Of concern, a dog eating grass and vomiting is a common topic among owners asking their vets. My dog eats grass and his belly growls, is he sick? Why is he eating weed so frantically? is it normal for him to regurgitate?
Although this is most often normal, you will find that eating weed, for a dog, can also hide more serious health concerns.
My dog is eating grass and vomiting is this normal?
It is important to know that the vast majority of dogs eat grass without it being linked to a health problem. When this phenomenon remains occasional, there is often no need to worry. Most of the time, this is completely normal behavior for the dog.
The phenomenon of vomiting, or rather regurgitation is just as classic although it is often disturbing for the owner. Be careful, however, not to take this behavior lightly!
Abnormally repeated ingestion of grass accompanied by vomiting may reveal a serious disorder or pathology requiring veterinary consultation.
Why does the dog eat grass?
Several explanations are offered by specialists for why dogs eat grass. Among the various causes considered, we find:
- The ancestral instinctive behavior from the wolf
Our domestic dogs would have inherited a behavior coming from their ancestor the wolf. This animal, with an omnivorous diet, feeds on prey, including herbivores whose digestive tract contains grass, but also plants and berries. Our faithful companions would thus have instinctively preserved this natural need for grass in their diet.
- A dog’s attraction to grass
Some dogs have a particular taste for grass. In other words, they just like it!
This behavior can be observed in your animal even if its diet is suitably adapted to its physiological needs.
We then speak of food craving, that is to say an irresistible desire to eat a food. This behavior common to cats which throws themselves on catnip, is also found in humans who will instead turn to sugary foods like chocolate!
- Eating weed to induce vomiting
When the dog experiences discomfort or pain in his stomach, he may seek to induce vomiting in order to eliminate the stomach contents that are bothering him. To achieve this, he will quickly ingest a large amount of weed without taking the time to chew it well. He will however choose, if you observe him, a specific and widespread type of grass: quackgrass.
The dog that eats grass very often chooses quackgrass to make itself vomit!
It is a high fiber, indigestible, stomach irritant herbaceous plant that causes vomiting when the dog swallows it. The regurgitation thus induced allows the expulsion of the herb which then acts as a “broom” helping to lift the troublesome stomach contents. This phenomenon relieves the dog and reduces his feelings of nausea.
A disease affecting the digestive tract can upset your dog and lead to this behavior excessively. Thus, it can become abnormal during underlying pathologies such as:
- A more or less serious digestive disorder (food intolerance, foreign body, etc.)
- Metabolic disease (in the kidneys, liver, pancreas)
- An infestation by digestive parasites (irritating intestinal worms)
- Pica: behavioral eating disorder
When a dog eats grass, it can also be a behavioral problem. Pica corresponds to the ingestion of non-food substances such as earth, sand, stones, paper, plastic or any other inedible object… but also feces, i.e coprophagia.
Ingestion of grass is also a form of pica when accompanied by consumption of these non-nutritive materials. This phenomenon can then reveal a medical or behavioral disorder. Indeed, a dietary fiber deficiency, in the case of an unbalanced diet (exclusively meat-based for example) can lead a dog to eat grass.
In other cases, digestive disorders, pancreatic or metabolic disorders, can also cause pica.
If you notice this extreme behavior in your dog, it is recommended that you consult your veterinarian who will investigate the cause of the pica. Indeed, this behavior can be dangerous and lead to sometimes serious digestive complications (intestinal obstruction, perforations, etc.)
What if my dog eats too much grass?
Regular observation of your dog makes it easier to distinguish what is normal from what is not, so you will need to be responsive and consult your attending veterinarian if:
- The behavior is new
- Your dog eats grass too frequently. The “too much” occurs when the dog eats more than usual.
- The ingestion of grass is associated with vomiting and this presents an abnormal appearance (he vomits yellow, presence of blood, inedible elements…)
- The animal shows other symptoms
However, if your dog is looking better after eating grass and vomiting, you can start by monitoring him and if he does it again, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of your vet.
As the behavior is normal at the base, you can let your dog do it and not scold him BUT you must also make sure that the swallowed grass is not contaminated by toxic products and dangerous for his health (fertilizer, pesticides, etc.).
Does the grass have an anthelmintic effect?
The presence of digestive worms in the stomach or intestines can upset the dog and lead to ingestion of grass. It is commonly said that the dog is “purging itself”.
Be careful, this expression is often misinterpreted and contrary to what many owners think, the herb has no deworming action! Nothing will replace the effectiveness of a real dewormer in getting rid of digestive worms in dogs. This treatment is delivered by your veterinarian who prescribes a substance adapted to the physiology of your animal, its lifestyle and the types of parasites likely to contaminate it.
This belief is all the more misleading because the grass your dog consumes can carry microscopic (invisible to the naked eye) parasite eggs that are emitted in the stools of other animals.
Regular deworming is therefore essential in dogs in general and more particularly in “grass eaters”!
As you can see, there are many reasons why dogs eat weed and some of them require you to be vigilant.
We hope this article helps you to be able to understand this mostly normal behavior and serves as a kind of guide on when to be concerned and about your dog eating grass.