Eating Plants in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog eating plants?

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog eating plants?

What are Eating Plants?

You may notice your dog gnawing on a particular plant or a variety of plants in your yard or house. Be sure to know what plants are growing in your yard and house and research them to make sure none are toxic to your dog. If you are unsure about a plant, either remove the plant or ask your veterinarian about it.

Your dog may be eating plants for several different reasons, similar to why they like to eat grass. Certain plants may taste good, your dog may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency, they may be nauseous or gassy and looking to relieve the symptoms or they may simply be bored.  

Contact your veterinarian if you notice your dog consistently eating plants or if you notice any symptoms that might be indicative of poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors or seizures and loss of consciousness.  

Reasons why your dog is eating plants include:

  • They enjoy the taste
  • Nutritional deficiency /Pica
  • Nausea 
  • Gas / Abdominal discomfort
  • Curiosity/ Boredom

Why Eating Plants Occurs in Dogs

Taste

Some of the ornamental plants that we use in our landscaping or put in our homes are actually very tasty to our dogs. When you are deciding on your landscaping and houseplants, be sure to research each plant carefully to ensure that they are not toxic to your dog. 

Nutritional Deficiency

There is a wide range of commercial dog foods on the market for you to choose from and they should all be nutritionally complete. Ensure you are feeding a complete diet rather than a filler or a complementary food. Some dogs with underlying medical issues, such as IBD or EPI, may not be absorbing their food as they should. This can lead to deficiencies over time.

Nausea

Generally, dogs will chew on grass to alleviate nausea by inducing vomiting. This will help them feel better, but if you notice that they vomiting excessively you need to take them in for a check-up with your veterinarian. There may be a more serious underlying problem that needs to be diagnosed and treated. 

Gas

Gas is simply a sign of gastrointestinal upset and if your dog is feeling gassy they will try to lessen the uncomfortable sensations they are having. They will alleviate gassy feelings by eating certain plants, causing them to have a bowel movement or vomit. Be aware that certain commercial dog foods and treats can cause your dog to become bloated and full of gas. 

Boredom

Dogs that do not have stimulating interactions often will become bored and will look for things to do. They may eat plants as a way of occupying themselves. Provide your dog with plenty of interesting toys and allow them to have plenty of exercise time. Some dogs that are high energy or high intelligence would benefit greatly from interactive or puzzle toys.

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What to do if your Dog is Eating Plants

When your dog eats plants, be aware of what plants they have ingested. If you suspect that the plant is toxic to your dog seek veterinary care immediately. It is always best to know what plants are growing in your dog’s environment and remove any that are potentially poisonous. 

Dogs that are suffering from a nutritional deficiency would benefit from being fed a higher quality food or a nutritional supplement. Speak with your veterinarian about what food would be best for your dog’s nutritional needs. 

Mild nausea and gas may not set off any alarm bells, however, if the situation becomes more serious and your dog is exhibiting symptoms including excessive bloating, vomiting or pain you need to consult your veterinarian. There may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

Bored dogs do not make good pets, they can become destructive and an overall nuisance. Be sure to provide plenty of interesting toys for your dog as well as training and social interactions that are stimulating and fun for them. 

Dogs that are experiencing boredom and are eating the leaves and flowers of plants 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, food puzzles and activities that will challenge their brain and make them think.

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Prevention of Eating Plants

You can prevent your dog from eating plants by removing any plants in your yard and home that your dog has shown an interest in. Research your plants and know which ones, if any, are toxic to your dog. 

Provide plenty of opportunities for your dog to play, exercise and interact with you and/or other dogs. This will prevent your dog from becoming excessively bored. Have enough toys that can be regularly changed so your dog does not become uninterested in the same old toys. Always have an upbeat attitude during your time with your dog and provide plenty of positive reinforcement.

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Cost of Eating Plants

If your veterinarian diagnoses a medical condition that is causing your dog to eat plants, the cost of treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis and your demographic. You can spend anywhere from $300 to $2000 for diagnostic tests and treatments.

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Worried about the cost of treating your pet's symptoms?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Eating Plants Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Shih Tzu

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20weeks

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Painful Trying To Poo

Our puppy has been fine all day and eating normally but has now crying and trying to poo but no luck and seems very distressed and doesn’t want to be bothered! He has gotten into my plant in my bathroom today trying to eat the leaves not sure if this is the cause not sure what to do

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Pit Bull

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One Year

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My female Pit Bull (Her name is Simple) has been letting out a yellowish/Gold stool today. She kinda seems okey maybe a little sad and tonight she started eating flowers

July 9, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

I'm sorry that Simple is having troubles. If she continues to have diarrhea, and is lethargic, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. This may be a short term, passing problem, but if it continues, taking her in would be a good idea. They can examine her, see what might be going on, and give her any treatment that she might need. I hope that she is okay.

July 9, 2020

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