May issue

May issue
May issue

Friday, 11 May 2012

Eat your greens


Does anyone know if eating grass is a sign of anything, such as illness, or a diet lacking in something?

My six-year-old collie mix has always eaten grass, but she seems to be eating a lot more of it at the moment. I'm not sure if all the rain making everywhere very green has something to do with it, but it does seem to have become more tasty to her recently!


Isabelle White, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises…

I know exactly what you mean. My Labbies particularly like lush spring grass which is probably tasty as it is actively growing and fresh, and particularly after a heavy dew. It is often said that a dog brewing a stomach upset will eat grass to purge himself but I have not noticed that with my Labbies… if anything, they are feeling on top form! Often it does all come back up but I have never noticed subsequent illness or malaise. Alternatively, I notice grass in their motions when picking them up, or else help may be needed to remove it from the anus – speaking from experience. I would recommend using a poo bag as a glove, as you always have a poo bag with you when out on a walk but never a disposable glove. 

With my vet’s hat on, you ought to consider the possibility of an increased risk to your dog of picking up a lungworm infection with Angiostrongylus vasorum through eating grass which may have slugs and snails on it. Your vet will be able to advise on the most suitable product to use as a preventative.


  1. my lot love their grass, and some raw diet books actually mention putting grasses (such as couch grass) in the diet. Certain grasses can be nutritious I think. I have seen no adverse effects other than having "danglers" or "winnits" sticking at the other end - sorry! I notice that every spring and especially after heavy rain fall they like to graze A LOT.
    The only time it goes wrong is if they nibble a lot on an empty stomach... as they also can nibble grass to settle their tums

  2. It's just something they do - the grass is really tasty just now - as the temperature starts to warm up and the sugar rises. Hence the reason the best hay is made in June(can cause a lot of problems in herbivors, such as cows and horses on really rich pasture)
    However, I do know of a dog that managed to get grass compacted in it'sstomach through eating so much
    We have lots of dogs, all of who eat grass and never have any problems, except for the odd regurgitated pile or stringy poo!!

  3. I think it's just that it's spring, and they are fresh and lush. My lurcher and whippet have always grazed on walks, and are eating a lot of couch grass and goose grass at the moment. I believe it is good for their livers.

  4. Would be interested to know the answer as I was thinking the same thing about my 6 and 7 year old Springers this morning. They don't throw it up again but I do pick it up the next morning!

  5. On a 2009 Dog Star Daily blog post, Dr John Klingborg wrote the following, which I both like, and agree with: -
    "When I asked why dogs eat grass, the knight answered 'Because they don't have thumbs.' He went on to explain that dogs understand their world based on on how it feels in their mouth. Dogs test everything for pressure, taste, and texture. Since they can't pick things up with their paws, everything ends up in their mouth!...The knight continued, 'Let me plant this idea, when it comes to eating grass, dogs are pretty simple. If the grass smells good, has a nice texture, or tastes good, they are going to eat it. Dogs eat grass for the same reason people chew gum - it gives them something to do."

    So, if the grass is lush and tasty, dogs will chew or eat it; much the same way as we chew gum, sometimes we chew minty gum to freshen our breath, other times we chew flavoured gum just because we can.

  6. My Chocolate Lab, and all the other retrievers that I have owned, have all enjoyed eating grass, especially when covered in dew at this time of the year. Also my girl enjoys picking the winter wheat that is shooting up now as well, though because the blades are rather large I do tend to discourage that, and also because of any spraying of crops that may have taken place.

    Poo usually comes out like a necklace after eating grass, and sometimes she vomits it back up, but I think that in small amounts it is a healthy part of their diet.


  7. My Labrador regularly goes out in the garden and chews on greenery. He seems to be quite selective about which weeds he picks. A couple of years ago I bought a packet of seeds which was a blend of plants which were selected to be beneficial to dogs in providing necessary nutrients. Seeds included ryegrass, sword chicory, barley and lettuce. You could try sowing a little bed of greenery for your dog!

  8. My Stafford Tala is very selective which grass she eats. It has to be the long blades that grow at the edge of the lawn.

    I suspect it is in some way related to an upset stomach, or to preventing one as my previous Stafford Cleo one day led me up our drive, over the road to a neighbour's house. She led me through into their back garden & proceeded to go to the far end of their garden, which they left natural, just to eat grass............ & cough!
    I just followed her, no idea why she wanted to go over there (We had just edged our lawn so had no long blades)

    Dogs know more about herbs & stuff than we do it seems.