Why does your dog or cat eat grass?

By Valdette Muller| July 31, 2018 | Blog

When you notice your beloved canine or feline companion is grazing like a cow, you might be asking yourself the following questions…

Is my cat or dog hungry? Bored? Sick? Can this be harmful to my pet?

Most experts believe it is not something that we as pet parents should worry about. So why exactly do our dogs or cats eat grass?

There are many theories to go around; from eradicating intestinal parasites as a result of a dietary deficiency, to enjoying the taste of grass…but no one really knows for sure!

Carnivorous or Omnivorous.

Grazing is a word that you would usually associate with herbivores, such as cows or sheep; but if given the chance, cats and dogs will graze too.

This may seem weird to many pet owners who understand that their cats and dogs are predatory carnivores.

There have been studies done that prove that cats and dogs can become both omnivorous if needed, but do have a preferred diet as a carnivore.

This mix between diets can be seen in feral populations as well as our own domesticated pets.

Nature’s Laxative.

One of the more common theories is that dogs and cats use grass for medicinal purposes, such as a natural laxative to help counteract any cases of indigestion.

Cats tend to eat more grass as a digestive aid or to get more fiber in their diet. If a cat wanted to flush something out of their system, say to get rid of any unwanted animal remains or fur balls, they will gnaw on some grass to help the process along.

Dogs on the other hand are more complicated. Animal experts still are juggling theories as to why dogs eat grass.

Dogs also are known to eat a lot of weird stuff, which can be seen as a disorder called pica. Some might say that dogs turn to eating grass for the same reasons as cats do, in order to get things moving along in their digestive tract. More research is needed in this area.

Experts have studied the same behaviour in wolves and other wild dogs such as jackals. Wilder dog counterparts have been observed eating more grass and even fruit when they are unable to locate their usual prey.

Some may say that domestic dogs just like the taste of grass, as grass has a sweeter flavour than their usual food.

Both cats and dogs lack the necessary enzymes to break down raw vegetable matter such as grass. This is why we find it in their vomit or in their stools afterwards.

How do I stop my Dog from grazing too much?

Your dog could be doing it out of boredom (behavour problem known as Pica) or because of a nutritional deficiency.

Nutritional problem: Switching to a another dog food, especially a high-fiber variety, could help alleviate the problem.

Boredom problem: Engage your dog in some fun activities. Try tossing a Frisbee or playing another interactive game with them, or buy them a sturdy chew toy to keep them occupied.

Grasses for pets.

You may want to buy a small tray of grass just for the cat or dog, or start your own herbal home garden for your pets.

Good grasses that your pet will love are Oat grassAvena sativa or wheatgrassTriticum aestivum. These two types of grass are the most popular choices for cats and even dogs to chew on.

Things to keep in mind about your outdoor grasses, your garden and your pets.

Although most experts agree that grazing itself is not harmful, there are a few things to keep in mind:

We ask all pet owners to be extremely careful when using pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides on or near plant material which is accessible to your pets.

Please also be wary of planting new plants in your garden and make sure that they are non-toxic to pets.

If you find that your pet has eaten grass and is unwell, please speak to your vet so that they can perform a thorough examination to make sure everything is ok.

 

Sources: https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_dg_eating_grass

https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/grass-why-does-your-pet-eat-grass

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