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What are Eating Leaves?

Dogs love to eat things that they really are not supposed to, from your child’s homework to grass, dirt and leaves. It is actually very common to see your dog munching on grass or leaves and they do so for many different reasons. Eating leaves can be a completely natural thing for your dog but it can have some negative side effects such as vomiting. 

  • Boredom
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Intestinal parasites 

If you notice your dog is consistently eating leaves, assess the situation and see if your dog is simply bored or if there is an underlying cause of their munching on leaves. If it is boredom, you may want to change out their toys and also consider some interactive toys that make them work and think.

Why Eating Leaves Occurs in Dogs

Boredom

When a dog is bored, they look for things to occupy their time. This could be in the form of eating leaves or digging holes, anything to occupy their time. To keep your dog from experiencing boredom switch out their toys weekly so they always have “new” to play with. Look for toys that are interactive and will keep them thinking and trying to figure out the puzzles. 

Nutritional Deficiency

Commercial dog foods range in quality of ingredients. Most commercial dog foods will also contain fillers that have no nutritional value. If your dog is not getting enough nutrients from their food, they will look for other sources to fulfill that need. By eating leaves, they could be signaling that they are not getting enough fiber or other important nutrients. Speak with your veterinarian about which dog food would best meet your dog’s nutritional needs. 

Nausea

Dogs will munch on grass and leaves as a way to alleviate nausea. Many times you will see your dog chomping on leaves and grass and them vomiting. They will eat the leaves and grass to induce vomiting and hopefully help their nausea. Recurring nausea could be a symptom of something serious and should be checked out by your veterinarian. 

Gas

Gas is a sign of gastrointestinal upset and if your dog is feeling bloated or gassy they will try to alleviate the uncomfortable sensations they are experiencing. They will do so by eating leaves or grasses and making themselves vomit or have a bowel movement. Gas can occur from a change in their diet. Treats or food can give your dog gas and bloating and cause them to feel uncomfortable and lethargic. Excessive gas can cause your dog to be miserable and it is a good idea to see your veterinarian quickly for treatment. 

Intestinal Parasites

It is believed that your dog will eat leaves as a way to help eliminate intestinal parasites. Dogs that are suffering from an infestation of intestinal parasites will in general not feel well. They will eat leaves as a way to alleviate any stomach upset and to try and flush the intestinal parasites from the intestinal tract. If you notice worms in your dog’s stool or vomit, you will need to seek medical attention immediately.

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What to do if your Dog is Eating Leaves

Dogs that are experiencing boredom and are eating leaves because they have nothing better to do are not happy dogs. You will need to ease their boredom by playing with them more and giving them more exercise. Fetch is a great way to get your dog moving and give them that one on one attention that they need. Rotate their toys each week so they do not become bored with the same old toys. Look for interactive toys that will challenge their brain and make them think. 

Speak with your veterinarian about the nutritional needs of your dog. Each dog is different and their nutritional needs will vary. If your dog is lacking in nutrients or just simply not getting enough to eat, you may want to change your dog’s diet. Look for a food that has high quality ingredients without fillers or with minimal fillers. 

Excessive gas or nausea can be cause for concern and your veterinarian will want to do a physical examination as well as run routine tests to figure out what is causing the problem. Routine tests will usually include complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam and biochemistry panel. 

Intestinal parasite infestations can be diagnosed usually through a fecal exam. Once your veterinarian has determined which intestinal parasite has invaded your dog’s body, they can set up treatments. Be sure to do a follow-up visit about two weeks after the final treatment to ensure that all the intestinal parasites have been eradicated.

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Prevention of Eating Leaves

It is easy for your dog to become bored if they are left to their own devices, especially if your dog is a higher energy dog. Provide plenty of exercise and keep them active. Keep changing their toys so they do not become bored with the same old toys. Spend extra time with your dog, this can be playing a game like fetch or working on their training. Stay upbeat and happy during your time with your dog.

Regular veterinary visits will keep your dog healthy and free of intestinal parasites if a fecal exam is being conducted at each appointment. Feed a high quality commercial dog food and do not give out too many extra treats that can cause stomach upset or gas.

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Cost of Eating Leaves

Depending on the exact cause of why your dog is eating leaves, you could spend between $300 to $2000 for testing and treatments. Intestinal parasites and flatulence for example, may initially cost between $300 and $400 dollars, although a serious infestation of worms that may need to be removed by endoscopy could cost much more to treat. Boredom can be alleviated by spending money on quality toys that will keep your dog active. It is at your discretion to decide how much you are willing to spend to keep your dog from becoming bored.

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Eating Leaves Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Fitz

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Cairn Terrier

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15 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Eating Leaves

My 15 year old Cairn Terrier has been eating leaves all day. We are currently camping. He has plenty of toys and food. And our other dog gets along with him just fine. He just got some wet food, he ate it, and is still trying to eat the leaves. We are just worried about the old man. Any advice?

Aug. 20, 2018

Fitz's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

He probably likes how the leaves taste, but you're right, those aren't good for him. If you can keep him away from the leaves, that might be the only way to keep him from eating them, since I don't think you can clean them all up if you're camping.

Aug. 20, 2018

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Sadie

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Bull Terrier

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Diarrhea
Diarrhea Vomiting

I have a 6 month old bull terrier puppy. She has been eating leaves since we got her. The last few weeks at least once a week she gets diarrhea and vomits. Could this be from eating leaves? We live on 3 acres with trees. I’ve tried numerous times to make her stop. It’s annon going battle.

April 14, 2018

Sadie's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Plant material on the ground can be full of bacteria as well as any toxins from the leaves themselves which may cause gastrointestinal upset leading to vomiting, diarrhoea among other issues. If Sadie continues to eat leaves off the ground you should continue training her and look through the two training guides from our site linked below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/training/not-to-eat-off-the-ground https://wagwalking.com/training/not-eat-grass

April 15, 2018

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Simba

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Boxer

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5 Years

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Eating Leaves And Vomit

My dog simba 5 yrs old is recently eating leaves and then throwing up. This he does in some 4-5 days and this is the third time. Also when he vomits there is some yellow fluid and small amount blood in it . Can you please advise? Thanks in advance. Also his health is all good, eating and excretion are all normal.

Feb. 15, 2018

Simba's Owner

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There are a few causes for a dog to eat leaves which include boredom, nutritional deficiency parasites or there is something Simba finds appealing about eating leaves; you should try to stop this behaviour and punish as required. You should also ensure that Simba is fed a high quality, breed, age and size appropriate diet. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 15, 2018

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Sandy

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Labrador Retriever

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7 Years

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Serious severity

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Eating Leaves Not Pooping,
Eating Leaves Not Pooping

My dog Sandy(Labrador) has been eating grass and leaves offlate and on occasions and not excreating for about a day. Hes currently on doxycycline as he's getting over Ehrilicia Canis. Is this normal as I normally give him gelucil and his condition improves or shall I be concerned

Feb. 14, 2018

Sandy's Owner


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0 Recommendations

It is possible that Sandy is a bit blocked up due to eating leaves and other garden debris, but if the lack of defecation continues you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination as there may be an obstruction. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 14, 2018

My bill terrier puppy is 6 months old and has been eating leaves. Can that cause diarrhea and vomiting

April 13, 2018

Wendy H.

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tina

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Min Pin

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Has Symptoms

None

In 2yrs that I've had my min pin, she ate grass and a leaf once and threw it up days later. She just recently did it again but hasn't threw it up yet. can a dog digest grass and leaves?

Dec. 3, 2017

tina's Owner


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0 Recommendations

There is some debate regarding whether eating grass is normal behaviour or not, most dogs will not eat grass at all whilst others may do so when they have a stomach upset; it is suspected that dogs will eat grass to induce vomiting but this only occurs 25% of the time. Keep and eye on Tina, also remember that some leaves can be poisonous from some trees. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 3, 2017

Reads like a general response to many questions. Didn't at all answer my question. What a waste of a web site and peoples time....

Dec. 3, 2017

tina's Owner

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Hades

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Rhodesian Ridgeback

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Eating Leaves

My dog doesn't eat leaves alot, but eats grass when we go for walks. He likes to bask in it, rub himself in it and dig it up. He sometimes does and sometimes doesn't eat grass. He never vomits it out though. We have an avocado tree, and last year the leaves from it fell off, lo and behold I find leaves and food in a pile of vomit. After we cleaned up the leaves in his area, he was fine. Today it was raining and leaves ended up on the ground, and he's throwing up once more. Am I safe to assume it's the leaves and not his health? He seems hungry soon after puking his gut out. And isn't showing any signs of lethargic-ism .

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