Just like how cats love to eat catnip, many dogs also enjoy eating grass. Sometimes, dogs living in the wild will consume grass to relieve their upset stomachs. But for dogs living in homes and receiving proper care with many other medical options available, what is the reason for their grass consumption?
From a behavioural perspective, eating grass is more of a learned behaviour for dogs. When dogs are still puppies, they want to try everything, and if they eat grass outside and find that it’s not too bad tasting and safe, then they will increase the frequency of this behaviour and start to “love eating grass”.
Many dog owners’ experience is that dogs eat grass to induce vomiting because they feel uncomfortable in their stomachs due to overeating or eating something wrong, so they will eat some plants to stimulate their stomachs and achieve self-induced vomiting. If dogs only do this occasionally, there is no need to worry too much.
Dogs with mental illnesses can also cause them to exhibit abnormal behaviour, such as separation anxiety and depression. When dogs feel anxious due to their owner’s absence, they will find things to chew on (plants, toys, etc.). If dogs show these symptoms, owners must increase the time spent with them, take them out for more exercise, and interact with them frequently so that they can relax and no longer feel anxious.
Dogs are very curious, and they will use their sense of smell and chewing to learn about many things. When they first go to play in the grass outside after birth, they will want to taste it and see if they can eat it. If they taste the sweetness of a certain plant, they will continue to look for it and eat it next time.
Sometimes, if dogs love to eat grass, it may be because their bodies lack certain trace elements, which makes them want to eat grass when they see it. In addition to grass, dogs may also eat soil, and wall plaster, which are all symptoms of having pica. In this case, giving dogs trace elements for a few days may help improve their condition.
If you have noticed, some dogs really like to eat grass and vegetables, which may be related to their genetic habits. In the past, stray dogs had to find their own food, so eating meat could help them restore their strength. Nowadays, pet dogs are fed by people every day, so grass and other plants are still attractive to them, and occasionally eating some can be a good change of taste.