Eating Grass and Mushrooms

Q. My dogs like to eat grass and mushrooms. Is this a problem?

A. There is no definitive answer as to why dogs and cats eat grass. Three veterinarians will most likely give three answers. Theories range from their stomach is upset to the need for vegetation in their diets. The fact is grass has no nutritional value for pets. The most plausible explanation is that it is a habit dating back to their ancestors where a certain amount of roughage was required for normal bowel activity. Present-day dog and cat foods contain varying amounts of fiber making grass eating unnecessary. It is most likely an instinct that has just not faded away with time.

It is true that too much grass can be irritating to the stomach lining, which can cause vomiting. Although some dogs enjoy eating grass, it is best to discourage them from grazing like cows.

Some mushrooms can indeed be very toxic to pets. Most cause gastric irritation resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Others can cause damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. In some cases seizures and death can occur. The best advice is to identify the species of mushrooms in your garden. If they are safe for human consumption, they will not be harmful to your pet. Remove all poisonous and unidentifiable mushrooms from your pets’ environment. Cats are finicky and less likely to ingest mushrooms.

The potential for ingesting such toxic agents is another reason to keep your dog from roaming freely.

Owners should constantly inspect their pets’ outdoor environment for potential toxins.

These include garbage, dead animals, dangerous mushrooms and toxic plants. Remember pets, especially dogs, are non- discriminating when it comes to potential food. Items such as rotting garbage and dead birds may appear disgusting to us, but they can be filet mignon to some pets.

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