The information contained in this article was obtained from Veterinary News Network and Applied Animal Behavior Science, 111: 120-132.

A very commonly asked question of veterinarians is “Doctor why does my dog or cat keep eating grass?”

Over the years the usual answer has been that the pet eats grass, because the pet is sick and instinctively tries to make themself vomit. The other common answer is that there is some type of deficiency within the pet’s diet, and the pet is trying to correct the deficiency.

Well, to test these notions, the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, conducted a survey of over 3,000 pet owners. The study was developed by Drs. Karen Sueda, Kelly Cliff and Benjamin Hart. Of the 3,000 surveys, 1,600 were used in the study. They found that 80% of the dogs, when having the chance to eat grass or some other plant did so. From the results they also found that 68% of the dogs ate grass on a daily or at least a weekly basis. Very few, only 8%, of the dogs demonstrated any signs of illness before eating grass or some other plant and of that group, 22% vomited post ingestion. The vomiting was more prevalent in dogs showing some signs of illness before eating the plant material. The survey also implied that younger dogs tended to eat grass or plants more and they did not appear to be ill prior to ingestion, and did not vomit routinely after ingestion.

Based on these findings, it appears that eating grass or plants is more of a behavioral issue that occurs commonly in dogs, and there is no relationship to the pet being ill and the grass eating by the pet. They also concluded that vomiting does not usually occur after the ingestion.

We just said this is normal, but it has also been suggested that the eating of grass and/or plants, may be a means for dogs and cats in the wild, to help eliminate intestinal worms. Based on this, our domesticated species may have simply inherited the trait for the consumption of grass and plants.

With cats, the situation is about the same; however, it appears that cats are less likely to eat grass or plants, they also do not appear to be ill before ingesting and they also do not usually vomit after eating plant material.

So what’s the conclusion here? Well, basically it is concluded that this is a normal behavioral action of both dogs and cats, and pet owners need not be concerned with it. However; if the pet has signs of illness prior to ingesting grass or plants, the pet should be examined as a precautionary measure to determine if there is an underlying disease process occurring. Finally, this does not mean that dogs and cats can eat any type of grass or plants. Remember, there are toxic plants in nature and in homes. Also, the ingestion of grass that has been treated with fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides could potentially be very serious if ingested.

It might just be best, to take measures, so your pet does not ingest any grass or plants.

 

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