why dogs eat grass is a mystery to many

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass Then Throw Up?

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Why do dogs eat grass and weeds and then throw up? It’s an age old question. Granted they don’t throw up all the time but this is often the case. Is it fun for them? Does grass taste nice (but then why throw it up)? Are dogs salad fanatics or just taste-testing?

Since many Aussie dogs seem committed to keeping up with this carb-rich diet, PD Insurance has decided to unpack the why, how and what of dogs eating grass.

If your dog is mowing the lawn for food or you’re simply curious then take a look at the potential risks and rewards of a dog eating grass.

dog eating grass on the side of a road

Does a dog eating grass mean anything?

Does a dog eating grass mean anything out of the ordinary? After all, our dogs routinely eat strange things besides grass with very little ceremony.

Think about it… Dogs often seem content taking the occasional whiff and then taste of pooch poop (why!?). Then of course there’s also the more mundane things they like to eat. Like socks, homework, the odd shoe, kids’ toys, electrical cables – wait a minute!

Now might be a good time to mention our guide to puppy teething and puppy proofing your house to prevent electric shocks and other dangers. After all we’re all about responsible dog ownership.

Now with the above bookmarked, let’s move on… Does a dog eating a few weeds and fronds of grass mean much of anything? As a matter of fact it can indicate a range of dog health needs. Let’s unpack this further.

a dog chews on and eats a bit of a small broom

Have dogs evolved to eat grass?

Dogs became our carb-loving besties over thousands of years of human-dog coevolution. The history of dogs shows they were the first mammal ever to become domesticated! That’s why the contemporary pup is generally able to have the odd French fry, tortilla or slice of buttered toast.

You might be interested to know this has been made possible by starch-processing genes that dogs developed by eating a range of human foods. Even though wolves are dogs’ closest living relatives they don’t have these genes. As dogs became our BFFs we ultimately changed their habits, diet and even their biology.

Wolves on the other hand have a gastrointestinal (GI) system that’s designed to eat mainly raw meat. In other words by eating grass dogs might just be doing what they’ve evolved to do, which is to eat more fibre and carbs.

Now let’s delve into potential solid reasons your dog eats a bit of grass.

woman pets dog

What are the three reasons your dog eats grass?

Although there’s no certain reason for dogs eating grass, there are several possible reasons that indicate it could be beneficial.

Provided your dog eats weeds and grasses only occasionally and without too much fuss then it could be perfectly normal and potentially healthful.

Here are three benefits dogs may derive from eating grass:  

  1. Improves digestion. The fibre-rich diet may help regulate and improve digestion
  2. Detox. Eating grass may help flush out harmful substances and parasites such as intestinal worms
  3. Enjoyment. Vets and scientists believe some dogs like the taste, while it could also be entertaining

High-in-fibre diets tend to be good for human health so perhaps our furkids are onto something. Read about dog gut health and the pros and cons of a raw food diet.

The general rule of thumb is to keep an eye on how often, how much and how frantically your dog is eating grass. If they’re flushing out something bad they’ve eaten then eating grass and vomiting may do the job.

Sometimes though it may be something more serious that requires a helping hand. More on that below.

woman stands in long grass and hugs her dog

Why dogs eat grass then throw up

Dogs routinely seem to eat grass and then throw up. Could it be this is the reason for eating grass – to make themselves throw up?

Research shows that 79% of dogs eat grass and only 22% throw up afterwards. This shows that eating grass isn’t always linked to throwing up and isn’t the only reason dogs do it. Though it is one of them.

The occasional frond of lawny snack is fine but if it becomes an obsessive activity then there could be an underlying health concern.

🌿 Underlying health considerations

Obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs can of course become a health issue in its own right but usually it results from an upset, whether physical or psychological. Separation anxiety in pets, for example, or expelling a foreign object.

Although your dog might just be getting rid of a mild tummy upset, if they’re vomiting it could also be gastro.

Further, make sure it’s actually grass that your pet is eating. If they appear to be eating other weeds and plants be sure they’re not toxic plants for dogs.

🌿 Changes in behaviour

Thankfully dogs eating grass is a common behaviour and generally not associated with illness. However you should watch out for any sudden increase in grass intake and vomiting.

Also keep a lookout for other physical changes. For example, did your dog used to eat grass and throw up every once in a while but now it’s becoming routine? Is your dog suddenly pooping way more often than normal? Are they eating grass frantically? Have they stopped eating as much food or as regularly or are they suddenly eating more?

These are all warning signs that something might be amiss with their health.

dog eating weeds, flowers and grass

Do dogs eat grass and throw up when they are sick?

All your dog’s behaviour is a way of them communicating their needs and state of health and wellness with you. Any behavioural changes together with your dog eating grass could point to an underlying illness. This could be inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, or something else.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive drooling or lip-licking
  • Decreased appetite
  • Changes to your dog’s fur (which can also be indicative of Cushing’s disease)

If your champion shows any of these symptoms and is also eating grass, he or she could be proactively trying to self-medicate. This could signal that it’s time to consider checking in with your vet.

They know your dog’s health history and will be able to help assess whether it’s good old normal dog behaviour. Or whether some added medical attention is needed for a soft landing.

As you can see a dog eating grass can often be harmless but can sometimes require a vet check up.

Did you know that grass seed infection in dogs and cats is not only possible but can be quite serious. Read this ‘True or False: Grass Seeds Can Cause Severe Infections in Pets‘ article to learn more.

dog smiling up at the camera

A low carb diet plan

If you’re concerned about your dog’s grass eating habits then consider giving them wheatgrass for dogs instead.

Wheatgrass for dogs is sometimes also called pet grass. It grows well as a porch plant and doubles as a fresh source of gluten-free fibre for a foraging snout. It also packs health benefits like enzymes, vitamins and minerals, but be sure to use chemical-free soil. 

As we all know dogs will try eating things outside of their safe space. If your dog is eating weeds, grass and a whole bunch of other stuff outside of dog food then read our article Can Dogs Eat…? for a range of answers on what’s safe and what’s not.

If you’d like to learn more about dog diets see this list of commonly asked questions and click through for the answers:

Besides giving your dog the diet and love they deserve there’s another way to safeguard them…

Is pet insurance worth it?

If you’re asking this question it’s worthwhile remembering that underlying GI conditions don’t always present symptoms right away. Left unchecked these can lead to more serious complications that eventually require hospitalisation.

Acting upfront to cover vet visit costs can do more than save money, it can help put your mind at ease and keep your bestie safe. It’s valuable to have dog insurance to cover pooch for vet visits, medication and hospitalisation for conditions that aren’t pre-existing.

Get one or more months of award winning pet insurance with PD insurance. Click below to get a quote.

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