Why Does My Dog Lick Wet Grass?

Sylvie licking wet grass in the rain!

There are probably many reasons why dogs enjoy licking grass. It could be boredom, anxiety problems, stress-related, or they’re just upset; this may seem unusual, but it’s true. 

Some dogs lick wet grass when they are unwell; that could be another possibility. Think about how most dogs enjoy being outside; they love running around and rolling in the grass. 

They simply enjoy being outside and love wide-open spaces. Some types of canine and wolves may enjoy licking wet grass more than other dogs. 

For the regular happy-go-lucky dog, this may be an instinctual or psychological behavior. 

Is it something I should worry about or stop?

For most dog owners, in most situations your dog licking wet grass isn’t a cause for concern.

Perhaps when it is outside of his normal behavior. 

Understand that there is a reason behind everything; some dogs may eat grass to relieve stomach aches. 

Although chewing on grass may be harmless. 

You should be worried if your dogs nibble on toxic house plants as well. 

You never know, here are some common plants found in gardens and symptoms as well.

  • Onion and shallots: causes drooling, nausea, irritation of the mouth, pain, effects of the respiratory system, impacts mobility, and loss of color and gums.
  • Tomato plants: to much saliva, affects the gastrointestinal system, causes deliriousness, loss of appetite, change in behavior, weakness, and fatigue. 
  • Amaryllis: excessive saliva, vomiting affects the respiratory system, causes depression and abnormal discomfort.
  • Clematis: excessive saliva, excessive bowel movement, and vomiting.
  • Begonia: irritation of the mouth, causing intense burning of the tongue, mouth, and lips, hard time swallowing food, vomiting, and drooling. 
  • Buttercup: oral blisters, tumors, loss of energy, seizure paralysis (in rare cases), drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.

There are many other forms of garden plants that can pose a potential threat to your dog. 

Something to also look out for is if your dog is regularly licking wet grass daily. 

Keep in mind; dogs can also ingest parasites or fecal matter; this can negatively affect their health, so be very cautious.

Moving from dangerous grass like plants that your dog might be licking, in the next section I will explain how licking wet grass might be dangerous for dogs in another important way. 

When might licking grass be dangerous?

One of the ways that licking grass becomes dangerous for all dogs is when it has been treated with fertilizers or pesticides.

Chemicals like pesticides are incredibly poisonous. 

And if ingested in large enough quantities can cause rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, eye irritation and even affect the respiratory system. 

If your dog is licking grass on your own (treated) lawn then make sure that you read the label on the back of the bottle. 

Most fertilisers recommend that pets are kept away from the grass for forty eight hours after it has been treated…

When might licking wet grass be a sign that something is wrong?

If you notice your dog is constantly indulging in licking wet grass, it could be that he is not getting the nutrients needed. 

A quick fix is to give your dog more organic food. 

However, when your dog continues to lick wet grass, it might be a sign that something is wrong. Especially if your dog shows signs of bowel discomfort, it could be due to other health-related factors. Dogs can suffer from various health problems such as gastric reflux disease, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowels (which can cause your dog to become dehydrated). 

Most importantly, if you notice your dog developing symptoms from licking or eating grass, it may be time to visit the vet. 

Look out for signs of diminished energy, diarrhea, and constipation.

But perhaps the reason for dogs licking wet grass has nothing to do with the grass at all.

The grass is a red herring.

Perhaps they lick the grass because they love the taste of water. 

Dogs lick grass because they like the taste of water

The taste of water, you say?!

Who likes the taste of water? It doesn’t have a taste…

Well apparently it does and a dog’s taste buds are perfectly designed to savour the many flavours of water…

Dogs have far fewer taste buds than humans- they only have about 20% the amount of taste buds that you and I have.

But dogs and cats have some taste buds that humans don’t have.

These are positioned on the tips of their tongue and it is thought that they are placed in that position so that water has a far more intense taste than it does for a person.

Intriguing, eh?

When all is said and done, dogs spend a lot of their time licking- and licking wet grass is only one of many strange licking behaviours that dogs “indulge” in.

In the next section, I will skim over some of the many other strange things that dogs have been observed to have licked…

What other (strange) wet things do dogs lick?

Dogs lick just about anything for many different reasons; it is simply in their nature.  Honestly, they probably just like licking wet things to quench their thirst.

Some other strange wet things dogs lick from time to time are toilets below water, sink water, tube water; they will lick the rain and water off the windows. Your dog might even lick  water off your legs after you  showered; he might be curious as to why you’re soaking wet. If 

You leave your cup of water out; he might drink it for you. It’s strange, but dogs show their appreciation  by licking things, or they might just be thirsty. 

Why do dogs eat grass?

There is no single way to explain why dogs eat grass. Some theories may overlap depending on the dog. However, it could be linked to several reasons:

  1. Eating grass might help some dogs relieve nausea, or they eat the grass to help throw it. It might just be their way of communicating with you.
  1. Since grass is a good source of fiber, dogs might indulge in this habit to take advantage of the nutrients and also expel parasites from their body. Think of it as a detox.
  1. A dog eating grass may help with nasal congestion. 
  1. Maybe your dog has inflammatory issues, which is why your dog is restless and excessively eating grass. 

Your dog could be hungry. 

Although rare, it could be a type of disorder for some dogs: an obsessive-compulsive disorder where a small  habit of eating grass develops into a consistent urge. 

Take your dog to the  veterinarian if it becomes a habit.

Perhaps it’s instinctive for dogs to eat grass. 

Although, in the past, the four-legged canine’s natural behavior was to hunt and salvage food, eating grass may have been another way to get an adequate amount of food and survive. 

Grass eating might have been a way to deceive other predators, so they could not detect the dog’s scent. 

While some dogs may not react well to consuming grass because their bodies can not break down grass, they lack the enzymes. 

Therefore, if the dog overeats grass, it can cause intestinal blockage.

In contrast, other dogs can eat grass with no vomiting at all and small amounts of grass is fine.  So don’t let your dog go crazy if you notice this habit. 

As an alternative, find a refreshing, healthy snack to substitute for grass. 

So having explored why dogs might eat grass, the next logical question to answer is can dogs digest grass.

And the answer might surprise you. 

Can dogs digest grass?

Most dogs can’t digest grass very well at all because their stomachs are designed to digest it. 

Grass contains massive amounts of cellulose, which is incredibly tough to digest, and so animals that primarily feed on grass have digestive systems that have evolved to do just that. 

Think cows or horses.

And by the way, grass eating animals are called Graminivores.

Which is a new label for me. 

Dogs are omnivores and have evolved to eat and digest both meat and plant material.

But because grass contains much more cellulose than most other plants and vegetables, a dog’s stomach won’t come anywhere close to digesting it.

And I know that from personal experience…

Just this morning one of my dogs, Sylvie, had me up at 3.30 am because they were feeling unwell. 

They rushed outside and starting chewing grass as if it was going out of fashion.

They continued to do this for ten minutes- whilst ignoring my calls to come back in.

Fast forward to 5am (yes, I was still up) and Sylvie vomited up a big ball of grass, which wasn’t that surprising.

What did shock me was that on our walk at about ten this morning, Sylvie pooped out a long “sausage” of undigested grass.

I wish I had the presence of mind to take a photo of it for you!

Resources 

https://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/vet-s-take-why-dogs-eat-grass/297
https://thebark.com/content/why-do-dogs-eat-grass#:~:text=Normal%20Dog%20Behavior&text=Wild%20canids%2C%20such%20as%20wolves,from%20their%20wild%20canid%20ancestors.
https://blog.homesalive.ca/dog-blog/dangerous-garden-plants-for-dogs
https://homeguides.sfgate.com/happens-dog-rubs-pesticidetreated-grass-87365.html
https://www.memphisveterinaryspecialists.com/site/blog-cordova/2020/01/29/dogs-eating-grass-why-do-they-do-it/