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Monday, February 22 2016
Why dogs eat grass and why you need to know.

Why dogs eat grass?

I'm often asked by pet owners why dog's eat grass. This is also one of the most searched for questions of pet owners on the internet. The truth is that nobody knows for sure and little research has been done on the topic.

Theories for why dogs eat grass:

  • to induce vomiting to provide relief for stomach distress,
  • because of a deficiency in their diet,
  • it's behaviour in their genes passed on from their ancestors,
  • and they eat grass simply because they like it.

What does the research show?

As listed above, one popular theory is that dog's eat grass to induce vomiting to relive stomach discomfort. It's a popular theory, but iss there any evidence to support it? A study conducted at UC Davis in 2008 tested the theory that dogs ate grass to induce vomiting or because they had a nutritional deficiency. The study surveyed 25 veterinary students that all had grass eating pet dogs. None of them reported any signs of their dog being ill before it ate grass. Only 8% reported that their dog regularly vomited after eating grass.

These same researchers at UC Davis next a survey of 47 dog owners that had brought their dog to UC Davis for outpatient medical care. This group reported that 79% had observed their dog eating grass. Of those 79% that ate grass only 4 were observed to display any signs of illness and only 6 were observed to vomit afterwards.

The researchers then expanded their survey group to a larger group that resulted in a set of approximately 1,500 sets of web based data. The results were similar to the first two surveys. 68% observed their dog eating grass either daily or weekly. Only 8% reported their dog showing any signs of illness prior to eating grass and 22% of the dogs vomited after eating grass. There was no support to show that dogs were eating grass because of a nutritional deficiency.

Conclusion

The researchers concluded that grass or plant eating is normal behavior for domestic dogs.

The researchers also suggested that grass eating may reflect an innate predisposition inherited from dogs' wild ancestors.

Why you need to know.

Now that you understand that grass eating is probably normal behavior for your dog, you'll want to be cautious with the use of any pesticides or chemicals used in your lawn. When you have pets it's always best to use natural, pet safe products to treat your lawn.

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Posted by: Barry Neichin, DVM AT 01:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Comments:
I had a beagle for 15 years that was a grass-eater. My parents always said that it was natural to his diet, and that sometimes he needed it more than others. Their explanation was akin to the present-day statement that humans need fiber regularly in their diet. I don't ever remember a connection between the grass eating and vomiting.
Posted by George Roswell on 02/23/2016 - 11:34 AM
Every time my Corgi Jack Russell mix eats grass he vomits. It seems like he is doing to induce the vomiting actually. Should this concern me?
Posted by Chris T on 02/23/2016 - 12:58 PM
My boxer ate grass regularly and immediately vomited afterwards. I told the vet and she prescribed pills to take before bed to reduce stomach acid in the morning! It totally worked! Now I just need a way to remember to give her the pill!!
Posted by Janey D. on 02/23/2016 - 01:43 PM
My 6 lb.Yorkie, Oliver, will on occasion eat some grass. After he's done this, I have to closely follow his whereabouts in the house because Invariably he'll end up vomiting somewhere. He does seem to perk up after doing so.
Posted by Dr. Sandy on 02/24/2016 - 10:34 PM

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Dr. Barry Neichin

Dr. Barry Neichin
Chief of Staff
ABC Veterinary Hospital
San Marcos CA

When he's not busy with his duties at the hospital, Dr. Neichin can be found outside, either on the trails hiking and camping or in the water snorkeling and skin diving, as well as spending time with his two children. His family also includes Tonka, a Golden Retriever; Leo, a miniature Golden Doodle; Cosmo, a Siamese, and Ruffles, a rabbit.
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