Is it alright for Max, your Golden Retriever, to munch on the grass in your front yard? Experts say it’s typically OK, even if your pup ends up puking.
Dr. Sarah Cazabon, a New England veterinarian who’s a preferred provider with Ask.Vet, says dogs often eat grass when they’re bored.
“It is typical for dogs and cats to have an urge to eat grass, which may be inherited from their wild ancestors. Some pets will eat grass when they are not feeling well and will then vomit it, but this is more a symptom than a cause,” Cazabon says.
Fewer than 10 percent of dogs appear to be sick before eating grass, WebMD says, and fewer than 25 percent of grass-eating dogs regularly throw up afterward.
Dr. Judy Morgan is a holistic veterinarian in New Jersey.
Grass on the Menu
Dr. Cathy Alinovi, a veterinarian in Indiana, says that for many dogs, spring grass is akin to a salad for humans — it’s fresh and tasty.
“Greens can actually make up an important part of a pet’s diet,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian in New Jersey. “Most processed kibbles are lacking in nutrition and freshness, so pets will commonly graze or forage for fresh foods by eating grass or raiding the garden.”
Morgan says most dogs won’t vomit after eating tender grasses, but many will throw up after chomping on tough, coarse grasses.
Experts do caution against letting dogs eat grass that might be contaminated. For instance, dogs shouldn’t be allowed to munch on grass that’s been treated with chemicals, Cazabon says.
Also, she warns that grass in parks and along sidewalks might contain fecal residue that can carry microscopic parasite eggs. Those eggs can be transmitted to dogs, Cazabon says, and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss.
Dog nutrition blogger Kimberly Gauthier with one of her four pooches.
Photo: Twitter/Kimberly Gauthier
Kimberly Gauthier, a dog nutrition blogger who lives near Seattle, WA, says that if one of her four pooches is eating grass obsessively, it raises a red flag that the dog may have an upset stomach.
“I’ll watch for other behavior changes over 24 hours and call the vet if the behavior continues. Better safe than sorry,” Gauthier says.
Period grass grazing won’t hurt your dog as long as he or she is healthy and getting regular parasite protection, Cazabon says.
“In my experience, the most harm that has been done is to our floors if one of our dogs vomits up a small pile of grass,” Gauthier says. “Otherwise, it passes through their digestive system.”