Short answer, their ancestors are cows.
Nah, only joking. But it’s a fair question – I’m sure you’ve questioned why, when taking your puppy for a walk, they seem to enjoy a good chew at a patch of grass.
You’re not the only one with this question. Puppies and dogs eating grass is a common thing to see, so we thought we’d help you out and give you the lowdown on why do puppies eat grass in this article. We’ll be covering:
- Can puppies eat grass?
- Why do puppies eat grass?
- How to stop your puppy from eating grass.
We love that you’re here reading our article, but if you’re looking for advice in real-time, having a puppy trainer ‘on-call’ to answer your questions might be something you’re interested in. Download the Zigzag app and talk to one of our fully qualified puppy training coaches; they’ll be happy to help you at all times with all your puppy related woes. No question is too silly, we promise.
Yes, but also no.
While the act of eating regular garden grass, in moderation, isn’t bad for your puppy’s digestion. In fact, in our reasons why puppies eat grass section below, you’ll see that increasing fibre and roughage is often a good thing for puppies and dogs. However, it’s not just the grass that they’re eating, is it?
Pesticides and herbicides
Yep, grass and plants are regularly sprayed with pesticides or herbicides or contain runoff from treating other areas of people’s gardens with weed killers. Local councils and land management companies may also use strong weed killers to try and kill plants such as the invasive Japanese knotweed. As you can imagine, these products are not going to be healthy for your puppy to ingest.
Internal Parasites – fleas and worms
Animal faeces deposited on grass is often chock full of worm and flea eggs. Your puppy, perhaps unwittingly or because it might even attract them, eats another dog’s poop and ingests these parasites, which then hatch inside of them.
It’s gross. You don’t want to be anywhere near that.
Potentially poisonous plants
You only have to look at the other things dogs eat (hello, toxic chocolate and poo!) to realise that they certainly don’t consult a poisonous plants handbook before ingesting whatever they damn well, please.
But if you’re interested in reading something out to them that might point them in the right direction, you may want to take a look at our puppy nutrition guide.
Just as a side note, if your puppy suddenly starts to eat grass or other non-edible items, then it’s worth contacting your vet and ruling out Pica. Pica is generally behaviourally based, but reach out to your Vet in the first instance. They can then rule out anything medical and refer you to a qualified behaviourist to help you with this issue.
Why do puppies eat grass?
Puppies eat grass for all kinds of reasons. Some are more clever than others!
When thinking about why your puppy might be eating grass, have a look through this list and see if you can find anything that sounds familiar.
Grasses, and plants such as Galium aparine, commonly called Sticky Weed or Goosegrass, seem to call on your puppy’s taste buds. It tastes freshest between June and September, and all the dogs I have cared for seem to be obsessed with eating this plant. It’s not harmful and actually does have health benefits if well chewed. It’s like they can smell the healthiness.
Suppose your puppy eats a diet that doesn’t feature much fruit or vegetables. In that case, they could lack fibre and need the extra roughage that grass and plants provide to have a complete diet. Again, it’s almost like they can smell the benefits of plants from far away.
Many dogs will eat grass to induce vomiting when they’re not feeling well. Maybe we should try doing the same after a big night out at the pub.
Boredom can feature highly among dogs compulsively eating grass or who have Pica. If they have nothing else to exercise their brain with, they can eat grass as just something to stimulate them.
Suppose you are happily cruising along, being boring because you’re staring at your phone and not paying your puppy any attention. In that case, they can learn that they get you to notice them as soon as they do something like eating grass. Then guess what they’re going to do? Yes, obviously, eat more grass!
Fun Fact: It’s not just domesticated dogs and puppies that eat grass. Wild dogs and wolves enjoy eating a grassy snack as well as other plants every once in a while.
Okay, so if you’re keen on knowing how to stop your puppy from eating grass, here are some of our top tips.
- Make sure your puppy has the proper diet with enough fibre for their needs. If you think your puppy might have a nutritional deficiency, consider switching diet to one with a higher fibre content or adding more vegetables. Just be aware if you make additions to your puppy’s diet, you could be altering the nutrient profile, and it may no longer be ‘complete’.
- Also, make sure your puppy is eating enough based on their age and weight, with our in-app food calculator. It’ll make your life so much easier. Check out our puppy feeding chart.
- Entertain your puppy on walks so that they’re not bored, and aren’t tempted to go wandering on their own. Actual walking is only one of the many things you can get up to during walkies. Playing puppy parkour in the woods, puppy games, and training can help them stay on their toes. In fact, increasing play will also help your puppy listen to you more, an excellent knock-on effect of having fun!
- Teach your puppy the ‘Leave it’ cue so that they learn to leave things alone and come back to you for fantastic rewards. This is a great one to have under your wing for games like fetch .
- Don’t get tempted by only interacting with your puppy when they’re eating grass – it might lead them to think they’re doing something right. Instead, pay attention to them at other times, and reward them for walking and playing on the grass, not eating it!
- Try not to panic. As we said, some grass-eating is to be expected and actually not as bad as you may think it is sometimes. Either way, it’s probably wise to have a read up on poisonous plants to see whether your puppy is eating something dangerous.
We hope we’ve answered all your questions about why puppies eat grass and taught you some more things here and there.
Don’t forget our Zigzag puppy coaches are here to help you with any concerns you have, no matter if they’re big or small. In the Zigzag puppy training app, we also have a ton of training games, articles and more related content you’ll find interesting as you’re starting your journey with your puppy. Our guiding principles will tell you a little bit more about what we stand for; bet you’ll feel good about them too.
Speaking of eating strange things, is your puppy chewing everything in sight, maybe even including you? While you’re here, why not check out our puppy chewing article, and save those hands and skirting boards!