Why do dogs eat grass? Holistic Vet Nick Thompson Explains
A question that pretty much every dog owner has probably wondered to themselves at some time or another is 'Why do dogs eat grass?' Well, the easiest answer to this is that they always have, and they always will.
However, it’s only really a problem if dogs do it to excess, to ‘graze’ like sheep, as some of my owners describe it.
Why dogs eat excessive grass is a good question to which there are few concrete answers. My observations would be that dogs who graze almost always have some digestive issues and likely discomfort; I use it as a sign that I need to fix their diet or their gut or both.
Possible Reasons Behind Why Dogs Eat Grass
The first move for most dogs, after checking the dog is otherwise well with your vet, is to find a raw diet that suits them.
This simple move can on its own settle the gut and stop the excess grass munching.
- Some dogs have intolerances to beef and chicken, so starting with a turkey-based food, for example, for four weeks might be a good plan.
- Beware of treats. If you’re trying an elimination diet like this, it’s no good feeding your dog a beautiful raw diet of a selected protein if you then give them other proteins in treats like Bonios, tripe sticks, Dentastix or rawhide chews.
- If you’re feeding turkey, use turkey chunks or turkey wings for treats, for example. Bone broths can also be amazing in healing the unhappy digestive tract.
- If you’ve tried a few different proteins, each for at least a month, with correspondingly appropriate treats and the dog is still eating grass, then you may need to look a little further.
- Talk to your vet about probiotics (the supplements that seed the gut with ‘beneficial bacteria’). I don’t like veterinary probiotics because all the licensed products are limited to one bug Enterococcus faecium E1707, the only licensed bacterium for use in the veterinary market.
- The product I use is Bio-Kult, a human probiotic containing 14 different bacterial strains. I figure that a blunderbuss is better than a narrow spectrum approach when you don’t know exactly what’s up with the bugs in the gut.
- Some dogs, I’ve found, chew grass because they want more fiber/green material in their food. It’s worth adding a good lot of blended extra leafy green veg (spinach, Cavalo Nero cabbage or spring greens for example) for a while to see if this changes things.
- Next up is pancreatic enzymes. My logic is that everyone, including our dogs, produces a certain amount of pancreatic enzymes themselves. Some loads, some just enough to give good gut function and some too little. If it’s marked, we call this Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, a disease common in GSDs.
- If your dog’s not producing quite enough enzyme, then digestion may be affected further down the gut resulting in gas, bloating, pain and gurgling, among other things, so giving the pancreas a hand to optimise food breakdown can be a game-changer.
- It’s really easy to buy good enzymes from places like Amazon. I use a product called Source Naturals Daily Essential Enzymes. I find these can really help, especially if problems come on at a certain quantity of food, but less with the reduced serving size. Dose for most dogs is one with every meal, although smaller dogs would need less per meal.
If you’ve tried all this diligently and the dog is still eating loads of grass, then they may be doing it just because they like it.
I hope this answers the question for some of you about why do dogs eat grass.
It also might be worth checking you do have a dog, not a sheep, though?
About Holistic Vet Nick Thompson
Nick Thompson qualified from Edinburgh University in 1992 with an Honours degree in Pathological Sciences and a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery.
In 1999 he established Holistic Vet Ltd, his own practice, offering homeopathy, acupuncture and nutritional consultancy for horses and small animals. The practice is based in Bath, but Nick continues to work throughout the UK, Europe, and the Channel Islands, with clients also in Zimbabwe, Malta, the U.S and Korea.
He also holds surgeries at the Hyde Park Veterinary Centre in London. He is currently on the lecturing staff at Southampton University, teaching homeopathy and acupuncture in the treatment of behavioral problems at the School of Psychology.
Nick writes regularly for Horse magazine and Dogs Today magazine. He has lectured on his specialist subjects throughout the UK and for the Faculty of Homeopathy in Portugal. He has a specialist interest in chronic disease in his chosen species, treating with homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, and natural nutrition.
If you are interested in finding out more about Nick Thompson and his Holistic Vet practice find out more on his website.