the nutrition. If your dog’s diet lacks fiber, some believe he will eat grass to make up for the nutrient deficiency.
  • Dogs may eat grass because it’s a natural behavior. Some researchers don’t believe dogs eat grass to induce vomiting or to supplement their nutrient intake. Rather, they view grass-eating as a natural behavior that some dogs enjoy or do when they’re bored. The behavior also could have evolved from wild dogs who ate plants to help control intestinal parasites and to increase intestinal motility.

Is grass healthy for dogs to eat?

If your dog has made a habit out of chowing down on grass, don’t worry—the grass itself won’t harm your furry pal. But, to keep your grass-eating friend safe, don’t forget about the following:

  • Pesticides — Follow recommendations from manufactures, and ensure any pesticides or chemicals you use on your lawn are safe for pets.
  • Toxic plants — While grass isn’t toxic, other plants in and around your outdoor space can cause serious health problems for your dog.
  • Hard materials — If consumed, rocks, sticks, and mulch can become lodged in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and require surgery to remove.
  • Parasites — Intestinal parasites are passed through feces. Even after the feces is picked up, infective larvae remain, and if your dog eats the larvae, he may develop an intestinal infection that leads to gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

Questions about your dog’s questionable eating habits? Call our office and we’ll be happy to help!