Why Does My Pet Eat Grass?
Veterinarian Reviewed on February 24, 2010 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Many, many, many humans have been dogging me with these questions lately: “Why is my pet pal chomping down in the garden?” and “my kitty took an extra long prowl through our lawn today, and – hey, what the heck that big green mess on my carpet?!”. Shtuff like that. So I thought that today I would discuss a very common occurance: why pets eat grass.
The answer is not, pardon the pun, clear cut. It seems as though some mammals can’t digest grass, but one class of mammals can: the ruminants. These are grass-eating mammals that digest their food in two steps. First, the ruminant chews and swallows its food, then brings it back up into the mouth to re-chew before swallowing again. We refer to this second stage as “chewing the cud”. Ruminants include cattle, goats, sheep, camels, alpacas, llamas, giraffes, American Bison (buffalo), European bison, yaks, water buffalo, deer, wildebeest and antelope.
Obviously we dogs and cats are not in this special class of mammals (although my next-door neighbor’s cat can be a real cow sometimes). Still, you do find us from time to time out in the fields (or lawn, or grass patch) mowing away.
We Like The Taste
Some of us simply like the taste (I know some of you do too, as well as the smell). It’s pretty darn yummy.
It Has Nutrients
Grass provides some pets with nutrients, which can be missing from commercially prepared pet food (remember this post? Dawg mark it, yaw’ll!). We dogs tend to be able to use the nutrition in grass more than cats, but on the whole most commercially prepared pet food is mostly grain-based, with little to no nutrients. Make sure your pet food is mostly protein and vegetable based, with little or no grain products. We may still head for the hills, but it won’t be to vomit up bad foods.
Which is another reason we eat grass.
Grass Induces Vomiting
When one of us has a little too much to eat, or something that doesn’t agree with our tummies, we’ll chow down on the green stuff. It really helps to bring up and out anything that is disturbing our digestive systems. Ain’t we smart?
And kitties eat a ton of their own fur, so eating grass can help them hack it up better.
It Should Be Organic
If we’re eating grass to get rid of poisons in our system, what’s the point if the green stuff isn’t “green”? Take another tip from another one of my posts: please don’t treat your lawns and gardens with chemical pesticides. See, we love rolling around in that green stuff. We bury things in it. And to the point of this post: we eat it.
If you don’t have a yard, you can actually buy specially grown grasses for pets to eat inside! Or try sprouting your own: I know of a great grass site HERE!
Know Your Greens! The Difference Between Grass And Toxic Plants
So there we go, the answer to your questions about furry friends and our love of grass. On a final note, I think it’s a good idea to mention that not all green stuff is ok for us to put in our mouths! Grass aside, many house plants can actually be toxic for us. Here’s a list of plants we pets (and kiddies, too!) should stay away from.
Heading out to graze, Buster
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan