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Why Does My Golden Retriever Eat Grass?

All dogs, especially Golden Retrievers, are curious animals. Spend an afternoon with one and you’ll see how much they love to smell and taste anything in their path because for them, there’s every opportunity to explore the world.

But odds are that you’ve witnessed your dog eating grass during your walks or their play sessions. Grass isn’t particularly tasty, so you might wonder why dogs eat grass – and if grass can harm them.

The good news is that, in most cases, grass-eating isn’t a health concern. Still, you’ll still want to redirect them from forming a habit, so read on to understand why Golden Retriever dogs eat grass, what it means for their health, and how you can train them to stop.

The Real Reasons Your Golden Retriever Dog Eats Grass

There are many theories about why dogs eat grass – and one of the most popular ones is when Golden Retriever dogs feel that they have an upset stomach, they eat grass to aid in vomiting in an attempt to relieve their discomfort.

golden retriever laying down on grass

But most veterinarians debunk this myth and say that no matter the dog breed, dogs don’t have the intellectual capacity to know they’re sick. 

While your Golden Retriever dog doesn’t know that they should eat grass if they feel sick, there are other reasons they may engage in this odd behavior – so let’s look at the real reasons why Golden Retriever dogs may eat grass.

Reason #1: Aiding Digestion

You may notice that some Golden Retriever dogs eat grass after finishing a meal. If this happens to your dog, they may be trying to digest their food better.

Grass eating can help some dogs push the food through their digestive tracks and make their stomachs feel better, especially after a heavy meal. They may do this because the grass tickles their throats, inducing vomiting and relieving any stomach pain or gas trapped in their intestines.

Unfortunately, dogs can develop specific conditioning that makes them relate grass eating to less stomach pain, which may be why your Golden Retriever heads for the garden and starts munching on the grass immediately after having a meal.

The solution? Make sure to check with your veterinarian about what digestion supplements you can offer to your pup. 

Reason #2: Soothing Parasitic Infections

Another possible reason that Golden Retrievers eat grass is because of parasitic infections. 

Golden Retrievers are prone to tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms (which could even be detrimental to young dogs). A stomach illness like this can cause a lot of discomfort in your pup so they’ll try to relieve it with anything. 

Through trial and error, not conscious knowledge, your Golden Retriever will find out that eating grass will calm their stomach pain. So feeling sick can make a dog eat grass and head for your lawn.

If your Golden Retriever dog eating grass is a rare occurrence, you can dismiss it as a curiosity. But dog owners should take grass-eating seriously if it’s coupled with other symptoms, such as diarrhea, changes in appetite, frequent vomiting, sudden weight loss, or a dry or rough coat. 

The solution? These symptoms indicate a parasitic infection or some other illness which means you should take your dog to the vet immediately for identification and treatment.

Reason #3: Coping with Boredom

A dog’s behavior is conditioned through the actions that other dogs and people around them exhibit. 

Younger dogs may want you to accompany them outside or are experiencing some type of distress. So once they find out that eating the green stuff will make you join them, they’ll do it more often. 

Picture this: It’s a nice, sunny day outside and you let your Golden Retriever out into the yard to go potty and for some playtime. You quickly notice that, instead of going for his favorite toy, your Golden is eating grass. You quickly rush to their side to tell them to stop – but doing so only allows them to associate attention from you with eating grass. 

In other words, they’ll then want to ingest grass when they’re bored and want your attention.

The solution? To avoid this, make sure to create a regular exercise schedule so your cute pup feels like they’ve spent enough time with you doing an activity they love.

Reason #4: Overcoming a Nutritional Deficiency and Pica

Although they don’t know it, many Golden Retrievers eat grass because they’re on a low-fiber diet. 

Fiber helps dogs digest their meals better and have a regular bathroom schedule, and grass has plenty of the necessary nutrients. Humans need fiber in their diet for the same reason which is why we also eat greens, like vegetables and salads.

When Golden Retrievers have an unmet nutritional need, like missing fiber, it may be difficult to pass stool or digest food. They could even vomit more often because of an upset stomach. Grass helps digest the stomach contents, so that’s why some dogs seem to want to eat as much of it as possible.

Another explanation for your Golden Retriever eating grass is a nutritional deficiency called pica. If your dog has this deficiency, they’re not getting the proper nutrients from their dog food. They may not get enough vitamins, minerals, or other crucial nutrients, so they look for them in other things. 

The solution? If your dog is eating grass, dirt, wood, or feces, you should go to the vet immediately to check for pica. It’s also worth adding a diet with higher fiber content so then maybe your Golden won’t feel the need to snack on grass!

Reason #5: Hunting and Scavenging Behaviors

If you’ve sent your dog to the vet and they have no nutritional deficiency or parasitic infections, then they may just have the instinct to eat grass. 

After all, Golden Retrievers are natural hunters and scavengers, so while they’ve been heavily domesticated, they may still have some instincts similar to wild dogs. Back before dogs were fully domesticated, dogs ate grass to fulfill nutritional needs in addition to hunting and eating other animals. 

So if your Golden is exhibiting grass-eating behavior, they may just be returning to some of their ancestral behaviors when they had to hunt for food.

The solution? Redirection is key in situations like this. When your dog is eating grass, lead him to a toy or interactive game instead. 

Reason #6: They Simply Like It

You may have exhausted all other reasons your Golden is eating grass – so if you can’t pinpoint the fascination, the real reason might be that they just like the taste of grass. It’s not uncommon for dogs to be attracted to its texture and smell to the point where they might eat it as a treat. 

The solution? If that’s the case, and you notice your dog isn’t vomiting, then you can just let them enjoy the grass – but, as with most things, only a little bit at a time!

Is Eating Grass Bad for Golden Retrievers?

Vets and dog experts say that around 69% of dogs that eat grass don’t get sick or vomit afterward, which means that most dogs just digest it like any other food. 

However, keep in mind that around more than 30% of dogs vomit and become severely ill after eating grass – and a lot of this is due to grass poisoning. 

Symptoms of Grass Poisoning

Grass is a hotspot for parasites and chemicals, which means that your pup may be at risk for grass poisoning. 

Grass poisoning in Golden Retrievers and other dogs can be mild or severe, depending on the dog’s tolerance to the type of grass ingested.

If your dog has been eating grass, doesn’t have any prior illness, and you notice they aren’t behaving in their usual way, check for these symptoms:

  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal sensitivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Swelling in the throat or mouth
  • Muscle convulsions

These symptoms mean your dog is feeling sick and needs immediate attention, so if you recognize any of these signs, take them to the vet immediately to get them checked out.

How to Train Golden Retrievers to Stop Eating Grass

Luckily, Golden Retrievers are highly trainable dogs – which means that if he’s eating grass like there’s no tomorrow, there are several ways to train him to avoid eating grass, ranging from trained commands to changing his diet to include more nutrition. 

Teach the “Leave It” Command

It’s always a good idea to train your puppy – and one of the most common commands that owners teach is the “leave it” or “drop” command. 

This command tells them to drop a certain item they’ve picked up – like your purse, wallet, or shoes – instead of chewing on it. 

You can extend this command to prevent your dog from eating grass and teach them to obey when they start munching.

Feed More Nutritious Meals

Your dog’s diet should be high in protein and fiber based on age, breed, and activity level. 

Since eating grass might signify a nutritional deficiency, feed your Golden more frequently nutritious meals to get the vitamins and minerals they require to be happy and healthy, such as: 

  • Vitamins A, B12, C, D, and E
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Iron

If you’re not sure where to start with your pup’s high-fiber diet, consider looking out our guide to feeding puppies healthy meals that include a helpful feeding schedule and a breakdown of proteins, fats, carbs, and vitamins and minerals.  

Use Deterrent Spray

If your Golden Retriever doesn’t seem to pick up on the “leave it” command or the grass just makes your pup plain sick, you can use deterrent spray on the grass or on chemically-treated patches that you want him to avoid. 

The deterrent spray – which usually tastes bitter – is designed to deter your dog from the temptation to chew or eat something. Some people put deterrent spray on their shoes, for example, if their Golden pup is prone to shoe-chewing.

Play With Safe Toys

Your dog might just be bored and eating grass to get your attention, so get ahead of the problem and have more frequent play sessions with safe, dog-approved toys.

woman playing catch with golden retriever

Playing sessions outside on the grass will teach your dog that they don’t need to eat various plants to get you to play with them – meaning that this common behavior should eventually stop.

Try redirecting your pup when he begins playing with grass with an interactive toy, like a ball thrower, or play fetch with their favorite toy or frisbee.


The reason dogs eat grass could be one of many: They might have trouble digesting, be bored, or simply like the taste.

And although most dogs won’t have problems with eating grass, it’s still a nasty habit that they shouldn’t pick up – especially since lawns are popular breeding grounds for pests like tapeworms and roundworms. 

Luckily, Golden Retrievers are easy to train since they always aim to please their owners. One of the best places to start with a well-behaved pup is to get one directly from a certified breeder, like the experts at Snowy Pines.

At Snowy Pines, we have among the best health guarantee and extensive training programs in the country – meaning that no matter which puppy you choose, you’re guaranteed to get a well-mannered, friendly, and loyal companion. 

Learn more about Snowy White Pines today!

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About the Author


Tom Massey

Tom Massey has owned and operated Snowy Pines Labradors for over a decade. They have become the leaders in English Labradors in the US. He and his team serve customers all over the US and Europe. They house their "dog family" in a state of the art facility on a large farm in the Ozark Mountains. With an obsession for genetics and temperament they raise and train dogs known across the globe for health and personality. Tom serves the pet industry in many forms campaigning for ethical breeding, training, and pet ownership.


Calm Tempered, AKC Purebred, and Certified Genetics.