2001-Mon Oct 15 04:45:56 EDT 2018
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Who hasn’t wondered, “Why does my pet eat grass?” The truth is there isn’t one clear reason. What we do know is that eating small amounts of grass can be a harmless, albeit curious, thing for a perfectly healthy dog or cat to do. But when nibbling turns into gulping great hunks of the stuff — and grassy vomit hits the kitchen tile — it’s time to wonder what’s going on.
Your vet may consider several reasons your pet is eating grass, including these:
1. Behavioral drives. Pica is a word used to describe eating things that do not serve a biologic or nutritional purpose — such as when a pet eats paper or plastic. It may be that the behavior feels good or there is some other behavioral reason. But a medical issue, such as a neurologic disease, can cause pica, so it shouldn’t be completely written off without discussing with your vet.
2. Nutritional cravings. Even though a dog or cat may be eating a nutritionally complete diet, that doesn't mean that cravings for certain things (such as grass) don't occur.
3. Idiopathic causes. Idiopathic means simply that the veterinarian doesn't know the exact cause. But you should continue to watch the situation.
Owners who observe their pets frequently nibbling grass probably don’t need to rush to the emergency room. Rather, they should watch their pets to gain more information about the grass eating. Ask yourself:
If you answer no to the first two, there’s probably no need to raise the issue with your veterinarian. If the answer to either is yes, it’s worth paying attention to No. 3.
Armed with this information, owners can then present their findings to their veterinarians.
Your pet’s doctor will begin looking for a medical condition at work in the grass consumption. The goal is to figure out if it is a sign of a minor ailment, a more serious disease, or nothing more than normal albeit slightly eccentric behavior.
Normally the vet will start with the least invasive test and move on to more expensive, more invasive tests as needed (which will depend on the severity of the symptoms). From least to most invasive:
Few grass-eaters are likely to have ever suffered an exploratory laparoscopy to surgically look into the contents of an abdomen and biopsy the gastrointestinal tract, but severe symptoms could theoretically lead a veterinarian to decide this is the best approach.
Not every grass-eater has a serious medical problem, though. For many pets who want to sample the lawn, the prescription may be to let them go right ahead. Just make sure the grass is not treated with any chemicals that could be harmful if your pet eats them.
This article was written by a Veterinarian.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Thank you for subscribing.