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Why Does My Pet Eat Grass?

Pet Care Tips 4 min read
Why Does My Pet Eat Grass?

Ever looked out the window to see your cat or dog helping out with the landscaping duties by eating the grass? Do they get sick afterward? It may seem strange to see, but don’t panic just yet. There are many reasons why our pets eat grass, and many of them are natural and common.

Let’s separate cats and dogs to take a closer look:

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

The reason is not completely understood; however, it has been observed in domestic and wild cats and many experts believe that eating grass can be beneficial and is likely a natural instinct. Sound crazy? Think about this: If an outdoor cat catches prey, they consume the entire thing – edible parts as well as inedible parts like feathers, bones, fur, etc. This can be challenging for the digestive system. Now, add grass and they have some help. How, you say? Cats do not have the enzymes necessary to break down this plant matter, so consuming such in its whole and natural form can cause them to throw up (note: not all cats throw up after eating grass). By doing so, the cat can clear its stomach of fur, feathers, bones, parasites (like worms), and its own furballs, which can be irritating to the digestive tract. It’s similar to owls, but unfortunately not in quite as tidy of a bundle.

So, what if your cat doesn’t throw up? It’s ok. Some experts believe that grass can also act as a natural laxative. Maybe it’s intuition that cats know that when they have a hairball or other indigestible material that makes its way deeper into the digestive tract, eating a little bit of grass can help smooth the move.

The juices in grass contain folic acid and other micronutrients, which are essential for a cat’s bodily functions.

Another theory is that cats will eat grass for nutritional purposes. The juices in grass contain folic acid and other micronutrients, which are essential for a cat’s bodily functions. Going back to cats that eat prey for a moment. As previously discussed, when cats eat prey, they often eat the entire thing. This includes the stomach (and stomach contents). Since the majority of prey would consume plant material, the cats would also ingest this plant matter, absorbing the nutrients it provides. Now, most of us feed our cats well, giving them no reason to hunt for food, so they might not be getting those nutritional remnants. Their bodies may be telling them that they are lacking nutrients causing the craving to munch on some greens.

Some cats might also eat grass just because they can. Maybe they simply like the taste. We have heard of many cats, including our own, that do not hesitate to devour foods in the fruit and veggie category, like apples, celery, carrots, and peas.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Eating grass is quite common in both domestic and wild species of dogs, and just like cats, maybe completely natural. There is still some debate as to whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores, however, it is agreed that they are more of an opportunistic scavenger than carnivorous cats, and can survive on whatever is available, including omnivorous diets. Wild dogs often eat a good portion of fruits and plants, giving them a wider array of nutrition, and our domesticated versions may still have this innate nutritional craving.

Grass eating in dogs doesn’t usually lead to throwing up, but gulping it down in large bites instead of being chewed can. Experts believe that the grass tickles the throat and stomach lining causing the reaction to throw up. Some studies show that less than 10% of dogs seem sick before eating it but may do so to induce vomiting when they feel unwell or gassy. So why else would they eat grass?

Just like cats, one theory is that they eat grass for nutritional support. Not only does it contain important nutrients, but it also provides fiber, which can be helpful with digestion. Some dogs that regularly eat grass are simply not getting enough fiber in their diet.

So, you feed your dog a balanced and nutritious diet, why are they still eating grass? Another reason that dogs eat grass, especially puppies, is because they are bored. A much better alternative to our human boredom snacks, *cough, potato chips*, but not ideal. If you find that your pup is acting more like a cow in a field, you might need to increase their exercise and playtime to reduce boredom. Maybe consider buying them a new toy that they can play with independently if time is not on your side.

Also, like cats (so many similarities for such different animals!), dogs might just like the taste of it.

Ok, that was a lot of info – What’s the gist of it? Eating grass is normal, but a sudden increase in grass consumption could be a sign of intestinal distress and should be monitored. For dogs, this could also signal boredom or a nutritional/fiber deficiency in their food and you may want to consider switching to better food.

What can you do to help? Grass grown outdoors may very well have been sprayed with chemicals and fertilizers, so to ensure your pet is eating the best option, you can grow your own. Try growing a little pot that they can easily reach, either inside your house or on the patio (multifunctional – also adds to décor!). Some great options are: Wheatgrass, Barley, Orchard Grass, and Common oat. You don’t need a green thumb – they are easy to grow and just need a bright spot and regular watering. Also, make sure that household and garden plants are a non-toxic variety as your pet may not discriminate as to the foliage they eat!

If you feel that your cat is eating grass to help with hairballs, try adding some NHV Hairb-Ez to their daily regime. It helps dissolve ingested hairballs, eliminating the need for vomiting and reducing constipation and discomfort.

If constipation is the issue, NHV Maris works quickly to help relieve constipation, promoting soft stools and gastrointestinal health.

If you feel that your dog is chomping on more grass due to a nutrient deficiency, add NHV Multi Essentials to their diet to help fill nutritional gaps. You can also try adding some cooked veggies that are high in fiber to their regular food.

Have unanswered questions about your pet’s grass-eating habit? One of our Pet Experts will happily help you!

NHV Pet Experts

NHV Pet Experts

We have a dedicated group of pet expert professionals, including veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals to guide you through any questions. We’re committed to your pet’s wellness and can offer additional tips, resources, nutritional advice, and more.

Published: July 7, 2017

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