It is not unusual for cats and dogs to eat grass occasionally. And, in principle, it is not a dangerous habit either. In fact, although cats and dogs are carnivorous animals, their digestive systems are prepared to process vegetables from time to time.
You have often heard the expression “cats/dogs eat grass to purge themselves”, meaning to eliminate a food or object that has upset them. There is some truth to this belief, but dogs and cats do not eat grass exclusively for this reason.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 reasons why a dog or cat may eat grass:
1.- To help your intestinal transit. Herbs provide fibre, which helps to expel faeces more easily. Constipation is also an ailment suffered by our pets, and eating grass is an instinctive habit with which their organism can improve this uncomfortable situation. For dogs, it is a survival behaviour inherited from wolves.
In theory, if your dog or cat is eating a proper diet and does not have any nutrient or vitamin deficiencies (you can check this on Picart’s nutritional finder), he or she should not feel the need to eat grass. However, it wouldn’t hurt to consult a veterinarian about which food is best for your pet.
2.- To relieve digestive problems. This is popularly known as “purging”. If the dog or cat has an unpleasant stomach, either because something had make it feel sick or because it has ingested an object that it cannot digest (a stone, a ball…), it will eat grass to make itself vomit and thus expel what is hurting it and cleanse its stomach. Cats also often do this to eliminate hairballs.
3.- For pleasure. Eating grass can be satisfying for your dog or cat. They just may like the taste, enjoy sniffing and chewing, or enjoy the coolness of the grass in the mouth (especially if it is wet).
Is it bad for my dog or cat to eat grass?
As we said, initially it is not harmful to your pet. But you must control this habit. If it does it very often, it may be a symptom that the food you are giving it is not the most appropriate for it (go to Picart’s nutritional search engine to find out what is the best food for your dog or cat).
It could also mean that the animal has a problem with its digestive system. If so, you should take him to the vet for an assessment of the situation and take the necessary measures.