Phone: 651-283-7216

My dog is turning into a cow.

Many of us dog owners have witnessed our pups chowing down on what seems to be an unlikely delicacy — fresh green grass. Try as we might, we just can’t seem to get through to them that grass is not food. So why exactly are dogs so eager to eat the stringy green stuff? Are they hungry? Is it an obsessive-compulsive thing? Are they sick? Should we let our dogs chow down on our beautiful back yard like cows in a pasture, or is it better to stop their herbivorous tendencies?

It’s pretty common for dogs to eat grass, and there are several reasons why your dog may have decided that grass is an acceptable food source. The most widely-known theory is that dogs eat grass when they feel ill. Others say that it could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, and that canines start eating grass in an attempt to “fill in” nutrient gaps in their regular diet. Others propose that it’s simply a sign of boredom and that these dogs need to be distracted, exercised and entertained.

The veterinary community doesn’t have a rock-solid explanation for why dogs eat grass. There have been some smaller-scale studies conducted, but we must take their results with a grain of salt until more research and larger studies can reaffirm their findings. One small study found that less than 10% of dogs were acting sick before they started treating the back yard like their own personal hay field. The same study found that less than 25% of dogs that routinely eat grass will vomit afterwards. This seems to dispel the notion that dogs eat grass when they’re sick… but we can’t really say for sure at this point. It’s even possible that dogs just like the taste and/or texture of grass and so enjoy munching on it.

So now you know that no one really knows what’s going on. Which is frustrating, of course. This is one of those phenomena that just hasn’t been sufficiently researched yet, probably because grass-eating doesn’t pose a high risk to dog health. Should you stop your dog from continuing his grazing habits? Given that grass-eating has not been proven to be beneficial to canine health, and eating too much grass has been shown to induce vomiting and other GI symptoms, we are inclined to say yes. There’s no reason why your pooches need grass in their diet. If you treat your lawn with herbicides and pesticides, consuming large amounts of grass could potentially be harmful to your pup.

Grass-munching may be a hard habit to break. It’s especially challenging when dogs are outside unattended. How are you supposed to stop a behavior when you’re not always there to witness it? We have a few ideas for you. If you think your dogs are grazing because they’re bored, try to increase their activity levels throughout the week. Keep them engaged with frisbee games, walks, chew toys, food puzzles, and other fun activities that will stimulate their minds and exhaust their bodies. Just be mindful of outdoor temperatures — dogs can suffer from heat exhaustion on hot and humid days, so don’t overdo the outdoor exercise and always have water available. 

This is one of those dilemmas that requires a “trial and error” approach. If you’ve tried providing additional mental and physical stimulation for your pup and you still haven’t needed to use the lawn mower this summer, we suggest you speak with your veterinarian. They may have more specific recommendations based on their knowledge of your pet, your lifestyle and your home environment.

Sharing is Caring


Subscribe to Our Blog!

Receive an email when we post a new article!