Why do dogs eat grass?

Sorry I’ve been AWOL these past several days. Apart from coming down with the summer cold from hell, I’ve been pondering a lot lately. Often times I find myself asking questions and the one that seems to come up more and more lately is “why do dogs eat grass?” I know, you’re thinking, poor Sam…his dog mommy is totally whacked. But seriously, haven’t you ever wondered why dogs eat grass?

In Sam’s case, there could be a couple of possibilities: (1) it’s the time of year where tender young grass shoots are just too enticing; or (2) he was a goat in a former life (hey, it COULD be true).  Now that spring has sprung and the official start of summer is just days away, he goes on the hunt for the perfect blade upon which to snack.  It has to be the absolute perfect kind of blade of grass though, a rare vintage if you will, otherwise it’s only good for being pee’d on.

This grass eating seems especially bizarre and counter-intuitive since invariably, he will eat the grass and then throw it up a few minutes later. Seems like a pointless exercise to me.  I mean dogs can’t be bulimic, can they?

Some people think grass eating is to aid with a dog’s digestion, others say the dog is seeking out otherwise missing nutrients from his diet.  But like the questioning I used to do in catechism classes, some things just don’t make sense to me.  There would be some deep, hard-to-fathom concept that I just couldn’t wrap my head around (the Holy Ghost–WTH?!).  I’d press for an answer that would make sense and after usually going round and round, the nun would become so exasperated with all my questions, she’d say something like “You just have to accept it on faith!!”  That sounded a lot like code for “I have no freaking idea.” From what I’ve found looking up the topic, everyone else seems to have the same conclusion.

Can’t you just imagine my little brain humming along trying to make some sort of logical sense of this?  Sam is a bit of a grazer (which seems to kind of support the whole ‘goat in a previous life’ notion, but I digress).  He’ll casually pick at his kibble until it is finally gone.  Some dogs wolf down their food like it’s going to run away if they don’t.  Not Sam, oh no.  And when I say he’s a grazer, I mean he s-l-o-w-l-y eats his food, but he also slowly grazes on grass (given half a chance).  Like a lot…to the point of driving me crazy because no sooner has he eaten a mouthful of grass, he’ll get maybe 25 ft. or so away and…barf.  A nice, tiny little green-haystack usually in front of somebody’s sidewalk going up toward their porch.  Uh, ex-cuse me–that doesn’t seem like appropriate neighborhood etiquette, does it?  It’s all horrifyingly embarrassing.  Yikes, did he really eat that much grass?

I don’t know, maybe Sister Sullivan had it right and I just need to accept it on the basis of faith.  Accept that the dog knows what he’s doing.  Nothing more, no deeper meaning, just faith that everything is going to be ok.

Then again, as I recall she didn’t know what the hell was going on most of the time either.

Does your dog eat grass?  What do you think causes it?  Do you think Sam could be bulimic?

11 thoughts on “Why do dogs eat grass?

  1. Anna

    Great post! I’ve always wondered about that too. Now that you mention it, my two seem to eat grass as meal time approaches, so maybe it is just plain hunger in their case? (Yeah, I only wish they were grazers like Sam.) I let them have a little if they insist but then I try to stop them because I don’t want to see it again later – invariably in the middle of the living room rug!

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  2. Dog Tales: A Hospice Dog Blog

    I’ve heard that dogs eat grass when their tummies ache. However, some of our therapy dogs eat it all the time…with no sign of stomach upset! That could be just an Old Wives Tale.

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    1. tailsaroundtheranch Post author

      The research I found was kind of mixed on that thought. I’ve had dogs that seem to eat grass to ease digestive issues, and others just because it was there. It’s times like this when I wish they could talk and tell me so I don’t have to wonder. 😀

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