Weed Addiction

My dog Sadie is addicted to weed.  It’s gotten so bad that we’ve had to have several interventions (which, as evidenced by the fact that there have been a few, obviously means they haven’t been entirely successful).  She doesn’t necessarily admit to having a problem, but then I guess that’s to be expected.  When one is under the fierce grip of such an insidious vice, it can often be hard to see the forest for the trees.  When I think of her addiction issues, the age-old witticism comes to mind:  Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.  No, I don’t think Sadie thinks she has a problem at all – in fact, she seems to be perfectly oblivious to our concern for her well-being.

Of course, by ‘weed’, I don’t mean marijuana, but rather the clover, nutsedge and the countless other grassy weeds that seem to sprout up everywhere around this time of year.  I’ve become resigned to it:  my dog loves to eat grass.  She is obsessed.  Won’t stop chomping away whenever we’re outside.  The local city government ought to be paying us for the free grazing service our dog provides every day on each walk through our local park.

Every off-leash walk in our neighborhood has become an opportunity to support her otherwise very healthy diet with a variety of the delicious grasses the Southeastern United States has to offer.  She really likes the tall, wispy reeds, and has lately begun to avoid the clumpy clover-like weeds.  She is now perfectly aware of our disapproval of this dietary trend, and looks at us from the corner of her beautiful brown eyes while she feasts madly, as if we hadn’t fed her in a week and a half.  As we approach her to stop her from eating, the pace of her chomping speeds up in a desperate effort to get every last scrumptious morsel of green in her gut before running off to the next patch.  All this excitement usually comes to an unseemly conclusion which usually results in me using my poop bag or two sticks to pull the inevitably stuck, grass-ridden poop from her behind while she looks around at me with a look that says “I kinda think I understand that you’re trying to help me here, but this is really awkward and no fun.”  One thing that is fairly certain in Sadie’s case is that like most dogs, the memory span relating to her cognitive reasoning is not nearly long enough for her to understand the correlation between eating grass and having to endure another manual poo extraction exercise.  So much fun.

I used to be concerned when dogs (my own or otherwise) ate grass.  How many times have we all heard that dogs only eat grass if they have an upset stomach?  That they’re only eating grass in an effort to make themselves throw up?  I’ve had to dispel the generalizations of that myth countless times with fellow dogwalkers in the park.  Inevitably, they look on sadly while my Sadie chomps away at her greenery, offering their steadfastly ominous advice about the fact that she must be unwell and casting furtive glances at me that seem to say “you obviously must not be feeding your dog a nutritious diet.”

Dogs eat grass for many reasons, only one of which is occasionally that their stomach is upset and needs emptying.  Far more often, the dog simply likes the taste of grass.  Occasionally, an incomplete diet can result in this craving, but more often than not the dog simply likes eating grass for the fun of it - just like Sadie.

So while I may feel that a good portion of our daily walk time is unnecessarily taken up with boring grass-eating, Sadie is happy and healthy, and that’s the most important thing.  I just wish I didn’t have to deal with the grass when it comes out the other end….


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87 thoughts on “Weed Addiction

  1. Cheryl

    Oh my! I feel vindicated! I have long suspected that some dogs eat grass for no other reason than their own enjoyment. My dalmatian is a little lawn mower on our walks constantly chomping away at the grass. When I first adopted her, she did have some gastic troubles which were quickly remedied with a premium dog food and a little all natual vanilla yogart but the grass eating did not stop. Then I thought it was a stress because she seemed to do it with more urgency when other dogs approached. Now I think it;s because she likes it because she does it even in the comfort of our own back yard.

  2. lissa

    hi i got my brand new puppy cause i got a dog for my birthday but she ran away my mom got me a new dog he is only a puppy but he has some problems like biting my face and toes and hands he barks alot he cant walk with his leash so i let him out without then i have to chase him in the house please help

  3. Kae

    OMG, and I thought my dog was the only one who needed a 12 Step program for his grass addiction! That's too funny! I have been thinking about getting my Bender a doggie DNA test to rule out the possibility that he has some Heifer in his background. I guess not...he just likes grass!

  4. Christine

    Wow! Thank you so much for your post! For SEVEN MONTHS I've been searching for answers to this very same problem. I have a wonderful , smart, gorgeous 9month old Boston Terrier, Buddha. He is truly the light of our lives. He is responding really well to all of the training techniques we have learned from your show IMOTD. (We enjoy it so much.) Buddha loves to be outside, but once we are out the door his ONLY objective is to eat grass. I too, was under the impression that he was "settling his stomach", and I worried constantly everytime I would take him out. I've tried everything I can think of to sway him, but he just loves it so! It does make playing and socializing outside very boring, for lack of a better word, but I am confident now that he won't be harmed by his habit.....although WE are slightly harmed when helping him with the poop extraction. 😉 Thank you again for your post!!

  5. Darek

    Victoria jesteś bardzo seksowna chętnie bym cię poznał.Chciałbym się z tobą spotkać.

    Darek z Olsztyna Polen-Pologne-Polska

  6. Sheila Orlowski

    Thank you so much for the eating grass article in your blog. Here I thought my dog was the only one that likes to eat grass and other greenery sprouting up in my backyard. I try to distract her when she finds a favorite patch, but that doesn't always work! At least now I know It's not hurting her and I'm not the cause. Sabrina is very picky when it comes to food, just like my sister Carol, who will only eat beef. She only eats when she is hungry and I never need to worry about leaving edibles out. So I guess eating grass is not worth worrying myself to death. Again, I am grateful for your words of wisdom. Keep up the good work.

  7. Debbie

    Too funny! My dog Rona does the same exact thing, and this is my life right down to the part where I have to deal with the tail end of the obsessive grass-eating. In fact, she's gotten to the point where, when she's having a problem pooping because of the long grass....she freezes and doesn't move until either my husband or I go rescue her. Gross.

  8. Jennifer

    My 5 month old boxer/retriever, Crash, is the same way. But the bigger issue is his love of eating trees. Whether it's a full grown tree, or just a stick he has found, he tries desperatly to gobble them down before I can get them away from him. I thought it was harmless until we had to make a trip to the vet because what had gone in... would not come out. Dr. had to remove a 3/4 inch, 3 pronged, pieceof stick from his rectum.
    And as Victoria had mentioned, too much time had passed for him to put the two incidents together.
    I just thank GOD it did not take major surgery, or do any internal damage.

  9. julie

    I wondered so much why my dog eats grass when I let her out. I've heard all the myths and thought, I hope she doesn't have an upset stomach this often. I am a nurse so as disgusting as this may sound, the rear end stuff doesn't bother me and I keep a close watch on her bodily functions to make sure she goes (if you know what I mean). If eating grass isn't going to hurt her, I won't be as obsessive about chasing her away from it so thank you much for the enlightenment! :o)

  10. Linda

    HI i currently have a very big problem i own a 5 year old male chihuahua and i found a 1 to 2 year old golden retriever mixed with dachshund male dog. I brought the dog home my chihuahua was always rolling his eyes at him because he is spoiled so he didn't like the other dog.One day things got out of hand when my chihuahua was playing with a puppy chow ball and the other dog went to get it from him and the chihuahua started to bark at him and the new dog bit him it was a terrible experience. Also one day my daughter has a show and i am getting her ready when we hear barking, we could not find the dogs when we finally found them the new dog had the chihuahua by the neck, my son pulled him up and the chihuahua was dangling by his mouth. The new dog really is not mean he is a very energetic and loving dog and i really don't want to get rid of him, just because my dog is spoiled,barks at him and then they fight. I was thinking about neutering them to see if the fights stop, but i don't know if it will and i honestly cannot spend the money knowing it is not going to work. I just want them to walk around the house and not fight just like it was the first few days until the first fight, they would even sleep together in the same room without any problems. I need help and any suggestions will be greatly appreciated
    thank you very much
    Linda.

  11. Kellie

    I am not a dog owner who worries about my dog rolling in grass (they wash) or eating grass (I figured he was getting something he liked OR needed), but then my dog starting eating grass at the dog park. After three cases of worms (all different kinds) we discourage him from eating grass at the dog park, but don't make a big deal about it in our neighborhood. I do appreciate hearing there is no other reason I should discourage him.

  12. kay

    my mums dog a jack russel mix likes to eat grass as well for no reason other than he like the taste and now a 2 year old staffordshire bull terrier that i got 2 weeks ago as a rescue has watched him and has also started to enjoy the taste that grass has to offer i also get people telling me the dog has an upset stomach but i just tell them no he just likes the taste he has done it since he saw my sisters dog eating grass when he was a puppy and after 5 years he is yet to throw up after eating it i guess some dogs just like how it tastes and as it hasn't caused any health problems so far i don't see why i shouldn't let him indulge in his guilty pleasure lol

  13. Kay

    What a timely article. Our girl jumped up on the bed and deposited a belly full at 5:30 this morning. Thankfully it came up the way it went down, but still... Yuck. The only good news is that she is only obsessed with sweet spring blue stem, so we don,t have many more weeks to go.
    Love your writing, programs, and methods. Keep it all coming. My friends may be sick of me saying, "Victoria Stillwell said..." but I still learn new things all the time.

  14. Jodie

    LOL. My daughter and I always joke that because we named our golden Buttercup, she thinks she's a cow, and our beagle has just been copying her. So glad to hear we're not the only ones with grass-loving dogs! It did give my pre-school niece some quality time the other day, though. She's a bit afraid of being knocked over by Buttercup, but had a great time feeding the dogs grass from safely behind the fence 🙂

  15. Tossa

    my dog eats grass too but my vet told me it was because he had worms so we started him on a monthly wormer and he has slowed down to only eating it when it comes time for his wormer

  16. Downeast

    Our 6-year-old golden has the same problem and I never worried too much about it (although there's a certain stage of dandelion development that gives him a SPECTACULAR case of the runs).

    And then we had a couple of nice days in a row this spring that we spent mostly outside, and apparently Boomer spent most of those days eating grass when my back was turned. He began vomiting almost nonstop and passing foul-smelling stool that was really only water. He had to be rushed to the emergency vet despite throwing up a huge mat of grass and weeds before we left.

    Seven hundred dollars later, he is just fine, but I am not nearly as laid back about this habit as I used to be.

  17. Cince & Jill

    So that's why every time I play fetch with my yorkie Jill she will start to eat grass! She loves it. Haha. 😉

  18. Terri

    My dog Minnie loves to eat grass and my plants...especially the "forget me nots" lol. But, in our case she does get very very sick as she was diagnosed about 1 1/2 yrs ago with IBS..Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She is only 3 yrs old and has been sick so much of her life..constantly in and out of the vets and soooo much money later. Since she has been on medication and a very strick diet she has been sooo much better. She would throw up blood and have very bloody poop, it was quite scary. So eatting grass is not a good thing for her. But she absolutely loves it and it is a daily battle for us everytime she goes out to keep her from eatting it..we will be on a walk and she will be walking really nice and then all of a sudden she will turn her head and just snatch a bite of grass or a plant...lol...and she knows she shouldnt as she will look up at me with a look that says " what?,you got a problem?"
    Its good to hear others also have the same grass addiction.

  19. Jennifer

    To Linda, with the do s not getting along, I really think nuetering would help. But I'm no expert. You may want to check out the training tips blog with your problem. There's some really great advice on there.
    Jennifer

  20. Jo-Ann

    My worry about eating grass is that there could be insecticides or other chemicals on it. We are in an agricultural area. We don't spray, but the wind carries.

  21. Sandy

    I've enjoyed reading your article and I have to tell you that I have never heard of a dog not eating grass in all the years I've owned dogs. My Akita isn't an exception. Sometimes I've wondered why I even have a lawn mower! As I see it, my dogs eating grass isn't a big deal, but cleaning their behinds hasn't ever been fun. It is something that comes with the territory of owning dogs if I don't want the mess on my dogs or in my house. Another way I see it is that if people allow their cats to eat Catnip (I call this "Cat Dope" because they do seem "dopey" after eating catnip), why not allow my dogs eat grass? It isn't as if the police are going to arrest them for "an uncontrolled substance!" Haha!

    What concerns me these days are the chemicals people put onto their lawns. Needless to say, I do try to keep my dog or dogs out of other people's yards. This is something I have been vigilant ever since I owned my first dog.

  22. Erin

    You're definately braver than I, Mrs. Victoria! My German Shephard doesn't have the same taste for grass, but frogs seem to be his particular favorite, as I am constantly looking out for them on our daily walks. I really don't know that I'd be able to help Rocky (my dog) pass his poo.

  23. Amanda

    My dog Pepper, a Brittany, likes to eat grass and i also get the sympathetic glances from people. Like just seeing my dog eating grass is the eqivalent to her being in an iron lung. She is a perfectly healthy, energetic 1 1/2 year old but she likes grass. Alot. I usually don't mind her eating it but a while back she was eating some really long grass while we were by the lake and it cut her tongue. Now i just do what i can to keep her away from the long grass since there was no way to keep her from eating it completely. The cut was deep and bleed alot. Shes fine, but just a warning for those other owners out there with mowers for dogs.

  24. Amy

    My choc lab Leela eats "grass" all the time, too. It's more of a mixture of whatever the heck is growing in the yard. Sometimes she actually stops playing with her beloved ball to munch. Normally, that ball is a fixture in her mouth so there has to be a good reason for this grass eating, right?

    I was also under the assumption that she must be feeling ill to be doing this but after a few times, I realized that she must simply like it.

    And she looks so happy. SO if it's not hurting her, what the heck.

  25. Lani

    Our old Dobe/German Sheperd mix "ate" tiny flowers that grew in and around our lawn, instead of the grass. She'd carefully close her teeth around the flower and pull them off. Some she ate and some she spit out. I never was able to have the tiny daisies in my lawn the I love. She'd get them as they bloomed.

    None of her foraging for plant life seemed to hurt her. She lived to be 16, a ripe old age for a mix of two lrge dogs!

  26. Suzan

    Hi,
    First of all I have to say that your TV programme "it's me or the dog" has inspired me to do something with my little dog. We live in Poland and we watch your programme whenever we can. i tried all of your methods on my dog and they really work :). Please can you reply because I have a bizarre problem with my 1-year old dog.
    Whenever we go to swim at the lake and he comes with us, he barks and whines all the time like he's scared something's going to happen to us. When he finally can't take it, he goes in the lake and swims to us. It's a really annoying and embarrassing thing, because people keep running away from us.
    Suzan x

  27. Slovenia

    Well that is very weird for a dog to be obssesed with eating weeds I have never
    heard of such a thing! Its very unique! I hope she can recover from this habit but
    other than that the story sounds adorable and hilarious haha!

  28. Bethany

    Hahaha my little poodle mix Kalvin is the same. Loves the new shoots that come up in the spring, but really any grass will do in a pinch. It's funny when we do our off leash training execises outside, while doing a down stay he would be content to stay foever as long as he can "chew his cud" at the same time. Winter is a truely sad time for him. As a treat I'll buy him organic wheat grass to sake his hunger for greens.

  29. Anu

    My dog does the same thing. She loves to eat grass and if i'd let her eat it as much as she wants to eat, a lawnmover wouldn't be needed 😀

    I absolutely love your show and here in Finland it's been aired in different tv channels over the years and it's impossible for me to count how many times I've seen the episodes of It's me or the dog 😀 Your show has helped me training my dog and I just want to say thank you 🙂 You're my idol when it comes to working with dogs <3

  30. Rigel

    My theory on why Sadie the chocolate lab eats grass - because in a prior lifetime she was a brown cow.

    My chocolate lab is just weird and goofy.

    Love the show and bought the DVD's of the first season so that those of us in my HS who foster dogs can watch and learn.

  31. Jo

    Thanks so much for touching on this issue! My two are persistent grazers in the garden - and yes, it's reached a point where 'grazing' is the best way to describe their behaviour. As they've been doing it for years now without consequence, I've come to accept it as just one of those things - but it's lovely to know they're not alone in their obsession for the green stuff. 🙂

  32. Heidi

    Oh my goodness. I had tears in my eyes from laughing when I read the part about helping Sadie poo!! I've been in the same predicament with our puppy except that he starts running like crazy and it's really hard to help him, meanwhile he's getting it everywhere! Nice that Sadie waits patiently for you to help her. I pray that my mental health holds out while waiting for his training to take hold and his puppy craziness is to be over!!

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