Why Do Dogs And Cats Eat Grass?

Last weekend, I was asked why dogs and cats eat grass and other plant material?  Since this is a common question, I decided to address this issue on the blog.  After observing animal behavior for years, I believe there are two basic reasons for eating grass.  First, there is a small group of dogs and cats that simply like to eat plants.  Even though these pets have good diets, they like to nibble on something green.  They consume small amounts that usually pass through their gastric systems without any problem.  The second group eats large amounts of plant material and then vomits.  I think these animals are nauseated and instinctively consume roughage to stimulate vomiting.  I have heard stories of wolves who consume burned wood after eating poisons.  If true, it makes sense from a medical perspective.  The burned wood is of course, charcoal.  This material naturally absorbs poison and prevents it from being absorbed into the wolf’s bloodstream.  We veterinarians keep activated charcoal in the clinic for just this purpose.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.