We’ve all seen our German Shepherds eating on some grass at one time or another. The last thing that we think of German Shepherds as being are grazing animals, so what’s up with this behavior?
Why do German Shepherds eat grass?
German Shepherds eat grass for a few different reasons:
- They like the taste and texture of grass.
- They are bored.
- They have a nutrient or fiber deficiency.
- They have a sore or upset stomach.
Let’s now take a further look into these reasons. This will allow you to understand just what is going through your German Shepherd’s mind when he or she is engaging in this unusual seeming behavior.
German Shepherds Eat Grass Because They Like The Taste And Texture
While there is no scientific proof of this reason, most experts agree that German Shepherds may, in part, eat grass simply due to its taste and texture.
Have you ever chewed on something because the texture was oddly satisfying?
Some people chew straw straws or toothpicks habitually. Other people mangle wooden ice cream sticks as a bonus treat when the ice cream is finished.
We do this for the mouth feel, as there is no nutrition in these objects.
Similarly, to a German Shepherd, grass may feel pleasing in the mouth. Or maybe they like the feeling of ripping thick blades of grass from the ground.
Alternatively, they might like the taste of dewy, tender, and freshly sprouted spring grass (it can look good enough to eat sometimes). As mentioned, we cannot be sure of the exact reason for grass-eating in German Shepherds.
While grass-eating is not likely to become an obsession like tail-chasing, it can become a habit, and your German Shepherd may graze whenever they happen to be near a patch of grass.
German Shepherds Eat Grass Because They Are Bored
Veterinarians and other canine professionals have suggested that grass eating in dogs is a form of pica.
Pica is a medical condition with which humans can also suffer. It is characterized by the consumption of non-nutritive substances, and it can develop in response to boredom.
When humans are bored, we can do some really random things – ripping up a straw wrapper while waiting for your food at a restaurant, chewing your nails, etc.
If you suspect your German Shepherd is eating grass from a lack of mental stimulation, one solution is to try and increase the amount of exercise that your dog is getting.
Exercise in dogs, just as in humans, is good for their state of mind. Just like a person, consistent exercise will improve mood and relieve boredom.
Another great way to relieve a bored German Shepherd is with an interactive puzzle toy. German Shepherds are prone to boredom more so than most other breeds simply due to their high intelligence.
Take a look at the Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel. We find that this is one of the most popular toys ordered by German Shepherd owners, and for good reason. See for yourself!
German Shepherds Eat Grass Because They Have A Nutrient Or Fiber-Deficient Diet
Typically, pica is described as eating non-nutritive substances. In German Shepherds, it may indicate a dietary deficiency.
Despite their classification into the taxonomic order of Carnivora, domestic dogs are actually omnivores, not carnivores.
Now, grass is not very nutritious; that is why ruminants like sheep have to graze all day, every day, to meet their caloric intake requirements.
However, consumption of grass is a good sign of what could be missing from your German Shepherd’s diet.
If they are munching down on your lawn, they are unlikely to be missing protein.
No, what they are probably missing is some of the vitamins and minerals, which can be provided more successfully by vegetables, and fiber.
You can try switching to a good-quality dog food that has a higher fiber content, or you can add some vegetables to your German Shepherd’s diet.
Carrots, celery, cucumber, green beans, and zucchini chopped into bite-sized pieces can make healthy and crunchy alternatives to treats and training rewards.
They will also provide your German Shepherd with fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
For a complete list and in-depth look at all of the vegetables that German Shepherds can eat, along with the ones that should be avoided, be sure to read the comprehensive article that we’ve written for you linked below:
There is also the theory that eating grass harkens back to a dog’s ancestry when dogs hunted and ate plant-eating animals.
Today’s canine predecessors, wild dogs, would eat most parts of these animals, including their stomachs, which contained grass and other plant matter.
It is theorized that the innate desire to eat grass developed from this behavior in early canines.
German Shepherds Eat Grass Because They Have An Upset Or Painful Stomach
Of all of the reasons that a dog eats grass, the most common one is associated with self-treatment of stomach disorders.
A person who sees their German Shepherd grazing might rightfully assume their dog has a sore tummy or is feeling nauseous.
You may find that your German Shepherd will eat large quantities of grass in a shorts space of time, forgoing extensive chewing.
The reason for this, when your dog has an upset stomach, is that large mouthfuls of un-masticated grass irritate the lining of the stomach and trigger emesis (vomiting).
Just as in humans, vomiting has the effect of providing your German Shepherd with a measure of relief.
This may explain why you often see grass in your German Shepherd’s spitty vomits (the ones that come after they have brought up their food).
If your German Shepherd is frantically scratching at the door to go out, and once outside, they head straight for the grass and start ripping up great clumps to eat, this is a positive indication that they are not feeling well, and they are trying to purge the contents of their stomach.
While this behavior seems like it requires a fair amount of reasoning to pull off, it is likely more instinct and learned behavior that triggers it, as opposed to logic.
While eating grass is natural, it is important that you attention to your dog’s grass eating habits.
If instead of just eating a little grass, your German Shepherd is off her food, showing signs of pain (looking and whimpering at its side, pacing, panting, etc.), then take them to the veterinarian for a checkup.
When Should I Be Worried About My German Shepherd Eating Grass?
Is your dog grazing every now and then, or is she eating grass on a daily basis?
Every now and then is unlikely to be a problem; every day can indicate boredom, stomach issues, or dietary insufficiency.
Is your German Shepherd vomiting after consuming the grass, or are they displaying other signs of physical distress?
If so, grass-eating can indicate a medical issue, and you should not hesitate to reach out to your vet or even schedule an appointment.
You should not let your German Shepherd eat grass just anywhere either. Intestinal parasites are excreted from infested animals in feces.
The feces then sits on the grass, and your German Shepherd may pick up parasites by eating grass in, say, the dog park, where lots of different dogs poop.
Other areas to pay attention to are roadsides. Eating grass on the side of the road will expose your German Shepherd to petrochemicals and other exhaust-borne substances.
Also be aware of any areas that may have been treated with pesticides or herbicides, which can be toxic for your German Shepherd.
Watching your German Shepherd eat grass seems like it would be a clear indication that something is desperately wrong. After all, dogs are meat-eaters, right?
Wrong! German Shepherds, like all other domesticated dogs, are omnivores, so eating greens is not abnormal.
Your German Shepherd may be eating grass because they like the taste and texture, or they may just be bored.
Another reason is that your German Shepherd’s diet may be lacking in a particular nutrient or fiber content.
Alternatively, your German Shepherd may have a stomach ache or other digestive issues.
Regardless of the reason for your German Shepherd eating grass, it is important that you keep a close on on this behavior at all times.
Be sure that grass consumption is not done on grass that may be contaminated by parasites or chemicals,
Most importantly, if you notice your German Shepherd eating grass as a frequent behavior, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, then you should not hesitate to out to your veterinarian right away.