Have you ever caught your dog nibbling on the grass when you let them out or when you’re on a walk? While it may seem strange to us, eating grass is common and a completely normal behavior in dogs. Sometimes, however, chowing down on the yard could mean they have an upset tummy or other condition.
Learn more about why dogs eat grass and what to do if you suspect your pup is trying to self-medicate a stomachache.
Eating Grass: Harmless Habit or a Sign of Illness?
Our furry friends have a reputation for eating just about anything, including the lawn. While eating grass is often nothing to worry about, there might be an underlying medical condition that your dog is trying to treat naturally. Here are a few common reasons why dogs eat grass.
Just like people, our dogs can experience an upset stomach from time to time. Anxiety, changes in diet or a stomach bug could be at the root of your dog’s tummy woes. Or, your pup might have even gotten into something they weren’t supposed to, like the trash or human food.
Symptoms of an upset stomach in your dog might include:
- Loose stool
- Loss of appetite
Your dog will eat grass in an effort to soothe their upset tummy by inducing vomiting. If your dog throws up after eating grass, keep in mind that this is a normal reaction; however, it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on your pup to make sure it isn’t something more serious. If your dog’s stomachache symptoms don’t subside within a couple of days, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Your pup’s dog food formula should provide a complete and balanced diet, including essential vitamins and other nutrients. However, if your dog isn’t getting the nutrition they need because they aren’t getting the proper amount of food or they are eating the wrong things (e.g., table scraps), then they might be trying to get more nutrients from the grass.
To help discourage this reason for eating grass, talk with your veterinarian about finding a dog food recipe that will meet their nutritional needs, as well as how much to feed them.
The most common reason that dogs eat grass is instinct. Our furry friends are scavengers by nature, and eating plant matter from the grass or garden is a normal behavior. So, if your pup occasionally enjoys snacking on the lawn, there’s usually no cause for concern.
While eating grass is often a harmless habit, it can make them sick if the lawn has been treated with herbicides, insecticides, pesticides or fertilizers. These can irritate your dog’s stomach and cause other serious symptoms.
Be especially mindful of your dog’s grass-eating habit if your yard has been fertilized. Many fertilizers contain harmful chemicals and compounds called organophosphates or carbamates. Ingestion of these chemicals can cause symptoms ranging from mild, including drooling and watery eyes, to serious, such as seizures, difficulty breathing and even death.
If you suspect your pet has ingested fertilizer or large quantities of herbicides, insecticides or pesticides, contact your veterinarian right away. The sooner your dog is treated for possible poisoning, the better.
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