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Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

pitbull puppy dog eating grassMy dog, Jackson, loves to eat grass. I began to worry that people might think that I starve him because there we are at the park and he won’t stop chowing down on the grass. Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Ryes, he doesn’t discriminate. The frequency of this tendency to picnic on the lawn got me thinking, why? After the ample amount of dog food and the ever present treats we give him, why does he feel the need to eat it?

I knew I wasn’t alone. I’d heard of and seen many dogs eating grass, but being an attentive (read: helicopter) dad I convinced myself that my puppy was doing it a lot more than other dogs, almost compulsively. We’ve all heard the run of explanations from people, such as it indicates an upset stomach, to it’s normal – all dogs do it, or that my dog is bored. I’ve even heard of some dogs throwing up or getting deathly ill after eating grass. Not knowing wasn’t going to cut it for me; I had to find out. Below is what I learned.

Nothing.

Nada.

No one knows.

Are you kidding me?? In this day and age you mean to tell me we don’t know why dogs eat grass? Honest, it’s true, I’ve done the research. There are numerous theories, but that’s all they are, theories.

Theory 1: Self-help for upset stomach

One of the common theories I came across is that dogs do it for an upset stomach and it can actually induce vomiting in order to make them feel better (like a doggie ipecac), but no one can really say for sure if the dog’s stomach was upset beforehand and the grass helped them, or if it’s the grass that made them feel sick and throw up. Also, Jackson never threw up from eating the grass and, if I may say so, his poop is usually perfect (so proud).

Theory 2: Instinct of omnivores

Some sources said that it’s a natural dog instinct to eat grass being as they are omnivores and that perhaps eating grass indicates they are missing some nutritional part of their diet. This is hard for me to believe, in my case anyway, because we feed Jackson good quality food and even most of his treats are on the nutritious side.

Jack russell puppy dog eating grass

The good news – there’s no need to panic

One bright spot of my research is that I didn’t find any mention of some horrible disease that dogs can contract from eating grass. If it exists, it’s not common and maybe I can move that off my list of things to worry about (down to triple digits now!).

So all that research and I still don’t have an answer, but as fate would have it, one day Jackson suddenly stopped eating grass. Of course this lead to a whole slew of other questions as to why he would suddenly stop eating it (impending doom being the most obvious to come to mind). He’ll occasionally still eat it, but not nearly as often as he did before. I don’t know why and I wasn’t going to find any answers.

And maybe that’s the answer and the lesson I needed to learn; it’s okay not to know. Sometimes, dogs are just going to be dogs. As long as we keep up with his nutrition, exercise and routine visits to the vet, and he’s happy, I guess I can live with not knowing everything about him. And hey, at least I don’t have to cut the grass as often.

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