Dear Tabby,

We’ve noticed that both our cat and dog often like to go outside and eat grass. Why do they do this and is it something we should be worried about?

Grazing on Grass in Garden Oaks

Dear Grazing on Grass,

What you’re seeing your cat and dog doing is normal behavior. Dogs and cats eat grass for a variety of reasons and, in small amounts, it shouldn’t cause a problem. But just for fun, let’s go over the whys of grass eating in pets.

Boredom

Many animals eat grass out of boredom. Perhaps it’s the fun of grazing as their ancestors did in the wild, or maybe it satisfies an urge to chew. Either way, it’s not uncommon for a pet to go outside and graze on grass if there’s nothing else exciting going on.

They enjoy the taste

Some animals seem to enjoy the flavor of grass and will choose some varieties over others. Make sure your pets aren’t ingesting too much, though, because this could cause some digestive issues.

An upset tummy

Many animals have the urge to eat grass when their stomachs are upset. Either the grass helps to soothe their stomach or the grass stimulates vomiting, but eating grass is often the way that many dogs and cats attempt to fix their own tummy problems.

When to be concerned

Mention the grass-eating to your vet if it’s happening all the time and seeming to cause your pets to have stomach problems. It might not hurt to inquire about a dietary deficiency in your pet’s diet that also might be contributing to this behavior. Additionally, please be mindful of chemicals that might be sprayed on your grass--either pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers--that might be harmful for your pets. Keep them out of that grass when it has been treated with chemicals.

Stopping the behavior

If you’re finding the grass-eating has become problematic, work on some behavior modifications to get your dog to stop. For instance, if you find his grass-eating is the result of boredom, look for ways to enrich his life with chew toys, puzzle toys or by simply playing with him more. You can also redirect his attention away from the grass by offering treats instead. Cats, on the other hand, are usually a bit better about self-regulating their grass consumption. However, if you worry your cat is eating grass or plants that might be harmful, consider picking your kitty up a little potted plot of grass from the pet store, made specifically for pets to enjoy in moderation.

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at deartabbyquestions@gmail.com.

Pet of the Week

POTW

Meet Larry. Larry is a 2-year-old tabby boy who loves all of the typical kitten activities: wrestling with his sibling, enjoying pets and purring like nobody’s business! Larry would make an easy, fun addition to most any home and has been fully vetted as well as neutered--the best kind of pet! To learn more about Larry, or to meet other special cats looking for wonderful homes, visit www.saveacatrescue.org.

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