Why Is My Puppy Eating Leaves? (How To STOP)

Whether your puppy is helping themselves to your herb garden more than you are, or it’s fall, and you’re raking up piles of leaves, you might be concerned if they seem to turn leaves into a full-time snack.

Puppies eat leaves for many reasons, including for fun, because of a nutritional deficiency, and because they’re hungry.

puppy eating leaves
Why is my puppy eating leaves? (How to stop?)

I’ll help you get to the bottom of the question, “Why is my puppy eating leaves?” and share solutions for stopping the problem.

Reasons Your Puppy Is Eating Leaves

In most cases, leaf-eating is a harmless activity that puppies do. But there can also be some more concerning reasons for it. Below are some of the most common reasons your puppy wants to eat leaves, starting with the least concerning ones.

It’s Fun

Puppies will be puppies, and fun is the name of the game. Leaves that blow in the wind while on the plant can be fun for puppies to chase. Your puppy might also love jumping in piles of fallen leaves in the fall, grabbing mouthfuls as they play.

white puppy eats leaves
A white puppy eats leaves at the bakyard..

It’s a Natural Tendency

Did you know that dogs are omnivores? That’s right—they have genetic wiring to crave both meat and plants. Leaves can help your dog get nutrients, and it’s common for dogs to eat grass and leaves to ease an upset stomach.

my dog's stomach is gurgling
Why is my dog’s stomach is gurgling?

They Like the Texture

You likely have a lot of toys around the house in an attempt to prevent your puppy from making your table leg their next chew toy. But leaves have a different texture than any toy you’ll give your puppy. They might feel intrigued by this, making them inclined to eat leaves.

a blue eyed puppy on the grass outdoors
A blue eyed puppy on the grass outdoors

They’re Bored

Puppies love to be on the go and have new stimulants to keep their short attention spans engaged. Therefore, if you stopped throwing a toy or rubbing their belly, they might move on to eating leaves out of boredom.

Sheepadoodle puppy lying on the grass
A Sheepadoodle puppy lying on the grass.

Puppies are also avid chewers until they’re six to 12 months old, given that they’re teething. So, they might be chewing on leaves as a trial to see if they make a suitable chewing toy.

Lacking Nutrients

Going off the omnivore comment above, your puppy might be eating leaves because they’re not getting enough nutrients from their dog food. Puppies have specific nutrient requirements that change as they age.

owner pouring dog food
The owner pouring dog food in a bowl.

For example, puppies have high protein requirements when they’re young compared to adults. Sadly, many puppy food contains lots of fillers instead of the micro and macronutrients that puppies need.

So, if you opted for the cheaper bag of puppy food and your pooch suddenly starts eating leaves, try splurging on a more expensive brand to see if that stops your puppy’s leaf-eating behavior. 

Food Quantity Issue

It’s natural to want to sneak pieces of food off your dinner plate and into your puppy’s mouth. But unfortunately, that can cause them to fill up too much on human meals, not leaving sufficient space for them to eat their puppy food.

owner feeding Dalmatian
The owner is feeding her Dalmatian dog.

The result can be your puppy turning its nose up to puppy food while its body instructs them to eat leaves to make up for the lack of nutrients.

Of course, your puppy might also be eating leaves to supplement their diet if you’re not feeding them enough food or as frequently as they need it. Be sure to read the label of your puppy food bag and check with your veterinarian to keep up with the right amount of food for your growing puppy’s size.

Health Problem

Although eating leaves can be normal behavior in puppies, it can also signify an underlying health issue. Some of the health problems that may cause your puppy to eat grass include:

  • Pica
  • Parasites
  • Upset stomach
dog eats grass at the park
A dog that eats grass infested with parasites or treated with chemicals can be harmful.

Pica is a condition where puppies eat food that isn’t truly food. While pica can result from boredom—especially in energetic creatures like puppies—it can also mean there’s a medical issue.

I encourage you to bring your puppy to the vet if anything about their behavior besides leaf-eating indicates that they might have a health problem.

Dangerous Leaves for Puppies

If you have a puppy eating leaves, it is vital to know the types of leaves they’re consuming. Certain plants have leaves with toxins that can cause your puppy to drool excessively in the best cases. 

old man with his dog in the garden
A man plants herbs with his dog.

In the worst cases, your dog may have an upset stomach, gastrointestinal bleeding, seizures, liver failure, or kidney failure.

Some of the most dangerous plant species that can harm your puppy’s health if they eat its leaves include:

  • Tomato plants
  • Japanese yews
  • Black walnut trees
  • Autumn crocuses
  • Chrysanthemums

Should your puppy vomit, have diarrhea, or display other troubling symptoms after they eat leaves, take them to the vet immediately.

A Note on Pesticides

Even if you don’t have any dangerous plants in your backyard, pesticides can do a number on your puppy’s health.

Pesticides and insecticides are harmful chemicals that can interfere with your puppy’s nervous system. Therefore, stopping your puppy from eating leaves is vital if you know the plant contains pesticides or insecticides.

flea and tick spray
Spraying a flea and tick solutions to prevent infestation in the backyard.

How To Stop Your Puppy From Eating Leaves?

If you’re concerned about your puppy eating leaves with pesticides or from toxic plants, the best solution is to get them to stop this behavior

I’ll admit it—this is easier said than done for spunky, curious puppies. But the strategies below will help you improve your chances of your puppy turning to their toys instead of your tomato plants. 

Keep Them Stimulated

If your puppy is eating leaves because they have nothing better to do, giving them a toy to play with is an excellent solution

dog plays with toy
The dog plays with his toy.

One of my tricks for keeping puppies engaged with their toys is only to let them have a couple of toys at a time. Then, every few days, I remove those toys and switch them out with another set of toys, alternating between the two sets.

Give Them More Exercise

Exercise can help tire your puppy out, reducing their interest in eating leaves. But you must be careful with how much exercise you give them; too much exercise can cause your puppy joint and bone issues when they’re an adult.

Corgi puppy running
A cute Corgi puppy running on the grass.

Change Their Diet

Purchase a new, higher-quality food for your puppy to see if the nutrient boost stops their leaf-eating behavior. Be sure to follow the instructions on the bag to ensure you’re feeding your puppy the appropriate quantity and number of times per day for their age.

royal canin dog food packs
Royal Canin dog food packs at the store display.

When in doubt, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for their nutritional advice.

Use a Fence

It may not be the most appealing solution, but if you have toxic plants in your yard, putting up a fence to keep your puppy away from them is ideal

Pomeranian climbing fence
Pomeranian puppy climbing over the fence.

Of course, the wind can carry the plant’s leaves into your dog’s side of the yard. But it still significantly reduces your puppy’s accessibility to toxic leaves.

Should You Let Your Puppy Eat Leaves?

In theory, your puppy eating leaves isn’t inherently troubling. Leaf-eating is a fun pastime for many puppies, and it’s also a natural instinct. 

As long as the leaves your puppy eats aren’t toxic and they eat them in small amounts, there’s no reason to worry about this behavior.

But if you have poisonous plants in your yard or suspect your puppy is eating leaves due to nutrient deficiency or health reasons, it’s vital to take them to the vet and use the methods I described here to stop them from eating leaves.