Ask the Vet: Why Does My Pet Eat Grass?

Dog Rolling in the Grass
Many of you probably read Dr. Ruby’s excellent article on pets that eat poop, but this may have brought up another question in your mind-why does my dog or cat eat grass? Hopefully this article will answer this question and provide a little insight into this weird behavior.

1. It is Actually a Normal Behavior.

There are many proposed theories as to why pets eat grass including boredom, stress, illness, parasites, nutritional deficits, etc. There is currently no evidence to support these theories. Grass and plant eating has been observed in wolves and wild dogs which supports that this may be an instinctual behavior in dogs and cats.

2. Is My Pet Sick?

Most likely no. Several surveys have been conducted which found that most dogs and cats that eat grass have no symptoms of illness prior to eating grass. They also found that they rarely vomit afterwards. However, if your pet suddenly starts eating grass or has other symptoms of illness such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, or won’t eat their normal food then have your veterinarian examine him or her.

3. Is Their Diet Lacking?

Again, there seems to be no link between nutritional deficiency and grass eating. Most pets just like the taste. To ensure your pet is eating a balanced diet, look for the Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO statement on the bag or can. This organization has developed guidelines regarding the nutritional needs of dogs and cats that pet food manufacturers use to ensure their food is providing that correct nutrients and minerals.

4. Ensuring a Safe Yard

Having your yard treated with fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides generally will not harm your pet either. Your lawn care company or the instructions on the product label will tell you when it is safe for your pets to be on the lawn. With most common fertilizers, eating a few blades of grass will not have enough product in them to cause illness. If your pet likes to eat other plants besides grass, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants below and avoid planting them where your pet has access to.
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If you have any concerns about your pet eating grass, please contact your veterinarian for help. Here at Sunset we want your pet to be safe while enjoying the yard during nice weather.

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