Dog upset stomach eating grass. That sentence doesn’t mean much until you experience it. It’s no fun when your dog eats grass — especially when you know they shouldn’t be! Poop is never a pleasant topic, but any dog parent will tell you that poop is not something you can ignore.
Why Dogs Eat Grass
Veterinarians will tell you that they answer this question all day, every day which means lots of dogs eat grass. Eating “strange” non-food items (like grass) is technically known as pica and may be associated with a diet deficient in nutrients, vitamins, or minerals. But dogs on well-balanced, commercial diets should not be nutritionally deficient, so why do they eat grass?
The question may be simple, but the answer is not.
Is eating grass a physical need?
One common assumption is that dogs eat grass to relieve upset stomachs. Some dogs consume grass with urgency, then vomit shortly afterwards. Here is the chicken vs. egg dilemma: Does a dog eat grass to vomit and soothe an ailing stomach or does he develop a stomachache and vomit because he ate grass? Since studies show that less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass, it is unlikely that they turn to the green stuff as a form of self-medication. In fact, only 10% of dogs show signs of illness prior to eating grass. The bottom line is that the majority of grass-eating dogs are not sick beforehand and do not vomit afterwards.
“The bottom line is that the majority of grass-eating dogs are not sick
beforehand and do not vomit afterwards.”
However, there may be another digestive need filled by grazing. Dogs need roughage in their diets and grass is a good source of fiber. A lack of roughage affects the dog’s ability to digest food and pass stool, so grass may actually help their bodily functions run more smoothly.
Caution: If your turf-munching dog shows signs of stomach discomfort, he may have a medical problem such as gastric reflux, inflammatory bowel disease, or pancreatitis. See your veterinarian to rule out serious medical conditions and receive appropriate treatment.
Is eating grass a psychological need?
A dog’s day focuses on his owners’ activities, watching them leave and anxiously awaiting their return. Although most dogs enjoy being outside, some get bored when alone and need to do something to pass the time. Nibbling grass that is readily available helps fill the hours.
Dogs crave human interaction and may try to get their owners’ attention through inappropriate actions like eating grass if they feel neglected. In addition, anxious dogs eat grass as a comfort mechanism much like nervous people chew their finger nails. Whether dogs are bored, lonely, or anxious, it is often noted that the grass eating increases as owner contact time decreases.
What can owners do for these grazing dogs? For anxious dogs, a new toy or an old t-shirt with his owner’s familiar scent may provide a modicum of comfort. A food-containing puzzle toy that challenges the dog will provide mental stimulation and relieve boredom. More active dogs benefit from more frequent walks and strenuous play time. For dogs that crave socialization with other canines, doggie day care may be a good option.
Is eating grass instinct?
Your dog’s ancestors did not eat kibble packaged in sealed bags. Dogs in the wild balanced their diets by eating what they hunted—all of what they hunted including meat, bones, internal organs, and stomach contents of their prey. Eating an entire animal provided a fairly balanced diet, especially when the prey’s stomach contained grass and plants that fulfilled the dog’s need for fiber.
Dogs are not true carnivores (strictly meat eaters), but they are not exactly omnivores (meat and plant eaters) either; dogs in the wild consume anything that helps fulfill their basic dietary requirements. Examining stool samples shows that 11-47% of wolves eat grass. Modern dogs do not have to hunt for their food, but that does not mean that they have lost the natural instinct to scavenge. Some dogs, even those that love their commercial dog food, will eat grass as a reflection of their ancestry and the need to be scavengers.
For these dogs, eating grass is a behavior problem that really may not be a problem at all. You need not worry if the occasional grazing session does not make your dog sick and consistent parasite prevention is provided (intestinal parasites may also be consumed with grass). In fact, behavior modification may interfere with natural instincts and do more harm than good.
5 Signs Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach and How to Cure It
5 Signs Your Dog Has an Upset Stomach
1. Eating Grass
People have debated whether dogs eat grass when they have an upset stomach so they’ll vomit or if they just like eating grass and vomit after eating it. It may be both, depending on the dog. For whatever reason your dog may eat grass, just make sure the grass isn’t chemically treated. Eating chemically treated grass or poisonous plants will obviously cause more harm than good.
2. Excessive Salivation
When your dog is showing signs of excessive salivation, or drooling, this means the salivary glands are going into overdrive. Your dog’s body does this to protect the mouth and throat from the acidic effects of potential vomiting. Whether your dog has actually vomited or not, excessive salivation is usually a sign of an upset stomach.
3. Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are two of the most obvious signs that your dog is experiencing stomach trouble. Most of the time this is not an indication of a serious medical condition. According to Pet Central, however, there are times when vomiting and diarrhea could mean your pet is experiencing something more serious. A few things to look out for include the following:
- Inability to keep any food down
- Signs of discomfort or pain
- Complete loss of appetite
- Consistently soft stool
- Obvious weight loss or rapid weight loss
4. Excessive Gas
Some dogs tend to have more gas than others. But excessive gas can be a symptom of an upset stomach or bowel problems. If there are no other symptoms, extra gas may just be a side-effect of something your dog ate and no cause for concern. Wag lists several causes for gas in dogs that are usually harmless.
- Eating too soon right after exercise
- Eating quickly and ingesting air
- Eating milk products or spicy foods
There are some more serious conditions that may cause gas.
- Parasitic infections
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intestinal tumors
5. Gurgling Stomach
Gurgling stomach noises may just be the result of eating something new that the digestive system isn’t quite used to. Stomach gurgling is something to watch closely because it may be followed by diarrhea. It’s also a sign that your pup may be experiencing a stomach ache.
Reasons Your Dog May Get an Upset Stomach
1. Ingesting Alcohol or Caffeine
Dogs generally don’t like the taste of alcohol and normally won’t get into it. The ethanol in alcohol can be extremely dangerous if ingested by a dog. A pet that has ingested alcohol may show signs of excessive thirst or urination. The dog may become wobbly or vomit.
Caffeine can also be a problem, causing increased heart rate and hyperactivity. So keep all sources of alcohol and caffeine out of your dog’s reach. These include alcoholic beverages, medications with alcohol, coffee, soda, sports drinks and any type of candy.
2. Ingesting Human Medications
A variety of medications can be extremely harmful if ingested by dogs. According to Pet Poison Helpline, these include the following:
- Cholesterol Drugs – Crestor, Lipitor, Zocor
- Beta-blockers – Coreg, Tenormin, Toprol
- Sleep Aids – Ambien, Lunesta
- Antidepressants – Cymbalta, Lexapro, Prozac
- Pain Relievers – Advil, Aleve, Tylenol
3. Change in Diet
Changes in a dog’s eating routine can cause digestive problems. So, especially during holidays and family gatherings, make sure your dog stays away from leftover food. If you’re switching to a new dog food, make sure there is a transition period. This means you may want to slowly mix the new food into the old food to give your dog’s digestive system a chance to adjust.
Animals can experience stress in many ways that humans do. If there have been major changes in your household or if you have recently moved, this can cause stress for your pet. When dogs are feeling stressed or anxious they may exhibit symptoms such as excessive gas or diarrhea. Sometimes dogs get stressed when they’re exposed to loud noises, such as fireworks or are separated from their owners for long periods of time.
5. Intestinal Problems
There may actually be a medical problem that is causing your dog’s tummy trouble. The Merck Veterinary Manual describes both infectious and noninfectious diseases your dog may be suffering from that can cause problems in the digestive tract. Everything from obstruction due to swallowing a non-food item to gastric ulcers may cause stomach problems for your pup.
If your dog’s abdomen is distended or the dog is retching without being able to actually vomit this may be a sign of bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Tips and Remedies for Your Dog’s Upset Stomach
1. Rice and Boiled Chicken
According to the American Kennel Club, boiled chicken and rice are primary ingredients in many types of dog food. Not only will they provide good nutrition for your dog, but they can help ease an upset stomach. Make sure the chicken is boneless and there isn’t any seasoning or salt added.
Pumpkin has a high amount of fiber that can help regulate your pup’s digestive system. Pumpkin is also high in a variety of nutrients including vitamins A, C and E. You’ll want to mix one or two tablespoons of pumpkin in a smaller dog’s food. For larger dogs, add three or four tablespoons. Make sure the pumpkin is cooked, unseasoned and peeled.
3. Banana Baby Food
Yes, you read that correctly. MyPetNeedsThat.com states that bananas are good for a dog that’s sick because the potassium can help reduce problems associated with diarrhea. Since baby food is smooth and doesn’t need to be chewed it will be easy for your dog to get down.
4. Plain Yogurt
Adding one tablespoon of unsweetened, plain yogurt to your dog’s food can help ease stomach ailments and soothe inflamed intestines. Yogurt has cultures that can help the digestion process. It may also stimulate the appetite if your dog hasn’t recently been eating well.
Fasting for short amounts of time may flush out toxins and give your dog’s digestive system a rest. While fasting can be very beneficial, do not let your dog go very long without food. Contact a vet regarding how long your particular dog can safely fast. Your dog should always be given water during the fast to avoid dehydration.
If your canine’s upset stomach is caused by stress, change in diet or ingesting small amounts of non-toxic items that shouldn’t be eaten, using one or more of the above remedies should eliminate the problem. If your dog’s tummy troubles don’t seem to get better after a few days or if your dog has ingested something potentially life-threatening, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Being proactive by keeping toxic items away from your dog and closely monitoring your puppy’s behavior is the best way to maintain optimum health.
Being proactive about your pet’s health also means being ready for any emergencies. Get pet insurance today so you don’t need to worry about the vet’s bill.
Do they like grass?
Despite the numerous well thought-out explanations for why dogs eat grass, we cannot overlook the simplest explanation of all, that just like it. Dogs may simply enjoy the texture and taste of grass in their mouths. In fact, many dogs are grass connoisseurs that prefer to eat grass in the spring when it is newly emerging.
How do I stop my dog from eating grass?
Regardless of why your dog eats grass, it is not the best snack for him. While the grass itself may not be harmful, the herbicides and pesticides sprayed on it can be toxic for your dog. Also, when plucking the grass from the ground, your dog may ingest intestinal parasites such as hookworms or roundworms that contaminate the grass in fecal residue from other dogs. So, how do you stop the grazing?
“Also, when plucking the grass from the ground, your dog may ingest intestinal parasites such as hookworms or roundworms that contaminate the grass in fecal residue from other dogs.”
Dogs that respond to food treats may be trained to stop the grass eating in exchange for a better option. That means you need to bring treats along when you take your dog for a walk and accompany him on potty breaks. Any time the dog leans down to nibble grass, distract him by directing him to walk in another direction or offer a verbal correction and offer a treat when he complies.
Dogs that are driven by affection can be trained using the same method as above by simply substituting positive verbal reinforcement and petting as rewards. Dogs that respond to verbal commands may require a simple “heel” command to interrupt the grassy snack and re-direct their attention.
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Reasons why dogs eat grass
There are a number of reasons why dogs eat grass. Dogs eat grass to add fibre to their diet, to induce vomiting if they feel unwell, as a distraction from boredom, or to fill a void in their nutrition.
Grass contains dietary fibre. Some dogs eat grass to fill a void in their nutrition. ‘If you’re not feeding your dog a premium diet, they may be eating grass to source extra roughage,’ says Dr Jim Kennedy from Greencross Vets Beenleigh.
‘Roughage helps stimulate the intestinal tract and is a vital part of their diet,’ Dr Kennedy says.
‘A diet of prepared foods is often high in fibre, but not necessarily high in roughage.’
Because your dog enjoys it
Your dog may also be eating grass simply because they enjoy the taste or texture.
‘Sometimes, pups just want to eat grass,’ says Dr Kennedy.
Rest assured, eating grass usually isn’t harmful to your dog’s health. However, make sure you keep your pet away from grass that has been treated by pesticides or chemicals and never let them eat mowed grass clippings.
‘Eating grass isn’t necessarily a problem unless it’s happening all the time,’ Dr Kennedy says.
If your pet is consistently turning to grass to fill nutritional voids in their diet, Dr Kennedy recommends you ‘Take your canine pal to your local Greencross Vets. Eating grass could signify underlying problems if it becomes a habit.’
To induce vomiting
Not all dogs vomit after eating grass, but some dogs eat grass to relieve themselves of an upset stomach, says Dr Kennedy.
‘Sometimes that’s exactly what your dog wants to do – pup feels a bit sick and knows that eating grass could lead to vomiting and a better tummy,’ he says.
There’s also the chance that your dog is simply bored. If your dog is locked up in the backyard alone all day, they may be eating grass to help pass the time.