Almost every dog owner has noticed their pup eating grass at one point or another. With the common perception that eating grass will make a dog vomit shortly after, many people assume that a dog with an upset stomach will eat grass to induce vomiting and help relieve their stomach pain.
But studies have shown that eating grass causes dogs to get sick only in 25% of cases, so curing an upset stomach may not be the reason your dog is nibbling on grass. Here are the truths behind why dogs eat grass, what you should watch out for, and how you can be sure your dog stays healthy.
Of all the dogs that eat grass, only about 1 in 4 owners said their dog vomited immediately afterwards. From that number, only 10% of dogs appeared to be feeling unwell beforehand. This seems to indicate that the commonly held assumption, shared even by veterinarians, that dogs can make themselves sick from eating grass may not be widely true.
Dogs that do eat grass and then vomit may need to be seen by a vet, since eating plants is likely not the underlying cause of illness. Instead, your dog could have a gastrointestinal issue, food allergy, or is eating too much human food.
We do not yet know for sure why some dogs like eating grass, although scientists and dog behaviorists have a few ideas:
Whether or not grass makes your dog sick, it is probably still best to keep him from munching on grass in the backyard or during your walks. The grass itself may not be harmful, but pesticides, fertilizers, and waste left behind on the grass from other animals can be extremely dangerous to ingest. Teaching “leave it” and keeping an eye on your dog outdoors can help prevent unfortunate incidents involving grass eating.