Why Do Pets Eat Grass? Uncovering the Reasons Behind This Common Behavior

Written by: Care Yummers


Why Do Pets Eat Grass?

Have you ever caught your dog or cat munching on a patch of grass during your morning walk or backyard playtime and wondered why? You're not alone! Many pet parents scratch their heads over why their pets eat grass, sparking curiosity and concern over this common, yet often misunderstood behavior. Understanding the underlying reasons behind this grassy feast isn't just about quelling your curiosity—it's vital for ensuring your pet's health and happiness.

We dive into the intriguing world of why dogs eat grass, and we won't leave out our feline friends either, as we explore why cats may partake in this green snack too. We'll address the potential risks associated with grass consumption and provide insights into when you should be concerned about this behavior. By unpacking these aspects, you'll be well-equipped with the knowledge to support your pet's well-being, ensuring they remain happy, healthy, and as curious as ever.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Dogs often indulge in the act of eating grass, a behavior that puzzles many pet owners. This occurrence raises questions about whether it signifies a need for correction, an underlying health concern, or simply a peculiar preference of our canine friends.

Historical Perspective

The ancestry of modern dogs provides insight into their grass-eating habits. Originally, dogs in the wild balanced their diets by consuming all parts of their prey, including the stomach contents which often contained grass and plants. This provided a fairly balanced diet, fulfilling the need for fiber. Modern dogs, although not required to hunt for food, may still exhibit this scavenging behavior, reflecting their ancestral diet. Observations show that 11-47% of wolves , the ancestors of today's domestic dogs, consume grass. This indicates that eating grass is a natural and normal behavior rooted in a dog's evolutionary past.

Common Beliefs

There are several prevalent beliefs regarding why dogs eat grass. One common assumption is that dogs turn to grass to alleviate upset stomachs, consuming it with urgency and sometimes vomiting shortly after. However, studies reveal that less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass, and only 10% show signs of illness beforehand, suggesting that the majority of grass-eating dogs are not sick prior to ingesting grass and do not vomit as a result of their consumption.

Another belief is that dogs eat grass due to a nutritional deficiency. Yet, dogs on well-balanced diets should not be nutritionally deficient, and no scientific evidence supports the idea that dietary deficiencies drive this behavior. Instead, dogs may eat grass to fulfill a different digestive need, such as the ingestion of fiber. Grass can aid in the dog's ability to digest food and pass stool more smoothly.

Some speculate that boredom or anxiety may lead dogs to eat grass. Dogs left alone may nibble on grass to pass the time or attempt to get their owner's attention through this behavior. Anxious dogs might find comfort in eating grass, similar to how nervous people might chew their fingernails. Despite these speculations, the simplest explanation could be that dogs just enjoy the taste and texture of grass, especially during the spring when it is most fresh and appealing.

While the act of eating grass is not inherently dangerous for dogs, it is crucial for pet owners to ensure the grass their pets consume has not been treated with harmful chemicals. Eating grass can expose dogs to pesticides, fertilizers, and other products unsafe for ingestion. Observing and understanding the context of grass eating in dogs can help pet owners discern between normal behavior and signs that may indicate a need for veterinary attention.

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Behavioral Factors

Cats exhibit a variety of behaviors that may seem peculiar to their human companions, and eating grass is one of them. Despite being obligate carnivores, meaning their diet primarily consists of meat, cats are often observed nibbling on grass. This behavior is not driven by nutritional necessity but can be attributed to several factors. For one, some cats may eat grass as a form of natural stress relief or to alleviate boredom, especially if they spend a lot of time indoors without much stimulation. Additionally, the act of eating grass may be linked to a cat's instinctual hunting behavior. Consuming grass can help cats regurgitate indigestible material, such as feathers and bones from prey, which is a throwback to their wild ancestors who hunted for survival. Moreover, cats may simply enjoy the taste and texture of grass, indicating that this behavior is also influenced by individual preferences and personalities.

Health-Related Reasons

The consumption of grass by cats also has several health-related implications. One prevalent theory suggests that cats eat grass to induce vomiting and clear their system of indigestible materials, such as fur from their own grooming or parts of their prey. This is supported by the fact that cats lack the necessary enzymes to digest grass, leading to vomiting after ingestion. However, not all instances of grass eating result in vomiting, suggesting that there are additional health benefits to this behavior. Wheatgrass contains folic acid, a vital vitamin that aids in digestion, supports cell growth, and assists in the production of hemoglobin. Cats may seek out grass to supplement their diet with folic acid, especially if they sense a deficiency. Furthermore, grass can act as a natural laxative, helping to relieve constipation and ensure smooth passage of indigestible materials through the digestive tract. There is also speculation that eating grass might help reduce intestinal parasites, a behavior observed in wild animal species, although there is no direct evidence to support this in domestic cats.

While the behavior of cats eating grass might initially seem odd or concerning to pet owners, it is a complex behavior with roots in both instinctual habits and potential health benefits. Whether driven by behavioral factors or health-related reasons, it's clear that grass consumption is a natural and normal activity for cats, albeit one that should be monitored to ensure the grass they access is safe and free of harmful chemicals.

dog eating grass

Potential Risks of Grass Consumption

While eating grass is a common behavior in dogs and cats and often not harmful, there are certain conditions where this habit can pose risks to your pet's health. Understanding these risks can help you take preventive measures to ensure the safety of your furry friends.

Toxic Plants

Your garden or the local park might be home to various plants that, while beautiful, could be dangerous to your pets. Not all plants are safe, and some can cause severe health issues if ingested. For instance, while wild canines and felines may have the ability to detect poisonous plants, domestic dogs and cats often lack this ability or have it only to a limited extent . This means they might unknowingly consume toxic plants. Symptoms of poisoning from plant ingestion can include salivating, diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting, lethargy, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, increased heart rate, and even seizures.

Some common toxic plants include Aloe Vera, Azaleas/Rhododendrons, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, Ferns, Holly, Hyacinths, Lilies, and many more. If your pet ingests any of these, it is crucial to contact your local veterinarian or the APCC 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435 immediately.

Chemical Treatments

The use of pesticides and other chemical treatments on lawns and gardens presents another risk for pets that consume grass. These chemicals can cause a range of health issues, from minor irritations to serious conditions like canine malignant lymphoma. For example, the chemical herbicide 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) has been linked to a 70% higher risk for canine malignant lymphoma . Other common lawn pesticides and herbicides can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death.

Pets can ingest these chemicals not just by eating treated grass but also by licking their paws or fur after coming into contact with treated areas. It is essential to be cautious about where your pet is allowed to roam and consider using natural and organic lawn care methods to minimize these risks. If you suspect your pet has ingested toxic chemicals, seek veterinary care immediately.

By being aware of the potential risks associated with grass consumption, including the dangers of toxic plants and chemical treatments, you can take steps to protect your pets and ensure their well-being. Always monitor the areas where your pet has access to grass and consult with professionals about safe lawn care practices.

Should You Worry About Your Pet Eating Grass?

When to See a Vet

If you're puzzled by your dog's grass-eating habits, especially if they're accompanied by vomiting or other signs of distress , it may be wise to consult your veterinarian. While many dogs eat grass without adverse effects, sudden changes or increases in this behavior can sometimes signal underlying health issues. For instance, if your dog is eating grass and then showing symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy, these could be signs of gastrointestinal problems such as pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, if your dog has ingested grass treated with toxic chemicals , such as pesticides or herbicides, immediate veterinary attention is crucial to prevent potential poisoning.

Veterinary advice is also recommended if you suspect that your dog's diet might be lacking in essential fibers, vitamins, or minerals. Although dogs on well-balanced diets typically aren't nutritionally deficient, unusual eating habits like pica —consuming non-food items—can occasionally indicate dietary imbalances. Your vet can assess whether your dog's diet meets all their nutritional needs or if adjustments are necessary.

Monitoring & Prevention Tips

  1. Diet and Digestion: Ensure your dog's diet is rich in fiber, which can prevent the need for them to seek roughage from grass. Sometimes, simply switching to a higher fiber dog food can reduce their grass eating behavior.

  2. Behavioral Enrichment: Address potential boredom or anxiety that might be leading your dog to eat grass. Increase exercise, provide more interactive playtimes, and consider anxiety-reducing toys or garments if they seem nervous or stressed.

  3. Training and Attention: If your dog eats grass to get your attention, try spending more time with them or training them to engage in other behaviors. Using positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering treats or affection for obeying a 'leave it' command, can be effective.

  4. Safe Environment: Regularly check your yard for toxic plants, and ensure it's free from chemical treatments that could harm your pet if ingested. If you use fertilizers or pesticides, opt for pet-safe products and keep your dog off the lawn until it's safe.

  5. Regular Vet Check-ups: Even if your dog appears healthy, regular wellness exams can help catch and address any emerging health issues before they lead to more serious conditions. Discuss your dog's grass eating habits during these visits to rule out or address any potential concerns.

By understanding the reasons behind grass eating and implementing these monitoring and prevention strategies, you can help ensure that this natural behavior doesn't turn into a health hazard for your furry friend.


Through exploring the multifaceted reasons behind why dogs and cats consume grass, from ancestral habits to seeking out dietary supplements or even as a behavioral quirk, it's clear that this natural behavior warrants a nuanced understanding rather than concern. This comprehension not only dispels myths but also equips pet owners with the knowledge to better support their pet’s health and well-being. Recognizing when grass-eating behavior is benign and when it might signal a deeper issue is essential, and ensuring that our pets have access to safe, non-toxic grassy areas plays a significant role in their overall health.

In caring for our pets, taking proactive steps to cater to their dietary and emotional needs is paramount. Incorporating Yummers Pets Digestive Aid supplement in your pet's diet can offer additional gut support, complementing their nutritional intake to promote overall health. Regular veterinary check-ups, along with mindful observation of your pet's behavior and dietary habits, are integral in maintaining their well-being. By nurturing an understanding of their curious grass-eating habits and ensuring their environment is safe and toxin-free, parents can ensure their pets lead happy, healthy lives.


Why do cats and dogs consume grass?

Cats and dogs may eat grass due to a lack of fiber, minerals, or enzymes in their diet. Eating plants can help them digest their food more quickly and improve their overall gut health.

What does it signify when a dog frequently eats grass?

If a dog eats grass often, it could be a sign of boredom or anxiety, similar to how some people bite their nails when stressed. If there are no signs of digestive distress, the grass-eating might be more about their psychological state.

What does it indicate if a dog eats grass frantically?

When a dog eats grass frantically, it may be trying to alleviate stomach upset or clear a blockage in its digestive system. This behavior is driven by their natural instinct, as eating grass can induce vomiting to relieve discomfort or may provide the fiber needed to facilitate bowel movements.

How can I stop my dog from eating grass?

Engaging your dog in activities such as playing with a Frisbee or providing them with a sturdy chew toy can help prevent them from eating grass. Additionally, if the behavior is linked to a nutritional deficiency, switching to a high-quality, high-fiber dog food might resolve the issue.