Just like tigers and lions, dogs and cats will munch on grass and we often get asked: “Why? What as a pet-parent am I doing that makes my pet feel as though eating grass is the most attractive food choice?”
Never fear, a recent study was done on just why this occurs, the answer has been guessed at many times in the past – but much like yawning, a definitive answer has always been elusive.
Common theories speculated that the pet might be sick and needs to vomit, or perhaps there is a deficiency in their diet. New studies indicate, however, that neither of these theories are correct.
They found that very few dogs – only about 9% – appeared to be ill before eating grass. And less than one in four actually vomited afterwards (that’s only about 2 in 100 dogs that were ill before eating grass and vomited as a result! And 25 in 100 that vomit as a result of it.). Diet or lack of fibre also had no effect on the dogs’ desire to eat these leafy greens.
It is believed that it’s a trait they inherited from their wild ancestors due to the domestication of dogs having no effect on this behaviour. We know that wolves, tigers and even lions eat grass. Wild animals don’t have anything like the medicines we have access to for controlling worms, but by eating grass on a regular basis, they can prevent a buildup by purging their systems of internal parasites.
What does this all mean?
Dogs seem to eat grass habitually as a means to ensure that they have a nice clean system that worms and other parasites can’t take advantage of. Contrary to popular beliefs, dogs and cats both eat grass regardless of whether they are sick, or whether their diet contains enough fibre – they eat it explicitly so they throw up, so those lil’ suckers (parasites) can’t stick around in their systems and cause any harm. With all things pet-care though, if you’re pet has suddenly changed behaviour (like eating grass when you’ve never seen them do it before), it may be worth a quick check with the vet – you never know if your pet is one of the 2% that eats grass due to illness!
If you’re interested in the study, you can access it for free here
Should to you have any questions about your pets, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re always happy to help.