Some dogs eat grass and poop.
But your pooch is different.
Instead of these things, they eat… moss!
Is moss dangerous or poisonous for them?
And most importantly… is this normal dog behavior?
Keep reading to find out:
- 5 health risks.
- Is moss toxic for dogs?
- 3 surprising reasons why dogs like to eat moss.
- 3 tips on what to do to stop your dog from eating moss.
- And much much more…
Table of contents
- Is it bad for dogs to eat moss?
- Is moss poisonous or toxic to dogs? 5 types of moss explained
- Is moss killer harmful to dogs?
- 5 risks if your dog eats moss
- 3 reasons why dogs like eating moss
- 3 tips on how to get your dog to stop eating moss
Is it bad for dogs to eat moss?
It’s not bad for dogs to eat most kinds of moss as they’re generally non-toxic and non-poisonous to animals. However, they can be a health risk if dogs accidentally eat moss with pesticides and fertilizers, or if the one they’ve ingested is near any deadly plant, mushroom, or toads.
Is moss poisonous or toxic to dogs? 5 types of moss explained
#1: Ball moss
Trivia: Ball moss is not moss. It’s an epiphyte.
This means that they just attach themselves to trees. But not because they’re parasites.
They just do this to get nitrogen in the air because it’s the source of their nutrients.
So… are ball moss toxic to dogs?
The answer is no. This type of moss isn’t included in the list of plants that are poisonous to dogs.
#2: Spanish moss
Spanish moss is often found in tropical and humid areas. Like Mexico, Bermuda, or Central and South America.
If you’re not from these areas, no worries.
For sure, you’ve seen this moss somewhere. Like on TV.
Spanish moss is always present in horror films. (Especially in the ones where the plot is about witches.)
Although they’re dreary-looking, they’re far from being poisonous or toxic.
But be careful.
Spanish moss can often be found in oaks.
And sometimes, poisonous mushrooms are underneath these trees.
If your pooch eats this moss with wild toadstool or mushroom, they could get sick.
#3: Irish moss (for the garden)
Irish moss is one of the popular ground covers in the US.
This type of moss is dog-friendly. And it’s barefoot-friendly, too.
It’s lush and very green.
And during spring and summer, they have little white flowers that are very pleasing to the eyes.
The moss itself is non-toxic for your pooch. (As long as they’re not sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers.)
They can run around and roll over it as much as they want to.
Note: Irish moss for the garden is different from the edible Irish moss, which is a type of seaweed.
#4: Sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss is also a ground cover in some parts of the US.
It’s known for being lightweight and affordable.
This moss in itself isn’t toxic or poisonous. But the bacterias and fungi living on it can be a serious concern for your pooch.
If they ingest or get in contact with it.
Your dog can experience gastrointestinal upset and irritation.
#5: Peat moss
Peat moss is decayed Sphagnum moss.
That’s why it’s a type of compost. Which is commercially available, so most people have this in their yard.
Because this moss is made of decayed stuff, dogs naturally get attracted to its smell.
So they may lick or eat it.
But prevent your dog from doing this.
Because peat moss is toxic as it contains a lot of pesticides.
Bonus: Scotch moss
Scotch moss is also one of the beautiful alternatives to grass.
“But is it safe for my pooch?”
This type of moss isn’t poisonous to dogs.
I mean, as long as they’re not sprayed with harmful chemicals. Then your dog should be fine. 🙂
Is moss killer harmful to dogs?
Yes. Moss killers are harmful to dogs.
This is because of the chemicals that are included in them.
Like fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers. (Which include iron salts.)
These substances are known to be toxic to dogs.
Not only when they ingest it. But also when they get in contact with it.
If they roll over it. And their skin or eye gets in contact with it.
They could get irritation.
Their skin could be inflamed. And their eyes could get an infection.
And if they ate moss with moss killer sprayed on them, they may experience:
- Iron poisoning.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
Fact: Statistics show that 85% of American households have pesticides in their home.
5 risks if your dog eats moss
#1: Some mosses are dangerous for your dog
Your dog sees moss like it’s some kind of a delicacy.
One that’s readily available in your yard. Or in the woods that you often walk on.
It’s fun watching them sniff and munch on it.
But hold it!
Eating moss could pose a serious risk to your pooch. Especially if the one they’re eating is toxic for them.
“But how can I tell if the moss is dangerous?”
Mosses like rock moss, peat moss, and moss rose are dangerous for your dog. It could cause poisoning if they eat it.
Rock moss is often found in bank rivers and shady parts in the woods. They’re the ones sticking in large rocks or trees.
While moss rose and peat moss are often used in gardening.
Oh, and if you have a pool, you must also be careful.
Because the slimy moss near it is also a health hazard for your pooch.
This can be often seen in wet areas. Like near the swimming pool or ponds.
And it contains bacterias, algae, and chlorines which are dangerous and toxic.
Not just to your dog. But to you as well.
Now, here’s a list of the non-toxic moss for your pooch:
- Ball moss.
- Irish moss.
- Spanish moss.
- Sphagnum moss.
A friendly reminder, these mosses are still not safe to eat.
#2: Chemical poisoning
This sticky moss is so moist and soft!”
Your dog likes munching on moss whenever they get the chance. You don’t worry much about this eating habit.
Because you think moss isn’t toxic to dogs.
You’re right! (But unfortunately, you’re also wrong.)
Most mosses are safe for dogs.
They can eat it occasionally. Just as how some pooches eat grass.
The only problem is the artificial chemicals in the moss itself.
Especially if you’re using moss and weed killers on it.
These have substances in them that are toxic. And poisonous to dogs when they ingest it.
You see, dogs don’t only eat moss. They also lay down, roll over, and sniff on it.
Once the chemicals get in contact with their paws and fur, they can spread it all over your home.
In their dog bed. On the couches.
And even on their food when they eat.
But what exactly makes these things harmful?
Moss killers have pesticides in them.
The short-term effects of this chemical are vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea.
But did you know…
Research shows that prolonged exposure to pesticides could also cause your dog to have a long-term illness.
Such as cancer.
Aside from pesticides, fertilizers are also a health risk to your dog.
(This is why you have to keep your dog from the plants for at least 2 days. After you put fertilizers on them.)
If your pooch licks their paw that has fertilizer residue on it, they may experience nausea.
Or if they ingested a lot of it, it may cause seizures.
#3: They may accidentally eat poisonous plants
Moss in itself is non-toxic for your pooch. (Except for rock moss and moss rose.)
But the flora around it may be.
If your dog eats moss like it’s a salad buffet, observe them carefully.
There could be leaves of ivy nearby. Or daffodils sprouting along with your garden.
Your pooch may not be aware that they’re also eating these poisonous plants.
Along with the mosses.
ASPCA has a list of all the toxic plants for dogs.
And according to it, there are a lot of plants that could be harmful to your pooch. Some of it you may not be aware of like:
- English ivy.
Warning: If your dog has shown signs of poisoning, take them to the nearest poison control center or vet immediately.
#4: Mushroom poisoning
I found little umbrellas. Can I eat it pwease?”
Another risk of eating moss is being poisoned by wild mushrooms and toadstools.
These are dangerous for your dog. (And for you, too.)
Your pooch may suffer from long-term illnesses. And it may even cause death if they eat the most lethal ones.
I’ve recently read on a forum about a dog in California who died.
Because they ate poisonous mushrooms under an oak tree.
Perhaps the poor dog thought those things were edible. Or they may not have seen it because the moss is blocking it.
“But why are there poisonous mushrooms in there?”
Wild mushrooms and toadstools are small fungi that thrive in moist and dark environments.
And they’re often found under the trees. Because they don’t need much sunlight.
According to VCA Hospitals, poisonous mushrooms may cause:
- Lack of coordination.
- Liver and kidney failures.
“But Petya, my dog sometimes eats mushrooms that I cook. Is that okay?”
Yes, that’s perfectly fine!
Dogs can eat store-bought mushrooms like oysters, buttons, and portobellos.
#5: Blockages and mouth injury
Dogs can easily digest moss.
If they eat it, they’d just poop it out the next day.
But don’t be too confident just yet. Because your dog can still be at risk.
Moss can sometimes have stones, pebbles, and little sticks in them.
And if your dog has ingested these, it can cause blockages.
Both in their airway and intestines.
For instance, your puppy loves munching on moss.
Since they’re small, the little rocks they’ve eaten may be too big for them.
And it may get stuck in their throat. Which will make it difficult for them to breathe.
Or those pebbles may accumulate in their stomach over time.
Which will lead to impacted tummies.
And lastly, the little sticks in mosses can puncture them. Which can cause mouth wounds and bleeding.
Bonus: They could get exposed to toad venom
Lastly, your dog can get poisoned by toads if they like to eat moss.
You see, toads like to stay in moist areas surrounded by plants.
So if your yard has moss and a lot of plants in them, chances are there are also toads hiding somewhere in it.
“Ummm. What’s wrong with toads again?”
According to a study, dogs are more likely to be poisoned by toads than cats.
You see, some toads are lethal. (Depending on their type and location.)
When they’re threatened, they emit deadly toxins.
That makes their skin venomous.
So for example one day your dog’s frolicking in your yard. Then they spot some yummy-looking moss.
What they don’t know is there’s a toad hiding somewhere near it.
And if your dog accidentally licks their venom, they could die.
Just within a matter of minutes.
Sadly, the same thing happened to my friend years ago.
Her dog died after 2 days. Because the poor pooch accidentally ate a toad.
3 reasons why dogs like eating moss
#1: Nutritional deficiency
“My dog likes to eat moss all the time. I wonder why…”, you ask your friend one day.
Does your pooch eat grass, too?
If yes, then a possible reason for this behavior is they lack certain minerals like iron.
And to compensate for it, they eat grass and moss instead.
It could be because their food doesn’t have much nutritional value.
Or their feeding schedule isn’t regular, that’s why they’re malnourished.
#2: They like its taste and texture
Your dog likes to eat moss because they simply love how it tastes and feels in their mouth.
Perhaps your pooch is one of those dogs who have specific preferences in food.
And for them, moss is on their top list of the yummiest food.
But you should still be wary.
Because aside from moss, your dog could also accidentally ingest foreign objects.
Or be exposed to chemicals like pesticides and garden fertilizers.
Your pooch eats moss. Along with rocks, dirt, grass, sticks, etc…
This behavior could be a serious concern. (Both mentally and physically.)
If your pooch likes to eat everything they can get their paws on, it could be because of Pica.
Or the compulsive behavior of eating non-edible items.
So, what‘s causing this?
Your dog could be eating moss to cope with their stress.
An example is if they have separation anxiety. And every time you leave, they compulsively eat random things.
“What are the dangers of Pica, Petya?”
They could be eating parasites along with moss. Or they could also be poisoned by the chemicals sprayed on them.
And if they’re also eating foreign objects, it could cause impacted intestines.
Their body won’t be able to absorb the nutrients in their food.
Which will lead to lethargy and loss of interest in play.
Bonus: It’s a normal dog or puppy behavior
There are many similarities between toddlers and dogs.
First, they’re super cute and adorable.
Second, they’re still in their discovery stage.
And lastly, both like to put things in their mouths.
This is the last reason why your dog or puppy likes to eat moss.
They’re curious. So to know more about this ‘strange thing’ called moss, they have to indulge themselves with it.
It’s normal for dogs to do this.
They sometimes do weird things just because they can.
For example, preferring to drink puddles of muddy rainwater over clean water.
Sleeping on the floor instead of their dog bed.
And lastly, eating moss like it’s the most delicious thing in the world.
3 tips on how to get your dog to stop eating moss
#1: Remove the moss
To stop your dog from eating moss, you have to remove the moss itself.
I believe there’s a saying that goes like…
“What you can’t see won’t make you hungry.”
So first, what you need to do is rake the heck out of the moss.
If you have slimy moss, just sprinkle some soda crystals in all the areas. Keep it moist by dampening it with water.
Once the moss turns brown, scrape it away with a rake, trowel, or yard brush. (Depending on the surface.)
Watch the video below to see how it’s done.
It’ll be hard work, but think that what you’re doing is a labor of love for your pooch.
Now, let the sun shine in your yard.
Trim your trees or cut off the branches that block the sun.
This is to prevent moss from recurring. Since they’re more likely to grow in dark and moist areas.
#2: Teach your dog the ‘Leave it’ command
The ‘Leave it’ command can be very helpful.
Especially if you’re walking with your dog in the woods. And they spot a nice mossy area underneath a tree.
You can also use this if you want to stop them from eating moss in your garden.
What you’ll only need are regular and high-value treats. Like chicken strips or sausages.
Make sure that it’s bite-size, too. You don’t want to make your dog too full.
Here’s how you can do this.
Step 1: Put treats in both of your hands. One regular and one high-value treat.
Step 2: Enclose the regular one in a fist. Then let your dog sniff it.
Step 3: Your dog will try to take the treat out. But ignore them.
Step 4: Say the command ‘Leave it’.
Step 5: When your dog stops sniffing, open your other hand and give them the high-value treat.
Repeat steps 1-5.
Or until your dog has learned that they’ll only receive the treat once they hear the command and stop sniffing.
#3: Redirect their attention
Dogs get easily distracted.
If you want them to stop eating moss, you can just show them something that they like more.
For example, toss them a ball to signal the game of fetch.
Or give them food that it’s impossible for them to resist.
But be careful.
Don’t always distract them with treats. As your pooch may think that they’re receiving rewards when they eat moss.