Many pet owners ask this question and a variety of answers are usually given. Stomach problems, dietary deficiencies, too low of dietary fiber have all been suggested as possibilities. Board certified behaviorist Benjamin Hart, DVM, PhD, and his colleagues sought to get some insights by surveying over 3100 dog owners. Questions pertained to dog’s grass eating habits, diet, health, whether they appeared ill before or after they ate grass, and a battery of other related issues.
Sixty eight percent of respondents reported that their dogs ate grass on a daily or weekly basis. A few dogs (8 %) appeared to show signs of illness before eating grass, and those dogs were more likely to vomit after eating grass. Owners were also asked about their dog’s diet. There was no connection of grass eating to table scrap or raw food diets, nor was there an indication that dogs on lower fiber diets tended to eat more grass than those getting higher fiber diets. Their conclusions were that grass eating is a very common dog behavior in normal dogs, and that vomiting and illness is not usually associated with it.
What about cats ? Another study by a different group of researchers suggests that just as with dogs, cats do not typically appear ill prior to eating grass, nor do they regularly vomit afterward. So why do dogs and cats eat grass ? We still don’t know for sure but another suggestion is that dog’s and cat’s wild ancestors were able to remove intestinal parasites this way, and that our domesticated pets have retained this instinct. In any case, pet owners need not be alarmed by grass consumption. Chemically treated lawns and toxic plants should be avoided if possible, and of course have your pet checked out if they seem ill whether they are grass eaters or not.