The Grass Eating Dog (Part 1)

Nearly every dog eats grass sometimes, and some dogs eat it all the time. You would think that veterinarians would have a pretty good idea by now of why they do it. But they don’t, mainly because no one has figured out how to ask dogs two important questions: “Do you like the taste?” and “If it tastes so good, why do you throw it up?”

If only dog’s could talk! But if you are like many dog owners who live in a grassy area you would swear sometimes that your dog is an Angus. Dogs just lay out in the yard and graze just like a cow. Dogs explore their worlds with their noses and mouths. And there’s the grass, attractive, sweet-smelling, with an appealing texture; and it’s ever-so-accessible on the ground. Why not eat it?

Dogs May Have A Craving For Greens

Dogs are remarkably flexible in their tastes. They’ll polish off a bowl of dried dog food, then walk over to see if there’s anything good in the trash. If they’re still hungry, they’ll wander upstairs to see what’s in the cat’s box. Basically, they’ll eat, or at least sample, whatever they find in front of them.

There’s a good reason for their liberal tastes. Unlike cats, who evolved solely as hunters, dogs survived by scavenging. When they couldn’t catch live prey, which was a lot of the time, they’d eat the ancient equivalent of roadkill. They didn’t care too much if had been lying in the sun for a week or was half-buried under old leaves. It was food, and they weren’t going to pass it up. When meat wasn’t on the table, they’d root around for tender leafy stalks, or roots, or an old polished bone. They simply weren’t fussy, and dogs today haven’t gotten any fussier. They’re predisposed to like just about everything.

In addition, there’s some evidence that dogs get cravings for certain foods. It’s possible that dogs occasionally get a hankering for greens, just as people sometimes go to bed dreaming about mashed potatoes and meat loaf. It’s not as strange as it may sound. Grass was part of their ancestors’ regular diets.

Dogs are omnivores, which means they eat meat as well as plants. They don’t need grassy nutrients any more because most commercial dog foods are nutritionally complete. But dogs aren’t nutritionists. They don’t know or care that they’ve already gotten their vitamin or mineral quotients from a bowl of kibble. Their instincts tell them that grass is good, so they eat it. Besides, there’s a world of difference between satisfying the minimal nutritional requirements and having a great meal. And for many dogs, a mouthful of grass clearly tastes great. It’s like a salad – they eat some, then want more.