Cats and dogs are not the most discerning about nibbling items they find on the floor and the sidewalk, or in the trash. Pets often eat weird things, from socks and strings, to rocks and rings. One common snack that many pets enjoy is grass. Vibrant, tender grass shoots have many appealing attributes that attract cats and dogs alike. However, when you spot your four-legged friend mowing down your lawn, a multitude of questions likely run through your mind. Our Roosevelt Animal Hospital team answers those questions to help ease your concerns about your grass-eating pet.

Why does my pet eat grass?

Your furry pal likely has a unique reason for eating grass. However, most pets eat grass for these common reasons:

  • Nutritional benefits — Although your pet is not a cow who subsists on grazing, they can still benefit from the nutrition grass provides. The basis of your pet’s diet should be a balanced, high-quality food formulated for their life stage and breed. However, when they nibble a bit of grass, your pet gets a nutritional boost. Grass is rich in protein, fiber, lipids, water-soluble carbohydrates, and various vitamins and minerals. 
  • Digestive push — Grass’s fiber content provides an extra push to the gastrointestinal (GI) system, forcing out indigestible material. Because cats and dogs lack the enzymes necessary for digesting grass, they will either vomit or have a bowel movement shortly after consuming a large amount. Once the cause of your pet’s upset stomach or flatulence has been forced out because of grass’s emetic and laxative effects, your furry pal will likely appear to feel comfortable again. 
  • Boredom buster — If your pet does not receive adequate environmental enrichment, social interaction, or mentally stimulating activities, they will entertain themself. If a dog is left to play on their own in the yard, they may turn to grazing for something to do. Likewise, if a cat has access to grass and other plants within the home, they will likely taste test vegetation to occupy their time.
  • Taste and texture — Your pet may simply like grass’s flavor and texture. Domesticated dogs’ wild relatives often eat the vegetable matter in their prey’s intestinal tract, and cats are drawn to cat grass and catnip. Based on canine and feline behavior, grass is likely a tasty snack.

Is grass safe for pets to eat?

Grass is generally considered safe for cats and dogs to eat, but certain conditions can make doing so risky or downright dangerous. Grass-eating risks include:

  • Herbicide ingestion
  • Fertilizer ingestion
  • Insecticide ingestion
  • Poisonous plant ingestion
  • Parasite ingestion
  • GI blockage
  • Allergies

Should I offer grass to my pet?

If you want to offer grass to your pet, go ahead. However, pets typically receive the nutrition they need from a well-balanced diet, and various activities, food puzzles, and toys can fulfill their entertainment and enrichment needs. However, if you want to add some roughage to your furry pal’s diet, offer them the following pet-safe grasses:

  • Wheatgrass
  • Cat grass
  • Fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Ryegrass

What should I avoid when offering grass to my pet?

When you give your pet grass, ensure you keep their health and safety in mind. To avoid problems, follow these tips:

  • Treated lawns — Lawns treated with fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides are poisonous to your pet. Even if you do not treat your own lawn with chemicals, your neighbors may, and water runoff can spread toxins to your yard. To ensure the grass your pet eats is safe, grow your own in a pot indoors.
  • Excessive amounts — If your pet eats large amounts of grass, the fibers can wad up in their GI tract and cause a blockage that requires surgical removal. In addition, all that extra roughage can cause your pet to have excessive vomiting or bowel movements, or they may become constipated. Only give your pet occasional, small amounts of grass as a special snack.
  • Toxic plants — Although your pet may enjoy nibbling on tender grass shoots, this does not mean all vegetation is pet-safe. Do not allow your pet to munch on lilies, azaleas, chrysanthemums, pothos ivy, or other hazardous plants. Ensure your pet does not have access to toxic plants, which you must keep out of your home and yard. Only provide your pet with safe grass options for a green snack.

Pets who accidentally graze on treated grass or dangerous plants can be poisoned. If your four-legged friend develops poisoning signs, such as excessive drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea, contact our Roosevelt Animal Hospital team.