Can dogs eat leaves? What to do if your dog keeps eating wet leaves

Autumn is a beautiful time of year for long dog walks. But during this time, some pet owners may find themselves worrying about their dogs' eating habits. In this article, find out why your dog might be eating leaves, what to do, and how to prevent it.
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Table of Contents

4 reasons why your dog keeps eating leaves

Why is my dog eating leaves?

There are several reasons why dogs might try to eat leaves. Puppies, in particular, are naturally very inquisitive and tend to investigate by putting things in their mouths. See below for more reasons why your dog eats leaves. 

Eating leaves may be instinctual

Instinctual means a natural behaviour that they are born with. Eating the odd leaf here and there may be normal for your dog. As long as it’s not from a poisonous plant, it shouldn’t cause any harm. 

To induce vomiting

Dogs with tummy pain and nausea may eat things like grass or leaves. It’s thought to be instinctive behaviour in order to make themselves vomit. There isn’t any real evidence to prove this is actually true. Studies have shown that fewer than 25% of dogs vomit after doing this. And only 10% showed signs of illness beforehand. 


Pica is a condition in dogs where they try to eat non-food items such as rocks, plastic, and wood. It can be caused by teething, nutritional deficiencies, and other underlying medical or behavioural conditions. 

Eating leaves due to boredom

Dogs that don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation may start to eat things they shouldn’t, like leaves and grass. This is also true for dogs who are stressed or anxious. 

Will eating wet leaves make my dog sick?

Eating wet leaves might make your dog sick. It depends on how many leaves they have eaten, if the leaves come from a poisonous plant, or if they’ve been sprayed with harmful chemicals. 

  • Eating leaves from poisonous plants or trees can lead to symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, collapse, seizures, and breathing problems. 
  • Eating non-toxic leaves can still lead to problems, especially for puppies and small dogs. It can lead to obstruction and blockage of the stomach or intestine. Signs of this include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, and reduced appetite. 
  • If there is slug or snail slime on the leaves, then picking up lungworm is also a risk. Other types of worms may be present in leaves that are contaminated with stools from other animals. 
can dogs eat leaves

Should I stop my dog from eating leaves?

Yes, it’s important to discourage your dog from eating leaves. One or two may not cause any problems. But they can get ill from eating excessive amounts or if the leaves come from a poisonous plant or tree. 

How to stop your dog eating leaves

  • If your dog has unsupervised access to your garden, sweep leaves away regularly if they’re prone to eating leaves. 
  • Supervise your dog at all times on walks
  • Train them to focus on a treat or toy when out walking instead of eating leaves
  • Make sure your dog is on a complete diet that is suitable for their age and lifestyle
  • Provide adequate mental and physical stimulation. 
stop dog eating leaves

Give your dog more attention and exercise

  • Use interactive and puzzle toys
  • Spend time teaching them new tricks
  • Make sure they get plenty of sniffing time on walks
  • Go to training classes with them 
  • If you’re unable to exercise them enough, consider a dog walker or dog daycare.
  • Read more about anxiety in our stress article. 

What to do if your dog eats wet leaves

  • Remove your dog from the area where the leaves are to prevent them eating more
  • If possible, find out what type of leaves they are and whether or not they’re poisonous. 
  • Contact your vet to discuss if your dog needs to be checked over
  • Your vet might recommend contacting the animal poison line if your dog has eaten something toxic.

See a vet if your dog

  • Seems to be eating excessive quantities of leaves
  • Is not eating their normal food. And if they have any other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Eats any leaves that are poisonous

Luckily, most leaves are not toxic to dogs and won’t cause any serious problems. Especially if they only eat a few. But you see your dog eating lots of leaves, it’s always best to speak to a vet.  

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