Monday, July 12, 2010


Have you ever watched your dog or cat nibbling on grass and wondered what it meant?  You are certainly  not alone in your curiosity.  There have been many theories and olde wives tales about the reasons for the behavior.  There are two theories that are the most common, the first is that the animal is sick and eats the grass to make himself vomit.  The second is that the animal must have something missing from his diet and needs the grass as a supplement to his food.  But according to research conducted by Benjamin Hart, DVM, PhD, both theories are false. 

The University of California-Davis vet students took part in the study and found that their pets, like the other 1500 dogs, were predominately eating grass simply for pleasure.  Only 9% of the pet owners reported that their dog appeared to be feeling ill before eating grass. And less than one in four vomited afterward.  The results of the study also showed that lack of fiber or poor diet had no impact on the dogs' desire to eat more grass.

So then, why do dogs eat grass?  Dr. Hart concluded that ancestry was the clue.  Wild dogs, wolves, foxes all eat grass either by purposely grazing or inadvertently ingesting the grass in the stomach or intestine of their prey.  And, similar to wild canine, young animals seemed to eat grass more often than older animals.

So rest assured that your grass eating pet is fairly normal and the behavior should not cause undue alarm.  However, there are a couple precautions.  We actually had a dog come in for a food bloat because of eating too much grass.  They can still get too much of a good thing.  Be alert to whether the grass being ingested may have been treated with insecticides or chemicals that could be toxic.  Also, be aware of the poisonous plants in your house or yard.  Be sure to get your pet to a veterinary hospital right away if you witness a potential toxic ingestion.  Otherwise, bon apetite!

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