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GRASS

First broadcast on www.provet.co.uk .


Note for Pet Owners

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Both dogs and cats can sometimes be seen eating grass....but is this normal ?

Grass is pretty indigestible for cats and dogs because they do not have the digestive enzymes necessary to breakdown the fibre content ..which is high. Apart from fibre and water, grass also contains some minerals, vitamin A and sometimes vitamin D. 

The nutritional value of grass for cats and dogs is very poor...so there is unlikely to be a basic instinctive nutritional reason why cats and dogs would eat grass ...unless they have a need for dietary fibre itself which is thought to be unlikely. Cats in particular are known to be obligate carnivores and have no requirement for nutrients derived from plant material.

It has been reported (but not scientifically proved) that cats and dogs will eat grass if they have a digestive system problem such as gastritis or nausea. They will also eat unusual materials if they have a nutritional deficiency, or if they are hungry and do not have access to food. On the other hand eating small amounts of untypical foods ..grass, wood, leaves ..can just be a normal behavioural trait and is not important providing the material eaten is not toxic - such as laburnum leaves or sticks. Grass is usually safe - unless it has been sprayed with herbicide or insecticides.

Provet Recommendation If your pet suddenly starts eating grass it would be worthwhile getting your veterinarian to examine it just in case there is an underlying gastrointestinal problem or a nutritional deficiency.

Feedback from Provet Visitor :

I just thought that perhaps I could add my input on this subject.  I have an almost 10 year old golden retriever mix named Polly.  Just this morning I took her out for our early morning walk and she started practically mowing the lawn.  I was just on the internet to see perhaps if it was a sign that I was missing something.  Something new anyway.  Basically I discovered that in her case it is simply to induce vomiting.  I was unaware that she had gotten into the trash during the night (not usually a problem with her but leftovers had been dumped and the bag didnít make it all the way outside.)  When she came in she had a sad look on her face...walked a few steps and threw up the most pleasant pile.  I thought about it and realized every time she had eaten grass she had thrown up afterwards.  I never knew how she knew that eating grass would make her vomit.  I would love to hear that explained if anyone can ever get into the mind of my canine.

I also have 2 cats, Salem and Jenna.  I found Salem would do the same thing as Polly.  If he had a hairball he couldnít pass he would beg to go outside.  Once I let him out he would devour grass.  Luckily he would stay outside until the grass had done its job.  So if I had to provide a reason for animals to eat grass I would definitely say that it was to help with an upset stomach.

 

Updated October 2013