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Why Do Dogs and Cats Eat Grass?

As a loving and devoted pet owner, you probably feed your pet the best, nutritionally complete food and also give them healthy pet treats (riiiiiiight?). So, why do some pets feel the need to snack on grass? Also, is it bad for them? Well, the answer isn’t the same for every animal, but don’t worry: it is usually harmless. unless your pet is throwing up as a result. But even in those situations, an upset stomach due to grass grazing is usually no reason to panic.


“Ahhh, yes, that’s the good stuff…”

Even if a pet’s diet is complete, cravings for certain things (like grass) can occur. If your pet is just taking a few nibbles of grass and no gastrointestinal upset is present, there is probably not much cause for concern (as long as your lawn isn’t treated with any harmful chemicals). In other cases, pets have the behavioral drive to eat things that aren’t typically considered food. For some pets, this might be grass, but it can also be things like paper or plastic (which is obviously a very bad habit)

According to an actual study on this phenomenon, researchers found that grass-eating is pretty common among domesticated dogs, with about 79% of them having tried it at least once or more in their lives. A different study found that grass is the most commonly eaten plant among pet owners, which shouldn’t be surprising considering it is usually all over the typical family’s yard.


“Hey, don’t knock it til ya try it!”

So why are cats and dogs supplementing their diet with grass? Well, there are several theories, one of which being simply that they may do this simply because it feels good to chew on that item; that they enjoy the texture of the grass on their teeth/mouth or even the taste. I mean, dogs pretty much try to chew on anything they can get their paws on, so it isn’t too hard to believe that they want to experiment with some grass-eating. One theory that has since been mostly disproved is that the pet is eating grass to induce their own vomiting so they can feel less nauseated. According to evidence gathered (yes, people are studying this), less than 10% of pets are known to have an upset stomach before they eat grass – and about 25% of dogs that vomit after eating grass immediately eat more of it. So, that theory doesn’t really hold that much water.

"I love grass so much that my owner bought me my own plant for inside the house!

“I love grass so much that my owner bought me my own plant for inside the house!

More concrete, science-backed evidence suggests that your dog or cat may be trying to treat itself for worms, digestive issues, or a nutritional deficiency. Grass contains a lot of fiber, which we all know helps digestion and constipation, so maybe dogs somehow can sense this. While many scientists and researchers are skeptical about this theory, there are examples to back up this claim. For instance, a poodle that ate grass (and threw up afterwards) every day for 7 YEARS, but after a couple of days of being on a new fiber-rich diet, they never ate grass again! That cannot be a coincidence, can it?


“Can’t stop, won’t stop!”

Another reason that your pet could be chewing on grass is because they are bored and they are trying to entertain themselves. Maybe the way that it sways in the breeze makes it seem like it’s some kind of toy or creature that your dog wants to play with and/or eat? Either way, if this is the case, then you should probably play with your dog or cat and take them on walks more. If you are entertaining your pet and they still choose to have this grass-chewing hobby, then just let them do it. As stated, it isn’t harmful!



If it becomes a daily occurrence for your pet to chew on grass and throw it up (like that poodle we talked about), perhaps you should contact your vet, and be prepared to answer a few questions when you go in for your visit. Does your pet vomit after eating grass? Has your pet’s diet changed recently? Are there any patterns in your pet’s behavior?

Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a vet might run a variety of tests including blood work, a fecal exam, x-rays, and an abdominal ultrasound. For many pets, eating grass is a symptom of a minor illness or nothing at all. If your pet is actually very sick, they might be secretly munching on some other plant that you have that is toxic. Be sure to keep an eye on your furchild so that you know exactly what they are ingesting while perusing your yard!

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • THOMAS M. CURRY March 25, 2014, 4:45 am

    My dog swims often —what flea and tick med is waterproof?

    • VetDepot March 25, 2014, 3:30 pm

      Hi Thomas. Many flea and tick preventatives, such as Frontline Plus and Advantage II, are waterproof. We advise that you consult with your pet’s veterinarian regarding the best product for your individual dog.

    • Miss Vicky June 24, 2014, 5:54 am

      The medication in the topical products gets absorbed into the skin so a couple of hours after application, its safe to swim or bathe after that.

  • Karon White March 25, 2014, 8:18 am

    Thank you for all the insight on our pets’ care. It’s just as important for us long-time pet owners as it is for new pet parents. Though I just have a small dog, I read about other kinds of pets and pass along the information. Please don’t stop giving us all the good advice. Thank you VetDepot 🙂

  • Private One March 25, 2014, 8:26 am

    Cats and dogs both will eat grass to remove fur balls from the back of their throat gotten from grooming.

    • NIna March 25, 2014, 5:55 pm

      Never heard this before — thanks for the input!

  • Cheryl Malone March 25, 2014, 11:05 am

    It has been my lifelong experience with countless breeds and personalities of dogs, big and small, that in Spring when the first rich green shoots start popping out of Winter’s brown coat the dogs start to nipple and taste. Not to worry about that, just don’t let them eat more than a little at a time or they will get an upset tummy.

  • BJ Conner March 26, 2014, 7:58 am

    During this very cold winter, with no grass available, my Standard Poodle vomited a large quantity of bad food (he had gotten into something outdoors when he got away from me), plus some blue fiber. When I caught him eating my blue shaggy rug I realized he was trying to induce vomiting this way – he has never destroyed anything previously. It worked! Good news for the dog – bad news for the rug. I was astounded by his ability to seek and find something that would make him feel better.

  • Mary June 1, 2016, 9:09 am

    My dog only nibbles certain weeds in the lawn – both in the Spring, and a day or two after the grass is mowed – she searches out her favorites – only has a bite or two and doesn’t vomit

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