Should I Let My Dog Eat Grass When Sick? (Does it Help & Is it OK?)

Should I Let My Dog Eat Grass When Sick

Our 12-month-old puppy is still at that stage where he will eat anything he can get his teeth into. This inevitably makes him ill, at which point he then goes to eat grass. This reminds me onto a favorite quote from dog owners, “dogs like to eat grass when they have an upset stomach”. But just how true is this, and should you let your dog eat grass when he’s sick?

Should I let my dog eat grass when sick? You should let your dog eat grass when he’s sick. This is your dog’s way of self-medicating, so it’s ok to let him do it, in moderation. But be aware, some grass can have pesticides and herbicides on, so could make your dog more unwell.

So, in short conclusion, if your dog does have an upset stomach and is sick, and the only place they’d rather be is on your lawn eating grass, let them be, providing it’s safe to do so.

However, there’s more to it as in certain circumstances, you should stop your dog from eating grass when sick. Below I will share the precautions you should take to ensure the grass is safe for your sick dog and other stomach upset-relief alternatives you could consider… you can also find out the truth about whether grass does help a dog’s upset stomach.

Grass-eating habit in sick dogs: what’s the truth?

Upset stomachs are thought by many owners to be the most common reason for dogs to eat grass. But it’s not actually that cut and dry. According to VCA animal hospitals, it’s a very small proportion of dogs who will eat grass when sick. Here’s a quote from them:

“Does a dog eat grass to vomit and soothe an ailing stomach or does he develop a stomachache and vomit because he ate grass? Since studies show that less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass, it is unlikely that they turn to the green stuff as a form of self-medication. In fact, only 10% of dogs show signs of illness prior to eating grass. Most grass-eating dogs are not sick beforehand and do not vomit afterwards.”

Does grass help a dog’s upset stomach?

Of all the vets I’ve spoken to, and looking at the experts online, the consensus I can reach is that yes, grass does help a dog’s upset stomach.

Many dogs will appear to feel better after eating grass and vomiting, so based on that you can assume grass did help the upset stomach.

There are other theories though… discussed below.

Does grass help dogs upset stomach
Dogs will often eat grass and leaves when they have an upset stomach. There’s is no scientific proof to say it will 100% help though.

So, is it ok for dogs to eat grass when sick?

Well, it’s look at it this way — it’s in a dog’s instincts to eat grass anytime they’re experiencing stomach discomforts. You can call it their sixth sense, but dogs know eating grass could end up making them vomit up whatever is making them feel ill, leaving them relieved.

So, if your dog has swallowed anything that’s making their stomach hurt (like a cigarette), grass is possibly the first thing that will come to their mind.

Although there’s no confirmed scientific evidence proving grass indeed does cure dogs’ tummy troubles, experts believe it might be true because of the countless cases of sick dogs getting well after eating grass – but this could be the chicken and the egg scenario I mentioned a moment ago!

It’s widely claimed that the tickling effect of grass blades on a sick dog’s throat makes it easier for them to throw up. I know, I know. It doesn’t sound like the most pleasant solution. But to your sick dog, grass munching is their saving grace!

Plus, grass acts as a natural laxative. Munching some grass blades can help your dog poop easily if they’re having bad constipation.

With this in mind, I would say that yes, it’s ok, and you should let your dog eat a little grass when sick. Clearly, a little grass can go a long way in clearing up your dog’s discomfort (and might save you a trip to the vet anytime your dog has some tummy issues).

But, like I started out by saying… it’s not always ok for dogs to eat grass when sick, because it could lead to an even worse upset stomach, or something more serious.

Is it ok for dogs to eat grass when sick
It is ok to let dogs eat grass when they are sick (Image via https://unsplash.com/photos/-QqaHG518UQ)

When it’s not good to let your dog eat grass

You need to immediately stop your sick dog from eating grass under these risky circumstances:

1. Dangerous chemicals on grass

If you had recently sprayed your lawn with any herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. Ingesting these chemicals will worsen your dog’s stomach problems and cause other serious health issues that weren’t previously there.

If they want to eat grass from anywhere else but your home (you can’t be sure that the grass in other places hasn’t been treated with chemicals).

I’ve previously written guidance on how long you should wait before letting your dog back onto grass where pesticide has been sprayed.

2. Poisonous plants in the grass

If your lawn has foxtail weeds (and other similar wild weeds with seed pods). The seeds from these weeds are toxic to dogs. Your dog might swallow these seeds by mistake when eating grass.

Handy Hint: If you have spider plants in your home and a dog, make sure you read this. Also be very careful if you have acorns on your lawn when the dog starts to eat grass.

3. Slugs and snails on the grass

There are snugs and snails on your lawn (they can be poisonous to dogs, here’s why). In this case, you must first supervise the area before letting your dog eat the grass. Snails and slugs like to walk on grass, and your dog could accidentally swallow one while eating.

Snails and slugs carry a dangerous parasite known as a lungworm. If your dog ingests any of these two slimy creatures, they’ll get infected with this parasite known to cause serious health complications in dogs.

What to do if your dog is very sick after eating grass

That said, you should be concerned — and even schedule an emergency visit to your vet — if you notice any of the following:

  • Your sick dog is eating a lot of grass at a go and panting excessively while at it.
  • They appear severely lethargic while munching on grass.
  • They’ve vomited excessively (and more than once) just after eating small quantities of grass.
  • They’re coughing continuously or showing signs of unusual throat irritation.
  • Very loose poop after eating grass.

Keeping your grass safe for your dog

At this point, you already know it’s natural and ok for sick dogs to eat grass for healing. It can be hard to make your dog avoid eating grass completely, that’s why you need to take a few precautions to ensure your lawn area is dog friendly.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Avoid using chemicals on your lawn.
  • Clear and properly dispose of your dog’s poop or vomit to prevent parasite transmission to your lawn.
  • Cut the long, tough, sharp-edge grasses to protect your dog from throat irritation.
  • Get rid of all grass-type weeds like the deadly foxtail on your lawn.

Alternatives to grass to ease your dog’s stomach upset

If you can’t stand your sick dog’s grass-eating behavior but still want them to feel better, you might want to try out other home remedies to soothe your dog’s stomach ache (which you don’t want to catch from them).

You can consider these useful suggestions:

1. Make use of ginger and apple cider vinegar

Ginger and vinegar are one of the most effective and readily available remedies for dogs with an upset stomach.

Crush some ginger in your dog’s drinking water or add a moderate amount of vinegar to the water and let them drink the water.

2. Plain yogurt can save the day

Sometimes, your dog’s stomach might act up because they have bad bacteria and other parasites in the tummy.

Try and give your dog unsweetened yogurt that has live cultures in it. Yogurt will replace the unhealthy bacteria in your dog’s stomach and offer relief.

3. Try out the “boring foods”

Bland foods such as cooked sweet potatoes, shredded chicken mixed with plain rice, and pumpkin puree are known to soothe stomach discomforts, ease nausea and vomiting, and reduce diarrhea in dogs.

Remember to get in touch with your vet first so they can guide you on the quantity to give your sick dog, as well as the frequency.

4. Over-the-counter medications

You can get an OTC drug that effectively treats tummy issues in dogs. Be sure to consult with your dog’s vet first before buying and administering the medicine to your dog.

If your furry friend’s condition doesn’t improve hours after trying out any of these options, then it’s best to take him to the vet for further evaluation.

Related questions

Should I let my dog eat grass for an upset stomach?

Yes, you should allow them to — but only if the grass hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals, doesn’t have snails and slugs, and isn’t filled with weeds like foxtails, as mentioned earlier.

Dogs perceive grass as the best and most convenient remedy for their tummy woes. Your dog has probably experienced the healing properties of grass on several occasions.

So, if you spot them eating grass when they have a stomach problem, there’s a high chance they’ve tried it before, and the grass gave them the relief they wanted.

Why do dogs eat grass when unwell?

Dogs eat grass to vomit easily in case they’ve eaten anything nasty that’s making their stomach hurt. In addition, grass acts more like a laxative. Dogs experiencing stomach issues caused by constipation eat grass so that they can pass stool with ease.

Can grass help dogs with upset stomach?

Yes, it can. It can make them throw up, which eventually soothes their stomach pain and takes away the nauseous feeling.

Conclusion

Picture this: Your dog is lying unwell on his favorite rug, then suddenly rushes to the door, begging you to let him go outside. As soon as you honor his wish, you spot him on your lawn, looking for the perfect grass blades to nibble on.

If you weren’t sure whether to stop him or if it’s good for dogs to eat grass when they are sick, then I hope I’ve helped you today.

The bottom line is this – our canine companions can be full of surprises when sick.

One minute they want nothing to do with you, and the next, they’re already acting like miniature cows. Many dog owners find their dog’s grass-eating behavior strange — you’re not alone. And I understand why.

I mean, grass is nowhere close to a dog’s natural diet. That’s why it baffles many to see an ill dog eating grass. No matter how much we may try to join the dots, I guess it still won’t make sense.

Yet, eating grass is a popular canine behavior, both for sick dogs and healthy ones.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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