Why do dogs eat grass?

The age old question posed to many a veterinarian - why does my dog eat grass? Many of us get away with a vague, ambiguous answer but the truth is we don't really know why dogs eat grass. Some dogs eat grass and then promptly throw up, which gives rise to the most popular theory of dogs eating grass because they feel nauseous. But what are some other reasons and whats the facts behind them?

Eating Grass to Induce Vomiting

We all have had a pet dog that starts walking restlessly around the house and then runs outside, eats a bunch of grass and vomits. But what we don't know is if the dogs eat the grass to make themselves vomit, or to make themselves feel better. Studies also show only 9-22% of dogs that eat grass show any signs of illness or vomiting afterwards.

Eating Grass because of Dietary Deficiency

Dogs lack the correct enzymes to truly digest grass, which is why you often find undigested grass in your dogs poop after its been on a grass eating binge. And all dogs on a commercial diet shouldn't be lacking in fiber or vitamins needed for daily life.

They Do it because Their Ancestors Did

When conducting surveys on wild canid poop (such as wolves and jackals) plant and grass material is found commonly. There are many theories as to why this happens including to help 'eat' other animals scents to mark territory more effectively and to help with intestinal worm burdens by entrapping the worms in the grass then passing them.

Because They Like It

Sounds too simple doesn't it? But what if dogs eat grass because they enjoy the taste? Many dogs will source out a particular blade of grass that appeals to them or is particularly luscious. The few studies that have been done looking into why dogs eat grass suggest that in majority of dogs its just a normal behaviour and causes no harm.

In the end all of these theories could have some truth behind them, but then again why does a dog do anything? Sometimes they decide our brand new shoes are the tastiest treat around, or sit in the back yard chewing rocks and sticks. In the end we don't fully understand the inner workings of mans best friend, and we likely never will. But after seeing my own dog, Molly, munch grass like a cow that hasn't been fed in a week I have concluded that she doesn't have worms, is on a good diet and is rarely sick so maybe she does just like it! I'll let you decide but hopefully this helps give you some ideas next time some one asks you "Why do dogs eat grass?".

 Molly and Rory often enjoyed sharing a tasty blade of grass!

Molly and Rory often enjoyed sharing a tasty blade of grass!

ADDITIONAL READING/ARTICLES

https://www.une.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/32446/bjone-brown-price-grass-eating20patterns-raan-2007.pdf

http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591%2807%2900182-7/abstract