Dog owners often wonder if it is normal for their dog to eat grass, and associate grass eating with illness, but in most cases the dog is not unwell. Dogs likely eat grass as a digestive aid, or to source minerals that may be lacking in their diet.
Animals in the wild have always used plants, clay, and other natural sources to prevent and cure illnesses. They have evolved an innate ability to know which plants they need, and how to use them, to combat digestive problems, parasites, worms, infections and more. This practice of self-medicating is called Zoopharmacognosy, derived from the Greek “zoo” (meaning animal), “pharmaco” (remedy), and “gnosy” (knowing).
Our pets generally lack the freedom to go roam and forage for what they need, but domestication has not interfered with their knowledge of how to self-medicate. There are now practitioners who replicate the experience of foraging by offering a choice of herbs and plant extracts that would commonly be found in the animal’s natural environment, and allowing them to sniff and select the ones they need.
The next time you see your dog eating grass, you can relax knowing that you are witnessing your pet using their natural born instinct to heal themselves. Keep in mind, however, that the use of certain lawn products can be harmful to your pet if ingested.