One of my family dogs likes to sneak in a few chomps of grass every now and then, and I was never sure why. More importantly, perhaps, I always wondered if it was OK. I figured that his dog instinct was telling him “grass, yum, must eat,” so it was probably all right. But just to make sure, I decided to look into it a little further.
My first question was one that I have seen debated on these pages frequently: Are dogs carnivorous or omnivorous? The Encyclopedia Britannica states that dogs are indeed omnivores, but there seems to be plenty of debate about this. (I’d love to hear your insights about this in the comments field.)
Arden Moore, author of The Dog Behavior Answer Book (Storey, 2006), also states that dogs are omnivores, and that they like a little variety on their diet and know the value of adding some greens to the menu. Hello, grass.
Moore says that while some dogs eat grass and throw up afterward, some frequently do it and don’t throw up. They may simply like the taste and feel the need to add some roughage to their meals. This pertains more to those dogs that actually chew and swallow the grass blades thoroughly.
Grass can also act as a healthful aid for dogs with upset stomachs who need to purge their systems. In that case, you might notice that they seem to almost gobble the grass without really chewing the blades. The prickly little stalks irritate their stomach linings and cause them to vomit. If this occurs only occasionally, let nature take its course. But if your dog is vomiting daily and not eating well, please consult your veterinarian. There may be an underlying medical reason behind this behavior.
Grass is fine for dogs when it is free of pesticides, lawn chemical, or other harmful substances.