All of our pets have habits, some more baffling than others. Why, for example, does one of your cats like to lurk on the top of your bookshelves after dinner every evening while the other cuddles on your lap? Why does your dog nudge you for bedtime around 7 PM every night? I have a friend whose dog only barks when Ben Affleck appears on their television set. Why? Do we have a cat sentry, a sleepy dog with an incredibly accurate internal time clock, and a canine film critic? All possibilities, but most likely these are simply quirky habits of those individual pets.
A Nearly Universal Quirk
However, there is one habit that is nearly ubiquitous with our canine and feline friends and has puzzled dog and cat owners for years. Why do our pets eat grass? Dogs and cats are both carnivores and should have no need to consume grass nor does either species have the specialized system to digest grass. It simply passes through their systems. Yet most of us have witnessed our pets munching on our lawns at some time or another. So the burning question of the moment is: Why do our dogs and cats eat grass?
Truthful disclaimer: the dogs and cats are not talking so no one really knows, but below are some of the most plausible theories.
Theories to Chew On: Why Do They Eat Grass?
Our Pets are Nutritionists
World-renowned veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter says our dog’s and cat’s kibble/canned food diets are so low in nutritional value that our pets are desperately trying to ingest needed nutrients from an available source, grass, which is high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is nutrient rich and can act as a detoxifier for the liver and digestive system and helps fight infections.
Which brings us to our second reason for grass eating: your pet may be feeling sick and instinctively realizes the healing and immune boosting properties of grass. Or if your pet is having digestive problems, the fiber in grass can act as a laxative, helping normalize the bowel. Often pets vomit soon after consuming grass, ridding themselves of hairballs or something inedible. Some observers think our pets eat grass as a method of purging internal parasites. All are interesting theories but unproven.
For the Thrill
Maybe your dog simply enjoys eating grass and your kitty likes it, too. If your pets are eating an all-cooked, dead food diet, the sensation of live food in their mouths may be an instinctive longing. The live enzymes may trigger ancestral sensations that are pleasurable. Some people have suggested that eating grass is an attention-getting ploy that our pets use so that we will notice them and react to them.
If you worry about your pet consuming pesticides along with their grass snack, you might want to add some chlorophyll-rich alternatives to their diet. A few suggestions would be parsley (high in vitamin A), cabbage (high in vitamin C and immune enhancing), green beans (high in vitamin A) and sugar peas (high in vitamin K). All should be very finely ground and fed intermittently.
Wild dogs and cats have been observed eating grass so the behavior may be perfectly normal though not fully understood at this time. For normal, healthy dogs and cats occasional grass eating is not worrisome. But please, if your cat or dog confides the secret for this curious behavior to you, share it with the rest of us and end the rampant speculation. Then again, maybe they just like to keep us guessing, the little darlings.
By Carol Kendig