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.
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.
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.
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?
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!