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Why do dogs eat grass?

No way to know: veterinarian Lucy Richardson writes that while there is no definitive way of knowing why dogs eat grass, it does not mean, in of itself, that the animal is poorly (Photograph by Alex Potempkin/Getty Images)

I am frequently asked by pet owners about the reasons why dogs eat grass and if this is something to be concerned about. There is no definitive answer to this as quite honestly the precise cause is not known and may be multifactorial in explanation. But here is what we do know.

Many people believe dogs are carnivores. In fact, dogs are omnivores, and even wolves in the wild derive nutrition from both plant and animal sources.

Grazing, or eating grass, is a common behaviour seen across many breeds, types and ages of dog and does not mean, in of itself, that the animal is poorly.

There are many theories as to why dogs eat grass.

It may be a way of increasing fibre in their diet, if their own food is deficient. Alternatively, an over rich diet can make dogs feel nauseous and they use grass eating to relieve this sickly feeling.

Dog diets have changed greatly over the last ten years and many dogs are struggling to adapt to the increased richness of the food.

The nutritional quality and balance of dog food varies greatly between brands.

What is on the packet is not always what is in the food, and it is easy for owners to be misled by clever marketing and fad diets.

Always speak to your vet about the best diets for your dog. We have a wealth of evidence-based information that will help you to select the ideal diet for your pet’s specific needs.

Grass grazing may also be just for fun if they enjoy the taste or texture, or to relieve boredom and give them something to do.

You could try increasing their playtime or walking time if you are seeing them graze a lot.

Puppies are often seen grazing and putting all sorts of things in their mouths.

They are learning about their environment through touch, taste and texture, and this is a perfectly normal activity.

Be cautious, however, of pesticides that may be used on grass, as these can be damaging to their health.

If grazing becomes habitual, or your dog is vomiting very regularly, for instance daily or multiple times a week, it is well worth speaking to your vet about this symptom as there may be an underlying reason for the behaviour.

They may be feeling sick or have a health issue which needs to be addressed.

The take home message is that dogs are omnivores and able to graze periodically without any issue, and likely with some benefit. But if this becomes very regular and leads to vomiting get in touch with your vet and have them checked out.

You want to be able to enjoy your walks with your best doggy friend knowing they are happy and healthy.

* Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. She is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda

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Published April 25, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 24, 2024 at 6:24 pm)

Why do dogs eat grass?

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