Why Jack Russell Terriers eat grass

Weird but very common behaviour

You might have seen your Jack Russell do this when you take him outside - as soon as he's on the garden he obsessively eats as much grass as possible.

Eating things they're not supposed to is a disorder called "pica". It's a really weird sight to behold and you might be wondering why it happens. Aren't dogs carnivores?

Well fortunately it's perfectly normal behaviour for dogs and very common. It has a few causes - some you need to worry about and some you don't. The good thing is that grass isn't harmful to dogs, unless of course there are any pesticides or chemicals in the grass.

Sometimes your Jack Russell Terrier might vomit after eating grass. This only happens about 25% of the time, but it's understandable to be worried about it.

We don't actually know exactly why dogs exhibit this behaviour but there are some strong theories.

He feels sick

Grazing is said by some to be 'nature's way' of bringing up food when the dog feels nauseous. Opponents of this idea aren't sure if dogs are smart enough to know how to do that, so it could be an built-in instinct.

The vomiting may actually be because of the grass tickling the inside of the dog's throat, which can start it off, rather than sickness or nausea. If you are still worried then a vet may set your mind (and your Jack Russell's) at ease.

Low fibre in his diet

A more likely suggestion is that your dog isn't getting enough fibre in his diet. Grass is obviously full of fibre, and if his diet is low in fibre then his digestion will suffer. The grass helps that.

A study actually showed that a Poodle ate grass and vomited every day for seven years, but when fed a diet higher in fibre, the behaviour stopped almost immediately.

I've written a full article on Jack Russell nutrition here on the website, and I still stick by this brand of dog food. Amazon has the best price for it.

It has added fibre to help your dog's digestive system. I recommend you try it. Alternatively I recommend giving your Jack Russell bran flakes or shredded wheat with his dinner for an extra boost of fibre.

With any increase in fibre in your Jack Russell's diet, make sure he gets an equivalent increase in water and hydration, especially if you see him going for the water bowl more. Fibre tablets are also a popular option, but I've personally never tried them with Poppy. Amazon stocks this brand which looks like the best value for money.

Takeaway tips

  • 'Grazing' is very common and usually nothing to worry about
  • There's a small chance it could be due to sickness or nausea
  • A more likely cause is a lack of fibre in your Jack Russell's diet. Try adding bran flakes or shredded wheat to your dog's food and see if that helps

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