Focus Magazines The local magazines for Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon & Talgarth – Events, News and Advertising

Some questions are easy to answer in my job others are more tricky.

Concerned dog owner: Why is my dog scratching and biting out the fur over his tail?
Me:  Fleas.  
Owner:  No it can’t be, I’ve treated them with powder and a flea bomb.  
My response: They don’t work and anyway what’s a flea bomb?  Sounds dangerous and possibly illegal and I still bet you its fleas.  Oh look a flea. (smug look)
Client: Ok, Why does he eat grass every morning?
Me: Mmmmmm (embarrassed silence)

Dogs and cats commonly eat grass and no-one really knows why.  Most vets put forward one of a couple of theories so let’s look at these.

Firstly it may be normal, meaning that eating grass is part of a normal diet.  Naturalists tell us that the ancestors to dogs and cats – the wolf and wild cat have both been observed to eat grass ‘in the wild’.  Neither animal has the ability to digest grass so it seems strange it can be considered normal to eat something that has no nutritional value.  I suspect some animals just like the taste.  Certainly most animals prefer the fresh shoots and in my experience eat more grass in spring and summer.

Another theory is they eat grass to make themselves sick.  Apparently this is not true because in studies less than 10% of animals eating loads of grass resulted in an episode of vomiting.  Also grass has no action against worms we know about and no proven ability to reduce stomach acids which are theories based on the idea the animal is self-medicating.

The basic point is often we do not have the answers and medicine is an art form as well as a science.  Grass just makes it prettier.

Article by Ben Hynes, Vet at Abbey Vets, Abergavenny

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