Is it ok for my dog to eat grass?

Is it okay for your dog to eat grass? Do you know why he likes to graze on it?

Ah, spring is finally here…the scent of fresh, green grass is in the air. It smells good enough to…eat? Perhaps if you’re a dog! Certainly you’ve witnessed your dog eat grass at one time or another, but do you know why he does it? The truth is, no one really knows, except your dog. Different dogs enjoy noshing on different types of grass for a variety of reasons. The trick is trying to identify your dog’s reason in an effort to curb the behavior, if necessary.

Great news, nibbling on a little grass is usually not problematic!

Some of you may be thinking “Is it okay for my dog to eat grass?” or "Eating grass doesn't seem to bother my dog, so why should I prevent it?" The general consensus from the veterinarian community is that grass eating is nothing to cause concern; many consider grass eating to be a normal, harmless behavior. However, there are certain circumstances to take into consideration.

There are several reasons why your pup may be drawn towards snacking on grass

Theories as to why canines like to indulge in a grass snack now and again include natural instinct, to relieve stomach discomfort, to gain attention from their human, to improve digestion, out of boredom, to fill a nutritional void, and for simple pleasure.

If you suspect your dog is eating grass out of boredom, try engaging him in outdoor exercise or buy him a new chew toy to keep his choppers occupied. For a nutritional deficiency, switching to a high-fiber food may eliminate your dog’s desire for grass. As for stomach discomfort, it is believed dogs use this as a method to cleanse their digestive system. If your dog displays signs of stomach discomfort, or vomits after ingesting grass, try an over-the-counter remedy such as a little bit of Pepto-Bismol or Pepsid crushed and mixed with water (always consult with your vet before proceeding with a home treatment).

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Before you give your dog the OK to nosh on your lawn, consider the following:

Although most experts conclude grazing on grass itself is not harmful to your four-legged friend, keep the following in mind: 1) there may be an underlying issue with your dog that causes him to graze and it would be beneficial to know what that reason may be; 2) if your lawn has been treated with a pesticide, fertilizer or weed killer, do not allow your dog to eat the grass, as it can be quite toxic; 3) when walking your dog in an area other than your own yard, it is best to err on the side of caution and prevent any grass nibbling; and 4) know which plants in your yard are toxic, as they could present a problem if your dog munches on them along with the grass (check www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants for a list of toxic and non-toxic plants).

Always be aware of your pup's overall health

So, when should you be concerned over Fido’s choice of snack? If he has diarrhea, acts sluggish or experiences weight loss in conjunction with grass eating, he or she should pay a visit to the vet. If not, you can probably rest easy knowing your dog is just doing what most dogs do. 

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