You have brought your dog to your backyard and left him out for his play. Minutes later, he comes looking for you with grass all over his mouth and you know that he had been eating the grass at the yard.
So what makes him do that and how can you stop him?
Dogs eat grass for reasons such as nutritional deficiencies, behavior driving or medical issues. For nutritional deficiencies, replace his dry kibbles with a fresh raw food diet. To correct his behavior drive, ease his boredom and loneliness through engaging him with physical and mental simulation.
PHYSICAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL needs
This could be the case where he lacks nutrients or fiber in his body and eating grass helps to supplement this deficiency since he doesn’t get them from his diet. Or he is simply just feeling hungry.
Another possible reason could be he has an upset stomach and eating grass somehow helps to relieve his discomfort by inducing vomiting. In this case, you will often see him vomiting shortly after eating the grass.
This is similar to us when you are feeling nauseous and having a stomach upset, you will feel much better after throwing up.
So this is what your dog is trying to do, throwing out what’s making him uncomfortable in his stomach through eating the grass. The grass will tickle his throat and make him vomit out any foreign objects that are upsetting his stomach.
Or he could be doing it because he is bored or anxious. If your dog is full of energy and you have not provided any outlet for him to let off this excessive energy, he will be eating grass as a way to entertain himself and keep him busy.
Look Into His Diet (Nutritional Deficiency)
Many times, this could often be the main reason for your dog eating ants or grass. His body may be lacking some essential micronutrient’s fiber to function properly.
Think about how your body is going to react if you eat JUST cereal or fast food every single day without any FRESH food. You are likely going to suffer stomach discomfort sometimes down the road.
This is exactly what is going to happen to your dog. He is getting all that processed dry kibbles or canned food for all his meals and certainly his body is going to “complain”.
What you would need is to make changes in his routine diet to include a whole fresh raw food diet along with a fresh source of real green veggies (to meet his chlorophyll needs) to make his diet a balanced one.
You see, the reason why highly processed kibble can stay on the shelf for months or even years is because all the carbs and preservatives are packed to it, which biologically, no dogs would want to eat (if they are given a choice).
That’s why you would need to occasionally feed your dog with fresh foods or meats as he has a shorter digestive tract and higher acidity in his stomach.
Fresh food makes digestion much easier and prevents him from having a stomach upset.
When looking for a raw food for your dog, look for meat bone and organ content. Dogs thrive in the presence of higher healthy protein, healthy fats, and low carbs.
So keep this requirement in mind (especially the low carbs) when you are searching for appropriate raw food for your dog.
You may not see the carbs count information printed on the packing of the raw dog food, and this is how you can do the rough carbs count calculation of the food.
— Take all the percentage readings under the guaranteed analysis (e.g.protein, fat, fiber, moisture, calcium etc) and subtract the final value from 100. This will give you the carbs count reading.
You should look for a raw food that is less than 5% carbs.
The amount of carbs presents in the food is a critical ingredient as too much carbs might have correlation to metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and epilepsy in your dog.
If you find that your dog eating the dirt or the grass is more of a behavior issue rather than any physical problem, avoid giving him any opportunity to practice that eating behavior.
Your dog might just like the texture of the grass and consider it as a fun activity and trying to satisfy his chewing desire.
What you should avoid doing is to let him roam around the yard without any leash as this will offer him an opportunity to do what he wants (which is eating grass) without any control.
This is often the case when you freely let your dog go out for his potty and guess what he will do next? He will go straight to the patches of grass in the yard and start eating them after he is done with his potty.
So to effectively address this issue, you would have to put him on a leash and bring him out for potty to ensure that he doesn’t get the chance to eat that grass. Bring him back to the house after his potty.
In this way, you are physically stopping him from practicing that habit and breaking that kind of cycle.
You can also teach your dog the “Leave It” command so that you can use it whenever you see that he is going to eat the grass.
He Is Bored (Full Of Pent-Up Energy)
When your dog is full of pent-up energy and has no outlet to release that excessive energy in his body, he would come out with things to keep him occupied such as eating the grass or eating his poop.
You might also find him playing with his food (rolling on it), instead of eating it.
What you can do is to help your dog release his energy to keep him in low energy mode.
Plan for some physical and mental simulation games for your dog to engage daily. Depending on the age and breed of your dog, you would have to plan for sufficient playtime for him to drain off his excessive energy and keep him tired.
Typically, an adult dog would need at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours of physical exercise each day. You can cut down the exercise time as he reaches his “senior” status which is between the age of 7 – 10 years old.
As a guideline, for a dog of 6 months old, he would need 30 minutes of playtime and that translates to 1 month for 5 minutes of exercise time.
Of course, if your dog belongs to a hyperactive breed such as Border Collie or Labrador Retriever, he would need more playtime to tone down his energetic level.
Playing with your dog is also a good way to build up his trust and bond with you.
You can plan for interactive physical games such as Tug of war, flirt pole or Frisbee for your dog to engage in. They work well in helping your dog to let off his energy.
Do not forget to add in some mental simulation exercises for your dog. Games that need your dog to use his brain power can help to get him mentally tired and be less active.
I would usually give my dog a KONG toy stuffed with frozen meat to make him think of a way to get that food out from the toy. This will make him utilize his brain power and get him mentally tired.
Apart from this, I also love to incorporate some obedience training for him as part of mental simulation exercise.
When he learns to follow and executes these basic obedience commands, it makes him use his brain power.
There is a saying that “A tired dog is a GOOD dog” and keeping him in low energy mode (both mentally and physically) for the day will make him an obedient dog!
He Wants Your Attention (Feeling Lonely)
Eating grass could also be his way to get your attention as he knows that whenever he did that, you would come over to him and stop him from doing it.
What you would need to do is to break his association that eating grass is getting your attention.
To do this, you would have to use the “Leave It” command. When you see that your dog is going to do this undesirable action, give him the “Leave It” command and when he gives up his action, praise him and give him a pet.
This will help him to associate that by not eating the grass, GOOD things will happen. He will get your praise and love (petting).
And dogs like to please their masters, so he will learn that by NOT doing this habit, you would be happy with him and giving him your affection.
You might want to bring your dog to a holistic veterinarian for a health check up if you have tried addressing his physical (nutritional causes) and psychological (lonely, boredom or behavioral drive) needs, but he still keeps eating grass.
Health issues (such as persistent upset stomach) could be another potential reason. You would often see other signs of sickness such as licking his lips or drooling when he is not feeling well.
Be prepared for some following answers that your veterinarian would need from you.
1. How often does your dog eat grass? Once a month, once a week or every single day?
2. Does he do this before he is fed? When he is most hungry? Or right after his meal?
3. Does he do this early in the morning? Or before he goes to bed?
4. Or does it just happen randomly?
Your vet is likely going to perform a full physical examination (from nose to tail), especially on his abdomen to check for anything unusual.
Lab tests which include urine and blood samples along with a stool test (to ensure that he doesn’t have parasites) will likely be required.