When I was younger, I noticed my grandfather’s dog eating grass. I didn’t understand why, so I asked him why his dog was doing that. Well, he told me that grass helped with the dog’s digestion, and I simply took his word for it.
For the longest time I held on to that knowledge. And it wasn’t until I noticed my German Shepherd eating grass that I thought of investigating further.
Here’s what I found out.
Why Do German Shepherds Eat Grass?
Turns out there are a number of reasons why German Shepherds eat grass. They’re pretty much all theories though as actual reasons are still unclear. But one theory suggests that German Shepherds do it to aid with digestion. So my grandfather was right.
Anyway, here are those reasons:
A common theory is that German Shepherds eat grass so they could vomit and relieve their upset stomachs. However, studies have found that only 10% of dogs show illness before eating grass, and less than 25% of those who eat them vomit.
So we can’t tell for sure if German Shepherds eat grass for relief as most grass-eaters aren’t even sick to begin with or don’t vomit afterwards.
To Help With Digestion
This one also relates to digestion just without vomiting. The basic premise is that German Shepherds need fiber and grass just happens to be a great source.
If you don’t know, fiber aids in bowel regularity and helps produce a healthy intestinal pH which prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria. Without it, your German Shepherd’s digestive system may not work smoothly.
In relation to needing fiber, nutritional deficiency may also lead a German Shepherd to develop an eating disorder called pica.
Pica is a health condition characterized by ingestion of strange non-food items like cloth, rocks, grass, or anything else that the dog can put in its mouth.
When German Shepherds get bored they’ll try to find ways to entertain themselves.They start barking excessively, digging, chewing on things, and sometimes eating grass.
So if you haven’t provided your German Shepherd enough physical and mental stimulation or you notice it pacing or being disinterested, you already know why it’s munching on grass.
It Likes Grass
German Shepherds are omnivores so it’s possible that your dog simply likes eating grass. Maybe it tastes or feels good to eat? I won’t know. But I won’t judge.
Is It Bad For German Shepherds To Eat Grass?
Grass itself won’t harm a German Shepherd as it isn’t toxic. However, the issue comes from the other substances a German Shepherd may ingest while munching on grass.
For example, your German Shepherd may get infected by intestinal parasites if it accidentally eats animal droppings in contaminated grass.There’s also the possibility of ingesting herbicides, pesticides, or any other chemicals which can be toxic to your dog.
Should You Stop Your German Shepherd From Eating Grass?
It depends. For the most part, eating grass is considered to be normal behavior. And if your German Shepherd’s completely healthy and on parasitic prevention, then there isn’t really any harm in it eating grass.
That said, it remains a fact that grass isn’t the best thing for your German Shepherd to eat. And if you ever believe that it’s unsafe, then by all means try to prevent it.
How To Stop Your German Shepherd From Eating Grass?
First things first, you have to identify the cause. Only after that will you be able to apply the proper means of prevention.
Feed Your German Shepherd Right
If your German Shepherd eats grass due to nutritional deficiency or digestive issues, then you’d have to improve its diet.
Some commercial dog foods may not provide enough fiber so you’d have to either choose a different brand or incorporate other sources like apples, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, wheatgerm, and ground flaxseed into your dog’s diet.
You may also consider fiber supplements, but I’d leave that discussion to you and your veterinarian.
Provide Exercise And Play
If it’s due to boredom then you’d have to entertain your German Shepherd a bit better. Are you providing it with enough exercise and play?
If not, you may want to implement an exercise routine of hourly walks daily and at least 15 minutes of play. If that’s too much time, you can also avail of services such as dog walking and daycares or you could buy your German Shepherd some toys.
If your German Shepherd likes to eat grass for its taste and texture then you’d need to train it to stop. To do so, you need to distract or redirect your dog whenever it gets ready to eat grass. If it complies, you then have to reward it with either treats or praise for it to associate not eating grass with a positive experience.
To learn more, you can check out this article on German Shepherd training.
In there you’ll find a list of basic commands you can teach your dog. And for this case I suggest you teach either the come or leave it command as they both allow you to prevent your dog from approaching grass.
And just a side note, training is simple but it isn’t easy. It might take a while for your German Shepherd to fully understand commands and stop doing unwanted behavior. So, be patient, keep your cool, and avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement.
Based on these findings and knowing that grass eating may potentially cause problems, I personally wouldn’t want my German Shepherds to eat grass. And I think the best to prevent it would be through training.
That said, if training ever does get too difficult and frustrating, know that there’s another way you can handle this issue. And that is by simply providing for your German Shepherd’s needs and keeping it healthy.
If you feed your German Shepherd right and provide it with enough physical and mental stimulation, then you’ve already eliminated 3 of the 5 possible reasons for eating grass.
Should your German Shepherd still eat grass then, just keep in mind that grass eating usually doesn’t affect healthy and properly medicated dogs. So take your German Shepherd to the vet for checkups and keep up with vaccinations and deworming treatment.