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Can Dogs Eat Hay? Find Out if It Is Safe!

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

Can Dogs Eat Hay

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Being a dog owner comes with a lot of responsibility. You must provide your dog with all the necessities and love they need to be happy and healthy. You must also take on the role of guardian. This is especially true with dogs that like to get into mischief or enjoy exploring. When they are out and about, it isn’t uncommon for your dog to do or eat things you wouldn’t see as normal. It’s up to us, as pet parents, to know what’s dangerous for our dogs to eat and what isn’t.

One common thing dogs seem to be drawn to is hay. Yes, hay is typically used for farm animals, but there are dogs out there who try to munch down on it as if it were part of their normal diet. This may leave you wondering if dogs can eat hay and just how healthy it is. Unfortunately, for the dog owners out there who have pooches who like plain old hay, it isn’t a good choice for them. There is no nutritional value in hay and it can even cause your dog issues. Let’s learn a bit more about why dogs shouldn’t eat hay and why many go out of their way to try.

Divider 7Why Do Dogs Like Hay?

If your dog is a hay fan, you may be asking why your pet likes it so much. To be honest, lots of people ask that question. For dogs that enjoy hay, it isn’t unusual to see them out in the barn or field having a snack right after having a normal, healthy meal. While it’s difficult to probe your dog’s mind and discover the exact reason they crave hay, there are a few good theories out there.

Photo Credit: JumpStory

Kicking In Digestion

While we may not like talking about it, we’ve all seen dogs eat grass to cause themselves to regurgitate when something hasn’t settled right on their stomachs. It’s believed that hay may be used by dogs to do something very similar. The natural fiber in hay may help kickstart your dog’s digestion. This is especially helpful if your dog has an upset tummy or is trying to regulate their bowel movements.

Unmet Nutritional Needs

As we just mentioned, hay is a good source of fiber. When your dog tries to eat hay, it could be needing more of this in its diet. While hay isn’t a good choice for your dog, the need for better nutrition could be the reason they are drawn to it.

Photo Credit: JumpStory

The Smell

Dogs are like people in a lot of ways. They like what they like. If you have a dog that is constantly trying to eat hay the reason could be the smell. Some dogs simply enjoy the smell of hay, especially the freshly cut kind.

divider 9Why Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat Hay

Now that we’ve taken a look at why some dogs want to eat hay, now it’s time to learn why you shouldn’t allow them to do it.

Hay Doesn’t Provide Essential Nutrition

If your dog has shown a tendency for liking hay, you may feel that there is no reason to fight them on it since other animals eat hay. While hay can be nutritionally beneficial for some animals, dogs aren’t one of them. Instead, you should ensure your dog is eating high-quality dog food that is rich in the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

They Don’t Have the Teeth for It

Yes, dogs have nice, sharp teeth. Those teeth aren’t made for chewing hay though. They are made to tear and chew meat. Animals that eat hay and grass as part of their diet have flat teeth that are designed for grinding. Instead of having your dog struggle to chew hay, which can cause a choking hazard, it’s best to provide them with the types of foods their teeth are made to chew.

Photo Credit: JumpStory

Blockages and Digestive Issues

Unfortunately, there is a chance of intestinal blockages when your dog eats a lot of hay. It simply doesn’t break down the same way other foods do. This can lead to larger digestive issues that require a trip to the veterinarian to remedy. Hay can also cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, so it’s best to avoid letting your dog partake.

Mold and Allergies

Hay can contain mold, preservatives, and allergens that can be dangerous for your dog. You may find that your dog has difficulty breathing, coughs, vomits, or even loses its appetite after eating or being around hay. An allergic reaction can even be triggered that if not treated promptly could be deadly to your dog. To avoid these potential issues, don’t allow your dog to eat hay.

It Isn’t Natural

Since hay is not part of a dog’s normal diet, they simply can’t digest hay the same way cows and horses can. Animals like goats, cows, and horses have special bacteria in their intestines that break down the hay they eat. Dogs simply do not have these bacteria and cannot digest hay efficiently.

a sick dog after surgery in vet clinic
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

divider 9What to Do If Your Dog Eats Hay

While we don’t recommend allowing your dog to eat hay, a one-time occurrence may not be a huge issue. If your pooch munches a bit of hay, and you don’t see signs of distress, they should be fine. However, if your dog eats an excessive amount of hay or does it often, you could have issues. Watch for lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, and nosebleeds. If you see any of these signs in your dog, get them to the veterinarian for emergency treatment immediately.

Divider 7Final Thoughts

If you’re the owner of a dog that tries to eat strange things like hay, don’t panic. While eating hay isn’t recommended, a dog that grabs a bite before you can stop them isn’t necessarily in danger. As a responsible pet owner, it’s up to you to monitor your dog after they eat something they shouldn’t and seek medical attention if you see signs of distress. You’ll also be left with the task of keeping your curious and apparently hungry pooch from trying to snack on hay again in the future. Oh, the fun you’ll have.

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Featured Image Credit: JumpStory

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