Dog Behavior: Why Dogs Eat Grass

unusual dog behavior

Why do dogs eat grass? I, along with millions of other dog owners, have pondered this strange dog bevavior for generations. Over the decades, I’ve owned, bred, and trained hundreds of canines, and many of them partook of grass from time to time. I have two adult male Great Danes now, and they eat grass about twice a month, on average. My black-and-white spotted Dane, Grendel, rather resembles a Holstein when he gulps down grass in the front yard. Hamlet, a fawn Great Dane, looks more like a Jersey steer, I guess. Unlike Grendel, however, Hammie leisurely nibbles the grass instead of scarfing it up like Grendel. Hamlet prefers grazing to gobbling.

I’ve read a lot about why dogs eat grass, and I’ve discussed it with several veterinarians. Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast single answer. Vets disagree, and some admit they have no idea why dogs eat grass. Several possible reasons have been suggested, and I’ll briefly discuss them below.

Dogs eat grass for the fiber

I found this theory especially interesting. Some vets think dogs eat grass because they need the fiber. Animals often instinctively crave foods that contain nutrients that are lacking in their diets, so it’s possible that if a dog isn’t getting enough fiber in its dog food, it will supplement its diet with fiber from eating grass.

This might sound far-fetched, but I read about a couple of studies about dogs that ate grass every day. When their regular food was switched to a high-fiber dog food, the canines completely stopped eating grass.


"Ohhhhh...my tummy hurts. Think I'll go gobble some grass!"
"Ohhhhh...my tummy hurts. Think I'll go gobble some grass!"
My dog eats grass. Actually, he GOBBLES grass!
My dog eats grass. Actually, he GOBBLES grass!

Dogs eat grass to help cure a tummy ache

Some vets speculate that dogs with an upset stomach will eat grass in order to induce vomiting. This definitely seems to be the case with my Grendel. We’ve noticed that when he’s acting as if he feels sick, he’ll run outside and gobble some grass. In just a minute or so after eating grass, he’ll throw up. Then it’s like he’s all cured and feeling fine again.

On the other hand, Hamlet doesn’t do this. He never gobbles the grass, and he never throws up after eating it, either.

Dogs eat grass because they’re curious

Dogs and puppies love to explore things with their mouths. Some dogs will try chewing on just about anything: paper, furniture legs, human hands, pillows, and my brand new crocodile loafers. Perhaps eating grass is just another example of canine curiosity. Maybe they sniff the grass to discern if other dogs have been in their territory, and the grass tickles their nose, so they chew the grass to learn more about it and to see if it’s edible.


Hamlet occasionally enjoys grazing.
Hamlet occasionally enjoys grazing.

Dogs eat grass because it tastes good

Some veterinarians think that people are over-thinking this canine behavior. This group believes that dogs eat grass because they like the way it tastes. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not totally carnivorous. Instead, they’re omnivores, and that includes wild canines. Most are a combination of hunter and scavenger. Think about your own pooch. It doesn’t eat just meat, and if it gets the chance, it won’t stick solely to its dog food, either. In fact, our dogs will eat anything, including pickles, bread, lettuce, bananas, raw broccoli, and everything else they can get their big jaws on.

It is dangerous for dogs to eat grass?

My veterinarian has more than fifty years of experience dealing with dogs, and according to him, eating grass doesn’t usually cause any problems. Some serious problems can occur, however, if the grass has been treated with insecticides, fertilizers, herbicides, or other chemicals. In that case, you shouldn’t let your dog eat grass. If you have other ideas about why dogs eat grass, I’d love to hear them!


Why dogs eat grass, from a vet:

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Comments 61 comments

Vanne Way 5 years ago

I agree with the train of thought that says they eat it to induce vomiting or for fiber. I have actually seen evidence of both in my household of 4 dogs, notof which are under 60 pounds. I also have a dog who has eaten a sheet of plywood, a wheelbarrow tire, and a trash can lid just to name a few. I wonder what the "dog shrinks" would say to that!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lol, Vanne! My 2 Akitas ate a rocking chair - an entire rocking chair! Thanks for reading!


rachellrobinson profile image

rachellrobinson 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

We just got a border collie puppy, she is about twelve weeks old, and I swear she eats grass everyday. I thought it was just a puppy thing, kind of nice to know there is a point. Thanks for sharing.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 5 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

My dog eats grass every day that he is out. I always thought it was for an upset stomach. Interesting.


paulineleo52 profile image

paulineleo52 5 years ago

It like we eat salad , salad good for their stomachs >It does not hurt them so let munch on it


Shawn Scarborough profile image

Shawn Scarborough 5 years ago from The Lone Star State

I had always wondered why my dog was eating grass. I always assumed it was because he had an upset stomach. It is good to know there are other reasons he is eating grass.


Wooded 5 years ago

I have one dog that eats grass only for an upset stomach and another that eats it every day. I appreciate this info!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

We no longer have a dog, but the one we used to have did eat grass, then would want to come in and upchuck on the carpet! (I finally trained him to ask "out" if he was going to puke!)

Upset tummy? As good a reason as any! Chlorophyll is an ingredient in some digestive aids, so why not?


jorja kick profile image

jorja kick 5 years ago from southeast georgia

Great Hub...

I think mine eat it ..because it is there..LOL

jorja


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Holle, not much grass here, but there is a bit sprouting from the hay I bring in I'm thinking anyway, but I'm the chief poop inspector and know who's is who's. I find checking it for things that shouldn't be there or signs of constipation. I think that is important for all dog owners to monitor and if they don't know, need to learn.

Great information, voted up,

Peace, dust


VENZKHVAM profile image

VENZKHVAM 5 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

It is really a good hub with lots of discussion on our favorite pet who are very close to our lives and where we don't know what they are doing and why they are doing?

this is really anew topic for me.

I think one is for stomach upset

BUT ANOTHER ONE I THINK IS BECAUSE THEY WANT A CHANGE IN TASTE RATHER THAN ALWAYS EATING NON VEG FOODS.

voted up and interesting.

Habee I am following you now. waiting to hear from you in my three hubs.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Rachell, thanks for reading!


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

I used to be a dog walker and I knew when a dog was having some tummy trouble because it would stop to eat grass.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I used to think that dogs ate grass because of an upset stomach but my 2 newfs eat grass quite a bit. They also love romaine lettuce, zucchini, carrots and broccoli. So I think after reading your hub I tend to lean towards the fiber theory. Interesting hub.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Perhaps all of the reasons dogs eat grass are true... Great article. Thanks for sharing. Flag up!


zzron profile image

zzron 5 years ago from Houston, TX.

Great info. My dog does it every once in a while. I agree with the throwing up thing. I just let him go to town. All you can eat buffet.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

OMG, Holle, your two Akitas ate an ENTIRE rocking chair? The whole thing?

Has anyone seen Grandma lately?


janiek13 profile image

janiek13 5 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

Habee, that was just the hub that I needed. I have been pondering that very question.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

In my experience, dogs eat grass for different reasons. A dog I had as a child ate it to ease tummy distress, but the dogs I have now don't vomit after eating it. It is interesting to read the various reasons ascribed to the habit.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Sandy, that might very well be why your dog is eating grass!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Right, Pauline - as long as the grass hasn't been treated with chemicals, it should be safe for dogs.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks a bunch for reading, Superhero! I don't think eating grass is breed-specific dog behavior, as I've seen it in numerous breeds.


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 5 years ago from USA

Every dog I have own has taken time to eat grass. I found it was for a variety of reasons...tummy trouble...low fiber...bored...or some interesting fish smell, I am leaning towards all of the above.

I do have one dog that loves to chew on anything that hits the floor, socks, shoes, metal lid, any wood product, and even my bag of potatoes. (The potatoes have now became a game of throwing them to play catch, then eating them.) They remind me of my kids. Great hub! :)


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Shawn, thanks for stopping by!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Wooded, I've heard similar comments from friends. We might never really know why dogs eat grass! lol


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lizzy, I didn't know that. Thanks for the info!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Jorja, I think my dog eats grass for the same reason! Hubbby's dog, however, eats grass only when he's sick. Go figure.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Dusty! Always good to see you!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Ven, you might very well be correct. I'll check out your hubs!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Rob, that seems to be the reason that some dogs eat grass. Some eat it that don't have tummy trouble, too. It's one of the mysteries of the world! lol


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Susan! You have 2 Newfies? I love that breed!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Dallas, many thanks, pal!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

ZZ, your comment gave me a chuckle! Thanks for reading!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lol, drbj. The 2 pups were on the screened-in porch with the wooden rocking chair. When I got home, there was just one small splinter left! I wrote a hub about the adventures of my 2 Akitas. They were VERY...umm... entertaining!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Janiek, great minds! lol. Glad you liked the hub.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

True, LL. There seem to be several reasons dogs eat grass. I'm sure glad it's not dangerous!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

tl, make sure your dogs don't eat any green potatoes. They can be dangerous for canines. Thanks for visiting!


Nature by Dawn profile image

Nature by Dawn 5 years ago

My dogs eat grass every day - probably because of the fiber or they like it.

People used to say it was bad when your dogs eat grass because it meant their tummy was upset. But I think vets have come to realize that this is not always the case. With my dogs, I hope it is not the case. I'd hate to think that their tummy hurt every day!


mocrow profile image

mocrow 5 years ago from Georgia

My dog eats grass once in a while. I've always wondered why but have never bothered to ask my vet. She never gets sick after eating grass, so maybe she just likes the taste. Thanks for sharing this information about dog behavior. I wonder if we'll ever really figure out our canine friends?


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 5 years ago from Central Illinois , USA

Yes, our dog eat grass too and my husband always say it is good for him. Thanks for the information habee.


KitchenCritter profile image

KitchenCritter 4 years ago

Thanks for the info, habee! We have three dogs. A grass-eating Boston Terrier, a St Bernard, (who'll eat anything...including, grass, twigs, leaves, no to mention...two sofas & a coffee table! Last night, she saw the pool table as a snack...NO WAY, BIG BAD!!!)

And a German Shepherd, who love to sit in the sun & watch her two 'sisters' get into trouble...(Her favorite snack outside is grasshoppers...Weird dog, lol!)


andrebreynolds profile image

andrebreynolds 4 years ago

Very informative hub,


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

True, Dawn. I think vets agree that a dog eats grass sometimes just because it can. lol


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Mo, prolly not!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

ignugent, you're welcome!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

KC, your St. Bernard sounds like the Akitas we had. Dog behavior can seem very strange to humans!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Andre, thanks for stopping by!


kehussy profile image

kehussy 4 years ago from Houston, Texas, USA

Wow! I din't know this. Thanks for sharing. I actually thought that dogs eating grass is weird.


TENKAY profile image

TENKAY 4 years ago from Philippines

My labrador eat grass almost everyday. Probably to ease some upset stomach and other times just for the taste of it. For upset stomach, she usually vomit it out. My toy dogs seldom eat grass, and when they do, I think its because young grass (the shoots) tastes sweetish.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

kehussy, thanks for visiting my hub about why dogs eat grass!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Tenkay, the sweet taste might be the reason why dogs eat grass. I'm not sure we'll ever know the reason for this strange dog behavior - at least, not for all dogs. lol. Thanks for stopping by!


capecod 4 years ago

Our Yellow Lab will eat grass once in a while, though she never throws up unless she has eaten a lot of long tall grass. Very rare though, thank goodness.

A canine bovine?

Watched the first video, because "She wants to".

I told her that if she ate a lot of grass, and threw up, she could start a rock band called "Eat Grass and Hurl".

Actually she loves broccoli and carrots, cant get her out of the kitchen when Im preparing dinner.

Another topic, why does Lilly eat RABBIT poop? Because she likes it?

Why does she roll in a dead fish at the beach? Its perfume!

She has the best canine sense of humor ever.

A fun dog, will post pictures maybe later.

Im glad I found hubpages, its fun.


paintphd profile image

paintphd 4 years ago from Manchester Tennessee

My dog eats grass to purge on occasion, then he'll eat it and won't purge at all,but more intriguing is his appetite for grub worms.If I'm digging a hole to plant a tree he will sit and beg for them when one surfaces.


Shaddie profile image

Shaddie 4 years ago from Washington state

My dog eats grass because he likes to tear it up, I think. He goes nuts over wildflowers and cat tails too. So destructive!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Capecod, I love your humorous comment!


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Paint, you could save a lot of money on dog food! lol


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Wow, Shaddie, I think that's a good reason for dogs to eat grass! Sounds like you have your hands full with your furkid. lol


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

It is interesting to read why dogs eat grass. My dog Angus eats grass when his tummy is upset. That is what I have noticed. Voted up and useful. Thanks for sharing.


habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Thelma!


lisa 4 years ago

When I first got Emmy from a shelter she ate grass a lot. My chef son-in-law told me she needed fiber in her diet. I began giving her a few bites of

banana,peas and blueberries. She loves those treats along with her Spots

Stew. After a year or so she does eat grass but rarely. I also think due to the

nutrients in the grass she uses it as a cleansing agent. She is a proud Havanese and shows it everyday with her beautiful white tail as gorgeous as any peacock fan.


Bob Bamberg profile image

Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

Hi, I'm fairly new to HubPages and just catching up.

Interesting hub, habee, and interesting discussion, folks. I have a couple of alternative thoughts I'd like to present for your consideration.

On the purging theory: it so often happens that when a dog vomits after eating grass, all that comes up is the grass. If you lightly pinch and run your fingers down a blade of a broad leaf grass you'll notice that it feels like fine sandpaper. One theory holds that this is an irritant to the dog's stomach lining and that vomiting is the result of the stomach's rejection of the grass.

I like the fiber theory. It stands to reason that, since wild canids live mostly on animal protein and animal fat, grasses would be readily available fiber sources.

I wonder, then, if domestic dogs eat grass instinctively and not necessarily as a result of a dietary deficiency. We've achieved such advances in animal nutrition, and so many of today's foods are so well formulated, a dietary deficiency seems less likely to me.

Other instinctive behaviors have been rendered unnecessary by virtue of the dogs' domestication, but they haven't evolved to that conclusion yet and still engage in them. Could grass eating, then, be just one more example of their blind obedience to those internal marching orders? Just a couple of thoughts.

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