Eating grass seems to be a natural instinct in dogs as even wild dogs are known to eat grass, leaves, sticks, and stones. Domestic dogs, especially puppies, are often prone to eating grass and other objects in an effort to soothe their upset stomachs or to help with indigestion.
Grass has a fibrous texture that aids in the regurgitation process. When puppies eat grass, it provides them with a way to induce vomiting. As a result, puppies feel better when they have eaten grass and then vomited after.
Is Grass Eating Normal For Puppies?
Most veterinarians agree that dogs eating grass are quite a normal phenomenon, and when puppies eat grass, it is to aids in their digestion. If your puppy is suffering from constipation, they may self-medicate by eating grass.
Since grass is a natural source of roughage, eating grass may help your dog to restore normal bowel functioning. The fibrous tissue of the grass can assist your dog’s digestion by scraping away any blockages that may be causing constipation.
Likewise, your dog may also intend to make themselves throw up to rebalance their stomach pH. The small hairs that are found on many grass species may act like a brush, gently agitating the stomach lining, which triggers the natural peristalsis movement of the stomach lining.
Once the stomach is overstimulated by the grass, it may lead to reverse peristalsis and vomiting. Since your puppy can’t stick their finger down their throat to induce vomiting, this is the best alternative way to relieve themselves of an upset stomach.
When Is There a Problem With My Puppy Eating Grass?
If a puppy eats grass frequently, it can be a sign that something is wrong in their digestive tract. When a puppy eats grass often, it can also become a habitual act, known as pica. Puppies that chew on random objects and non-edible things can begin to suffer from serious side effects.
Side effects of pica include poor dental formation in young dogs, enzyme upset, and loss of fluid through compulsive vomiting.
Why Puppies Eat Grass
Puppies may eat grass to fill up their bellies when they aren’t being fed enough or if they have parasitic problems such as worms and other digestive problems. They may also eat grass to relieve boredom or to help digestion if they are constipated or bilious.
How to Stop a Puppy Eating Grass
To stop your puppy from regularly eating grass, you could change their food to address any dietary deficiencies, get them some toys to help relieve boredom, or consult with your vet about a better feeding routine to ensure they are well-fed and not hungry.
Potential Dangers in Puppies Grass Eating
Eating grass in small quantities can be useful and even healthy for puppies, but when a puppy eats too much grass, it can lead to bloat and colic. Grass can also contain different microorganisms, which can cause an upset stomach in puppies.
When a puppy has been exposed to bacteria and microorganisms through eating grass, it can struggle with serious stomach upsets. Additionally, puppies can’t digest grass as they lack the required enzymes to digest cellulose (the main fiber in the grass).
Carnivores don’t produce cellulase (the enzyme needed to digest cellulose), so dogs can’t digest grass or extract any nutritional value. The grass is only suitable as a source of manual roughage then.
Minimizing the Risk of Grass Eating
Avoid Herbicides and Pesticides
If your puppy is munching away at your lawn, it is up to you to ensure your grass hasn’t been chemically treated. Puppies can easily ingest poisonous residues with the grass they chew, which can lead to serious illness and death.
Keep the Grass Short
Puppies are not able to chew through their grass snacks, which can lead to long stalks entering their esophagus and potentially choking them. By letting your puppy eat short grass, you ensure they can chew effectively, and you help them find the choicest grass shoots.
Pick up Fecal Matter
When the lawn is covered with dog poop, chances are your puppy will do more than just eat grass. It is a good idea to keep your grassy areas poop-free so your puppy only eats grass and not other contaminants like poop.
Restrain Your Puppy
If your puppy is gorging on grass, it may be time to restrain them, keeping them from grassy areas to stop them from eating grass. A puppy that is constantly eating grass may need to be stopped by fitting your puppy in a harness to keep them under control when out and about.
Teach Your Puppy “No”
From an early age, you can teach your puppy the word “no,” but if this word choice is too forceful, you can opt for a gentler word like “down.” Essentially, you are trying to teach your puppy to stop doing whatever they’re doing when you tell them “no.”
A puppy that learns this command early on will be a pleasure as you can use it to tell them they need to stop something destructive or they need to put something down. Using this command you can teach your puppy to stay safe and not eat grass.
Retrain a Compulsive Grass Eating Puppy
If your puppy has developed a compulsion to eat grass, it will take some retraining. Each time they try to eat grass, gently reprimand them with a “no” or “down.” When they do so, praise them, call them over, and give them a toy instead.
Substituting chew toys for eating grass is a good way to keep your puppy occupied.
Puppy Chewing Grass FAQs
How do I stop my puppy from eating grass?
If your puppy eats grass, you can distract them, keep them occupied with toys or games, ensure they are harnessed and on a lead, and ensure they are well-fed when they go outside.
Should you let your dog eat grass if they want to?
There is no problem with occasional grass-eating with your dog or puppy. As long as this doesn’t happen frequently or your dog shows any negative effects from eating grass, it is okay to let them nibble a few blades of grass.
Does grass calm a dog’s stomach?
Since grass is a source of roughage, it can help soothe an upset stomach, which is probably why dogs eat grass. Care should be taken to ensure your dog doesn’t eat grass that is contaminated with pesticides or other dogs’ poop, which may contain parasites.
How do I stop my puppy from eating everything outside?
What starts as grass-eating may soon become gnawing on everything your puppy can find outside. To stop a puppy from eating grass, you may need to investigate what the underlying cause of compulsive eating is. Your puppy may be ill or teething, and they may use foreign objects like grass and twigs to self-medicate.
Once you know what is causing the abnormal eating behavior, it is time to intervene. A muzzle can help manage your dog when you’re not within reach to stop them from eating grass and other undesirable things.
The Last Word
Puppies tend to explore their world with their mouths, chewing on everything they can find. Normally, this isn’t a problem. However, when your puppy is chewing on grass and other strange things and won’t stop, it is time for you to take action.
Have your puppy checked by your vet, take steps to stop chewing behavior, and begin training your puppy to listen to you.