If you discover a mouthful of blades sticking out in every direction of your puppy’s mouth, you may wonder, “Why does my puppy eat grass?” You may be worried and immediately think there’s something wrong with your puppy if he chows down on some tasty Bermuda or Fescue, but don’t rush off to the emergency vet just yet as your first reaction. Familiarizing yourself with why your puppy eats grass in the first place can help you determine if it’s a cause for concern or just normal puppy behavior.
Is it normal for puppies to eat grass?
The quick answer is yes, it’s very common for puppies to chow down on grass and is mostly harmless. Veterinarians agree that puppies eating grass is normal. A 2008 study conducted at UC Davis entitled “Why Do Dogs and Cats Eat Grass?” found 79% of participants stated their dog has eaten some kind of plant in their lifetime with the primary plant being grass, and 68% said their dog eats grass several times a week. Of these lawn-munching dogs, an insignificant percentage reported their dog as actually being ill if the pup vomited grass.
There is no specific reason why puppies choose to use turf as their personal salad bowl. Maybe they like the taste of grass or the sensation of ripping it out of the ground. Perhaps they are showing off for other puppies. Many puppies like to bring their owners “presents” and want to offer you the amazing gift of a mouthful of grass.
Puppies use their mouths to explore and learn more about the world around them. They’re learning which objects go in their mouths and which ones don’t. Growing puppies also experience teething cycles, so chewing grass in the yard may be a way to alleviate any puppy teething pain.
Another reason why puppies might eat grass is because it’s instinctual. Before dogs became domesticated, they relied on whatever they could find for their diet. While most of their food was meat-based, grass and other plants provide fiber as roughage to help digest food and pass stool. This lingering natural instinct may influence why puppies eat grass.
Is your puppy bored? Boredom may be a reason your puppy munches on the lawn. A bored puppy can easily get into mischief! Make sure you monitor your puppy to prevent unwanted behavior.
What to do if your puppy eats grass
Because we humans do not eat grass, we may think a puppy grazing on grass is abnormal. There’s no cause for panic! It helps to examine the situation to see what you can do to stop your puppy from eating grass.
Distract your puppy
As soon as your puppy starts chomping on grass, distract him with a game or redirect him to another activity. You can also increase the amount of exercise your puppy gets and provide more stimulation, such as a new toy, a change of scenery like visiting a dog park and meeting up for puppy playdates (of course, make sure all vaccinations are up to date and puppy is old enough to mingle).
Lead into a puppy training session. Two commands that would be good to teach when your puppy has a mouthful of grass are “drop it” and “leave it.” “Drop it” is effective when grass is already in his mouth mid-action. If your puppy is about to chomp on the lawn, “leave it” is a solid preventative command to stop him in the first place. Both will work when anything undesirable finds its way into your puppy’s mouth.
Check your puppy’s diet
A puppy may experience an upset tummy, although this is not always the primary cause for eating grass. Grass can act as a natural antacid to neutralize stomach acid. If your puppy has an empty stomach, he may be trying to restore gut balance. Your dog may be experiencing pica, a condition where humans or animals crave non-food items caused by a deficiency in vitamins, nutrients, and minerals.
Even with a well-balanced diet, puppies may still throw up after eating grass. As alarming and gross as it may be, vomiting foamy, yellow bile after your puppy eats grass is normal. If you’re not familiar with your puppy’s food formula, you can make sure your puppy has a well-balanced diet. You can choose a dog food high in protein to make sure your pup is getting high-quality macronutrients. Your vet may also recommend digestive supplements if needed. Keep your puppy on a regular feeding schedule so he doesn’t seek out things himself to fill an empty stomach.
Apply deterrent products
Several deterrent products will help stop your puppy from eating grass. Be sure to choose a non-toxic spray that makes grass taste bad to your puppy while also being safe for your landscaping. They’ll quickly learn grass is not a tasty snack!
Monitor the lawn
If you suspect or see your puppy eating grass, it’s always smart to find out if the yard has been treated recently with chemicals. Pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides can disrupt a puppy’s stomach and even be toxic, so be on the lookout for any physical or behavioral changes in your dog’s behavior.
When your puppy eats grass, he may also grab a mouthful of dirt. Some parasites live in the soil via animal feces such as roundworms, hookworms, and other parasites. Dirt in a puppy’s mouth is not usually a cause for concern, but it’s important to be aware of potential dangers your yard can yield.
When to call the vet
Even if you think it’s nothing, it’s always okay to call the vet with your concerns for peace of mind. It may not go beyond a phone conversation or message in an app, or your veterinarian could schedule an appointment to do further investigation.
Definitely call the vet if you notice the following:
Obsessive behavior around eating grass
Eating more grass than normal
Constipation, diarrhea, blood in stool, or abnormal vomit
Weight loss or decrease in normal appetite
Excessive lip licking
Romp in the Grass with a Puppy from SacBulldogs
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