Why Does My Puppy Eat Grass?

Puppies, especially those still teething, will chew on just about everything, from balls to toys, shoes, and much more. Of course, that can cause some problems for both your puppy and, occasionally, you, their owner. 

Chewing and eating actual food, of course, are two different things entirely. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure any plants around your home are safe for dogs and puppies. It’s also why you should always keep human food like chocolate and sweets as far away from your pup’s incredible nose (and hungry mouth) as possible.

But what about when they go outside in the grass? If you’re like me, you’ve seen your puppy eat grass occasionally and have likely asked yourself, why does my puppy eat grass?

The answer is that puppies eat grass for several different reasons. Some eat grass simply to add roughage or fiber to their diet (a sign they might not be getting enough). Some pups will eat grass if they don’t feel well so that they can vomit. If a puppy is bored, they will sometimes play with and eat grass, too.

In other words, puppies eat grass for a few different reasons, including boredom, tummy troubles, fiber issues, and just because they like it. They also do it because it’s instinctual, a habit is borne over millennia of eating whole animals that, in many cases, had eaten grass also.

Now that you know why puppies eat grass, you probably have several more questions about this interesting and mostly innocuous habit. If you do, read on. I’ve got answers to all of them, and several more, read on. 

Should I Stop My Puppy from Eating Grass?

In some cases, yes, you should stop your puppy from eating grass (even though it’s not typically harmful). One of the main reasons is that if other dogs are around, your puppy might eat grass where another dog has urinated or defecated. If they do, the chance that they will pick up intestinal parasites is very high. (It’s also, let’s be honest, pretty gross.)

If your puppy is eating grass, the most important thing to do is find out why. As we’ve seen, they eat grass for several reasons, a couple of which point to problems with either their nutrition or that they are feeling unwell. If they’re eating a lot of grass, you might need to determine why and fix the cause.

For example, a trip to the vet might be necessary if your pup is eating grass because they’re not feeling well. If they’re not getting enough fiber, you might need to change their diet somewhat. All of that being said, if your pup nibbles on some clean grass occasionally, it’s no real cause for concern. 

Are there Dangerous Kinds of Grass for Puppies?

There aren’t really any types of grass that are dangerous for puppies, per se. However, one part of many wild types of grass does pose a danger; grass awns

A grass awn is an extra attachment, if you will, that grows from the flowers of wild barley, rye, needle, and June grasses, as well as several more. Grass awns are what grasses use to spread their seeds and propagate. For this reason, they have spikes and sharp edges so that they stick to things and get moved, especially passing animals like, you guessed it, puppies.

Harmless to humans, grass awns can be very problematic for dogs and puppies. Their sharp ends can puncture a puppy’s skin, which is never good, and open them to getting an infection. They can inhale them, swallow them and get them stuck in their ears, too, all of which can be problematic.

Since puppies, like mature dogs, tend to lead with their noses, grass awns can be inhaled and get stuck in their delicate noses, also. That might not be a massive problem if you live with your puppy in New York City, but it can be in more rural areas.  

Pesticides and Herbicides Pose a Danger to Your Puppy

One other thing to keep in mind when your pup plays on grass is that many types of grass are treated with herbicides and pesticides. These, not surprisingly, are highly toxic to puppies, dogs, and, well, pretty much everything else except for the occasional bug. Whenever possible, don’t let your pup play on grass that’s been treated with any type of chemical.

How Do I Stop My Puppy from Eating Grass?

While we’ve determined that eating grass isn’t particularly harmful to puppies, many things in and on grass are, including grass awns, pesticides, and poop from other dogs. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to stop them from eating (most) grasses. Below are a few of the best ways that I’ve seen to do just that, including:

  • Stay close by whenever your puppy is outside playing in the grass so that you can stop them if they start eating it.
  • Keep your puppy occupied when outside by playing with them, including throwing a ball, a stick, or anything else they can fetch.
  • Ensure that your puppy is getting the best nutrition from high-quality puppy chow.
  • Bring treats with you when you are outside so that they have something to nibble on.

Is there a Substitute for Puppies Who Want to Eat Grass?

Here’s the thing; puppies like to eat grass occasionally, and, as I mentioned earlier, it’s in their nature. If you want to give them some grass to eat occasionally, you can always grow a small patch of grass for them that you don’t treat with chemicals and hide from other animals.

Wheatgrass is one of the healthiest types of grasses you can grow for your puppy, actually, and is relatively easy to grow. You’ll also find kits for growing grass for your puppy at most of the major pet supply stores, which makes it even easier. 

According to a study at Iowa State University, a combination of grasses like oats, rye, and wheatgrass is also effective. It will give your puppy something to nibble on when they get the urge to chew and eat grass. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re asking yourself the question, “why does my puppy eat grass?” The answer is that there are several reasons for this seemingly odd habit. First and foremost, eating grass is part of a puppy’s nature, something their ancestors have been doing for eons. 

Some puppies eat grass because they’re bored, while others do it to vomit and relieve their tummy aches. Puppies sometimes eat grass because they aren’t getting enough fiber in their diet. Lastly, puppies occasionally eat grass simply because it tastes good and satisfies their hunger.

If you have more questions about why your puppy eats a specific food and if it’s healthy for them, please see my other blogs about puppy nutrition. All of them are filled with real-world, actionable knowledge that you can use to make sure your puppy grows up to be healthy and happy.