Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?
Aside from the dog with obsessive-compulsive disorder, one with disease or phobia, or one that simply enjoys an occasional light grazing, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out that a dog voraciously eats grass in order to vomit.
Experienced dog owners recognize the signs. The dog looks panicky, circles the exit and does anything it can to attract your attention. The dog owner, finding cleaning up feces or vomit unappealing, rushes to the door to let the dog out. The distressed pet runs to a patch of grass, passionately woofs down the green blades to commence the royal retching ceremony. But why grass?
Grass is highly indigestible. The long slender and sharp-edged blades of grass irritate the stomach lining. When the dog’s stomach lining is irritated, stomach muscles may begin to contract, eventually forcing unwanted contents up the esophagus and out the mouth.
This manner of content expellation is oftentimes the simplest removal method for unwanted material as the size of the esophagus is larger than the opening leading to the small intestine. Which brings us to the next question: How do we determine whether the vomiting is because of an upset stomach or worse, an intestinal obstruction?
Dogs experience upset stomachs and acid reflux just like humans do. The dog’s attempt to vomit may simply be an effort to relieve associated discomfort. However, if a dog owner witnesses the dog swallowing a foreign object, or if the dog is drooling, refusing to eat and vomiting on a regular basis, it could be an intestinal obstruction. Immediately contact your veterinarian.
While it is true that many smaller swallowed foreign objects can pass through the intestines naturally, waiting is ill-advised. A foreign object could partially block or fully block the intestinal passage, get stuck in or pierce the intestines and require the dog to have an endoscopy or emergency intestinal surgery.
In sum, dogs may eat grass for the fun of it. They may also eat grass in order to vomit. If the vomiting is severe and does not cease, your dog could have a blockage. Call your veterinarian immediately for further instruction. Your dog will thank you for it!
Bonnie Sweebe is a dog lover, dog owner, dog advocate, and rescue and service dog volunteer. She is also the owner of WelcomePup.com, an online dog gift delivery company.