What does it mean when your dog eats grass? An overview

You want to know why your dog eats grass? This can have many reasons, we present you the 4 most common ones and also what tips you should consider. In addition, we have for this article Advice from veterinarian Mag.med.vet. Emin Jasarevic obtained. Note: This article is written for the german country.

Dog eats grass
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About one-third of dogs that eat grass beforehand vomit afterwards.

Why does my dog eat grass?

Why do our dogs keep doing this? This question is not only asked by dog owners, but also by many researchers again and again. 

The fact is that 90 % of all dogs occasionally eat grass.

Another interesting study found the following:

According to the study by S. J. Bjone of the University of New England in Australia only six vomiting dogs were recorded in a total of 1399 grass-eating events tested. This is also confirmed by numerous other studies in which researchers and veterinarians have devoted themselves to this topic.

Therefore, the theory that dogs eat grass to vomit and cleanse the stomach and intestines cannot be proven in various studies.

It has also been investigated whether there are any deficiency symptoms in dogs that eat grass, but this could not be proven either.

Furthermore, extensive observation and testing revealed that grass-eating occurred in both wolves and dogs and that one can assume that this behavior has been preserved from the wolf heritage despite domestication. It is thus innate, with the mother dog's feeding habits having a reinforcing effect on a puppy's feeding behavior.

Thus, there is no clear answer to the question of why dogs eat grass. And you shouldn't worry too much, as long as the grass eating doesn't increase alarmingly and there are no other accompanying symptoms. Many veterinarians consider this a normal behavior of dogs.

However, besides these scientific findings, there are some interesting theories as to why dogs eat grass:

The most common theory is the Stomach upset mentioned as the cause of grass eating and some dog owners know the following from their four-legged friends, maybe you do too: First, your charge eats quite a bit of grass. This is usually followed by a loud stomach rumbling, after which he begins to gag and finally vomits, usually with yellow mucus.

Most of the time, such an upset stomach is harmless to your fur bearer and he just needs his time to recover his stomach.

But unfortunately, more serious causes occur time and again. So that you are well informed about it, we have compiled the possible reasons here.

As a rule there are Physical or psychological causes. An improper diet could also cause your furry friend to eat grass. 

Another theory claims that dogs balance their diet by eating grass. If he lacks folic acid or fiber, for example, your four-legged friend responds by eating grass.


1. the wrong diet

  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Deficiency of folic acid or dietary fiber
  • Covering the water demand
  • Deficiency of various minerals
  • inadequate nutrition
  • spoiled food
  • poisoned bait

The grass contains various vitamins, folic acid, fiber and minerals. The fact that your hairy companion eats grass turns out to be Instinct. In this case, check your pet's diet and adjust it. If the grass intake decreases, you can be sure that it is because of the improper diet lay.

The right diet - or the right amount of food - depends on your dog's age, weight and activity level. Therefore, we recommend that you calculate the right amount of nutrients for your pet.

It's also important that you consult about whether your protégé is qualitative high quality dog food gets or not. Some brands do not contain the sufficient amount of vitamins, fiber and minerals.

In the following points you will learn what other theories can be associated with eating grass:

2. physical causes

  • Cleaning the gastrointestinal tract
  • Worms or parasite infestation
  • Stomach pain
  • poor digestion and bloating
  • Gastric mucosa inflammation
  • Too much stomach acid or poor digestion
  • Liver problems or kidney disease
  • Foreign bodies in the stomach (stones, hair accumulation or pieces of bone)
  • Problems with the esophagus

Many quadrupeds react instinctively when they eat grass. In the grass is about enough Magnesium contain. This magnesium has a positive effect on the stomach - and thus also on the intestines. It dampens the production of gastric acid and ensures that the acid in the stomach decreases. 

So if your protégé suffers from gastritis, grass ingestion is a good therapy.

3. psychological causes:

  • Boredom
  • old traits
  • Stress or stressful situations
  • Reinforcement of the marking behavior

Be sure to check if your furry friend is in a stressful or strained situation has been found. You may notice something that you can associate with the grass intake. If your four-legged friend reacts to stress with increased grass intake, you can counteract this by avoiding these stressful situations. 

Eating grass as a reaction to stress is not controlled by instinct. For this reason, it is counterproductive to your pet's health.

4. swallowed foreign bodies

A swallowed foreign body in your dog is an acute emergency, there is a threat of suffocation and danger to life. It may be that your protégé wants to choke out this foreign body by eating grass.

The symptoms of this are as follows:

  • constant choking
  • increased grass intake
  • Problems with swallowing
  • unusual breathing sounds (rustling, whistling, etc.) 
  • Vomiting
  • Refusal of food and water
  • absent defecation

Interesting studies on grass consumption

  • There is hardly a dog that does not eat grass (source: Veterinary College; 1982). Grass usually has a positive effect on the stomach and intestines. About 90 % of all dogs ingest grass from time to time.
  • On average, dogs eat grass about once or twice a week (study from the University of California, Benjamin Hart and Kelly Cliff).
  • About one-third of dogs that have previously eaten grass subsequently vomit (study from University of California, Benjamin Hart and Kelly Cliff)

If he also eats feces...

The popular tufts of grass are often found near the excrement of other animals.

Therefore, it is not unlikely that your furry nose - in addition to the grass - ingest the feces of other animals. Here you need to be especially careful.

The excrement usually contains dangerous and unhealthy bacteria. These bacteria significantly limit the health of your favorite.

Therefore, please always pay attention to what your little one picks up during a walk. Not only the excrements of other animals are dangerous. Just because of the spread of poison baits, you must pay close attention to what your protégé eats outside. 

Often it happens that your pet picks up some soil with the grass. As a rule, dogs like especially the tips of the grass. They are particularly soft, easier to digest and taste better.

Some pelt-noses - perhaps also yours - eat whole tufts of grass whole with the root. Through such eating behavior soil gets into the gastrointestinal tract.

Normally, you don't need to panic if your four-legged friend eats some soil along with the grass. As a rule, with this action he tries to balance his nutrient content.

The reasons for eating feces and soil are as follows:

  • wrong education by the dog owner
  • bad habit
  • Pack behavior
  • Learned at puppy age through the mother
You can find out more about this in our guide to My dog eats feces.

Grass eating dangers

In many cases, it is not dangerous for your pet to eat grass. But unfortunately, there are always situations in which it limits the health of your four-legged friend. We have listed here the possible risks and dangers.

1. risk of injury

In various places are always dangerous objects, on which your four-legged friend can injure himself. Surely it has already happened to you that your darling has stepped into glass, for example. 

Similar risks exist when eating from the grass. Sometimes there are glass fragments or other sharp objects near the tufts of grass. The ingestion of these objects is possible. 

For this reason, pay close attention to where your pet sniffs and where he eats grass. Sharp objects are life-threatening if ingested, injuring the stomach, intestines or esophagus.

2. poisonous plants

Poisonous grasses and plants are also life-threatening to your charge. As a rule, they do not grow in places where dog owners take their dog for a walk.

Nevertheless, every year there are cases when a dog suffers health damage due to eating poisonous grasses or plants.

Awns, Easter bells, Lily of the Valley or the Hogweed are plants that are poisonous and life-threatening to your dog. You can find more poisonous plant species below:

  • Ivy
  • Boxwood
  • Kirchlorbeer
  • Daffodil
  • Yew
  • Tulips

Certain houseplants are also represented here. Therefore, we recommend that you discuss the type of plant with the vet before you buy it.

Be sure to read our complete guide to poisonous houseplants by.

3. sprays, pesticides and weed killers.

These means are always used in nature. Especially in the Spring they are increasingly being used. If you're unsure, at this time of year it's better to only visit places and parks that are specifically suitable for dogs. Pay attention to the behavior of your fur bearer here as well. Dog parks are a popular place for poison bait.

4. poison bait & Co.

Unfortunately, nowadays there are always situations when poison baits are swallowed. These poison baits are usually distributed presumably in popular dog parks.

Dog haters provide attractive treats with poisons or dangerous objects. The most common items distributed are razor blades or sharp plastic as well as metal pieces.

The number of dogs affected does not seem to decrease in recent years. In 2015, there were approximately 1,800 reported situations by August of that year (gitfköder-radar.com). The number of unreported cases is much higher, as many dog owners recognize and report the true reason for the injury or poisoning.

The following symptoms may be your dog's poisoning:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • increased saliva
  • Restlessness and tremors
  • Circulation problems (swaying, staggering of your quadruped)
  • Seizures
  • Fainting states
  • dilated pupils and reddened eyes
  • Bleeding in the mucous membranes, vomit or stool
  • Breathing difficulties; up to shortness of breath

Here more about the topic Poison bait.

5. constipation and gastrointestinal problems

If your dog eats too much grass, gastrointestinal problems will occur. In particular, constipation is strongly represented here. 

When consumed in excess, the stomach no longer properly digests the grass and other food. Thus, most of the grass enters the intestine undigested; constipation is the result.

These are the places you best avoid!

Your protégé eats grass? This is not worth considering in the first place. However, you should pay attention to the places where you walk. There are always places that are not suitable for your four-legged friend to eat grass.

Forest edges can be a danger, among other things. Of course, you can still walk along these places, just make sure that your pet does not eat grass there. Poison baits are also often found at the edges of forests. 

Heavily trafficked roads - respectively Roadsides - own not likewise not for sniffing. Here, the grass is polluted by the exhaust gases. These harmful residues enter the gastrointestinal tract when eating grass.

Places in the Near allotment gardens or other private gardens should also be observed. The owners of these gardens regularly distribute pesticides, which can be spread by the wind to the surrounding area.

Consult the veterinarian if you notice these signs

At excessive consumption of grass we recommend that you visit the vet. It is possible that there is a disease behind it, which has a life-threatening effect on your pet. 

Does your dog eat only grass and he no longer pays attention to the food, it is also advisable to visit the vet. Your pet may have a foreign body in the esophagus or trachea. 

At repeated vomiting after eating grass please also consult the veterinarian. Especially if the vomiting occurs every time after eating. This is a sign that the grass has a negative effect on the gastrointestinal tract and digestion. 

Other dangerous symptoms include:

  • bloody stool
  • Blood in vomit
  • slimy residues in the excrements
  • Absence of bowel movement
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Restlessness and fatigue
  • other symptoms of a disease

Take these measures

Make sure your dog doesn't ingest grass that has become attached to is located in questionable places. Steer it during this time with a treat, or take it to the leash. Thus, you avoid the intake of dirty plants or pesticides. 

Always have a watchful eye. This applies to every walk. Follow your furry nose and make sure that he does not eat grass too often - or there are droppings as well as poisonous grasses by the grass. 

Often the Stress a cause for the consumption of grass. Try to find out what situations this behavior is due to. A DiaryThe best way to find out is to write down all the important concerns. Did you find out the reason for your pet's grass consumption? Then try to Cancel or mitigate stressful situation. 

If you're unsure whether your pet's grass consumption is a concern, just ask your veterinarian for advice when in doubt.

Frequently Asked Questions

In principle, it is not dangerous for your dog to eat grass. Many dogs exhibit this behavior. Most often there is a harmless reason for it, but this behavior can also indicate malnutrition, for example.

By eating grass, your dog may be trying to compensate for a poor diet. Or he may be using it to counteract gastrointestinal distress. Grass can also be used to remove foreign bodies from the esophagus.

The grass itself is not dangerous for your dog. However, it can happen that he ingests foreign bodies such as broken glass, pesticides or rat poison with the grass. So there is a risk of injury, choking or poisoning.

There are plants that are poisonous to your dog such as awns, lily of the valley, hogweed, or Easter lilies. These poisonous plants usually do not grow where you walk your dog. Before purchasing houseplants, you should find out if they can be poisonous to your dog.

One of the possible reasons for this is because dogs can choke out foreign bodies more easily by eating grass. Also, dogs eat grass to counteract gastrointestinal distress. Again, they can vomit up unpalatable food more easily through the grass.

Veterinarian’s Recommendation

Your four-legged friend eats grass? As a rule, this is harmless. Of course, there are always situations in which the consumption of grass can be dangerous. 

Always watch for possible overreactions or changes in behavior and your pet's overall health. 

If grass intake increases alarmingly and other symptoms are added, please see a veterinarian. BIf you are unsure, contact your veterinarian, who will advise you on the situation. It is better to go to the vet once more than too little.

 The safety of your charge always comes first.

Picture of Geprüft vom Tierarzt Mag.med.vet. Emin Jasarevic
Veterinarian Mag.med.vet. Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion, and it is my personal goal to create medically accurate articles and videos to educate pet owners as much as possible.

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