Why Does My Dog or Cat Eat Grass

by The Pet Care Guy on August 1, 2009

If you own a dog or cat, you’ve probably encountered a time when your pet happily decides to munch away on grass only to throw it up a short time later. That probably left you wondering why on earth your pet would do that.

My dog Storm will literally stand and graze with our horses when he is at the ranch with us and we let the horses eat grass.

For one thing, it’s very common for a dog or cat to eat grass. There’s no clear consensus on why they do it, but speculations range from them craving the grass, like when we crave a salad or greens because it just tastes good, adding roughage to their diets, adding vitamins and minerals from the grasses, to them not feeling well and eating it to cause vomiting. Some also think that eating grass helps cats get rid of hairballs.

There may be times when your pet is not feeling well and wants to regurgitate something. But, many times dogs or cats will eat grass and not get sick at all. I have heard that the little barbs on the grass leaf is what tickles the insides and causes the pet to throw up. Wheat grass is smooth and does not have any barbs on the leaves. But, if this is the case, why doesn’t my dog get sick every time he chows down on grass?

Most people view this behavior by both cats and dogs as just a natural way of being, that eating grass is normal and healthy and shouldn’t be discouraged. Some say it’s a natural part of a carnivore’s diet. In the wild, the dog’s and cat’s ancestors ate the greens that were in the intestines of the prey they hunted and killed.

Dogs and cats will eat the grass you typically see on household lawns, and cats love to chow down on “kitty grass” (usually wheat grass). You can buy it at grocery stores or pet stores in little plant containers, or grow it yourself.┬áSeveral of my client’s cats love wheat grass, but she limits their intake because they tend to eat and eat until they vomit. Another client can leave it out and the cats will just nibble at it. However, she will occasionly find regurgitated grass on the floor. Wheat grass is supposed to have smooth edges, whereas lawn grass tends to have ridged edges, which may tickle the throat or tummy and cause them to throw up.

Also keep in mind that it’s dangerous to let your pet wander around taking samples of random lawns as if he was at a buffet. Lawns and plants can contain unseen chemicals and pesticides that you’ll want to keep your pet away from. If he’s going to eat greens, control what he eats, giving him access to only what you know to be safe and poison-free.

The bottom line is that if your pet eats grass and throws it back up occasionally, it’s probably nothing to be too concerned about. However, if your pet seems too interested in eating grass all the time or eating large volumes at a time, or is vomiting more frequently, you should take him into the vet for a check-up and voice your concerns.

References:
http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/nutritioninformation/f/FAQ_eatgrass.htm
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2085&aid=1139
http://www.wisegeek.com/why-do-dogs-eat-grass.htm

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gayle Buske August 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm

That’s very interesting. We have several dogs and they do this all the time. I’ve always wondered why! Great info! Thanks!

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Rick Delgado August 8, 2009 at 6:24 pm

That old wive’s tale of dogs eating grass because they have an upset stomach really sticks in people’s minds, but only tells a small part of the story.

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