dogs cats and grass
October 1, 2005 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Both my dog and my cat eat grass. The dog will eat until she vomits and then will eat no more. Sometimes the grass will cause instantaneous diarrhea. I do not know as much about being a dog as my dog does and I am assuming that she is doing this because she needs whatever relief she is getting. Why do dogs and cats eat grass?
posted by Raybun to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Why do dogs and cats eat grass?
posted by trevyn at 6:43 PM on October 1, 2005

My dog (George) eats a bit of grass quite often, in the garden, or at the park, he very infrequently vomits. Maybe once in the last year that I've seen.

I'd agree with the first link from trevyn's google suggestion. George definitely prefers lusher thicker looking leaves, and seems to go for certain bits very deliberately.
posted by The Monkey at 6:59 PM on October 1, 2005

The best answer I've heard (unfortunately trevyn's smart ass link to Google only indicates that no real answer exists) is that vomitting does not cause dogs, presumably cats too, the same pain and discomfort it causes us. If they like or prefer the taste of grass they will continue to eat it even though it makes them vomit. Our dog as a puppy tried to eat grass but didn't take to it. We keep the lawn mowed short and do a fertalizer and insecticide regime. I have a feeling that one of these contributed to a less-than-desirable taste in her mouth.
posted by geoff. at 8:57 PM on October 1, 2005

For cats, I've read that in the wild, the first thing they eat is the stomach (and contents) of their kill. This provides them with their vegetables. Domesticated, they don't get that, but crave it.

As I recall, this was, however, on a package of sprouting seeds (wheat) for cats. I got the stuff and my cat loved it, and it did not make here vomit. Seems healthy to me. At the time, health food stores in NYC were making a drink of the same stuff (young wheat plants). Since I'm not a cat, I didn't drink the stuff.
posted by Goofyy at 9:25 PM on October 1, 2005

From what I understand, they eat certain plants in order to purge themselves when necessary.
posted by sic at 1:52 AM on October 2, 2005

My dog used to eat grass very infrequently, but always vomited after doing so - I always assumed that he did it because he was feeling sick and needed to vomit (the infrequency of it suggested that it wasn't just because he liked the taste of grass).
posted by greycap at 7:11 AM on October 2, 2005

Having had a cat with vomiting problems, I think the vomiting is not so enjoyable for the cat. Probably they need to get something out of their system (that's the folklore, anyway) and grass for some reason is a non-poisonous emetic. But my cat's vomiting episodes are plainly painful and he is not doing it for fun.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:20 AM on October 2, 2005

Make sure your pets don't eat grass that has been exposed to fertilizers or can make them really sick beyond the emetic effect.
posted by nekton at 4:57 PM on October 2, 2005

I've heard that dogs and cats eat grass because of the nutrients that they can smell in them. (Side note, dogs in particular eat a lot of really gross things for this reason.) This could suggest a deficiency, or something missing from their diet, so look at what you're feeding them first. The reason that they vomit after eating the grass is that it tickles or irritates their throat or intestines. I guess that could cause diarrhea too?
Dogs and cats can make themselves vomit whenever they feel like it. It's a neat trick they use when they've eaten something on impulse, and then decided afterwards that it wasn't a good idea. They don't need grass to help them vomit, more likely they are vomiting because of the grass.
If it seems that your dog or cat are regularly attempting to eat grass, and you're already feeding them a decent pet food, you could always add a supplement, like Barley Dog (or similar products). It's powdered barley grass, so the pet can get all of the nutrients with (hopefully) none of the vomiting.
It never hurts to check with your vet too!
posted by sarahmelah at 7:46 AM on October 3, 2005

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