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Many dogs and cats eat grass because they truly like it. There is however, an evolutionary strategy and instinct in many animals for them to eat grass to make them vomit. This is particularly important if you have eaten a “bad” piece of meat, or sick bird/ mouse, or swallowed a chunk of bone. Eating excess grass may not always have the desired result of vomiting the offending object up. Sometimes there is no object to vomit up and other times the object has passed beyond the point that it can be brought up.
If your dog or cat continues to want to eat grass and vomits only food or fluid, this may be a sign to contact your veterinarian right away.
Other problems with grass ingestion, particularly in the spring and summer, occur when many people/municipalities spray their grass with fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. This was the particular problem that we suspect happened to a Labrador named Lexus.
Lexus was taken for a walk by her “Dad” in an area of Delta that had been sprayed with a fungicide – Fixed Copper. The municipality had put up warning signs, perhaps too small and of course Lexus did not read this warning and ate grass anyway. It was not until Lexus began to show signs of illness that her family realized it may have been the sprayed grass that was causing her problems.
Lexus’s symptoms started slowly with 3 days of soft stools, abdominal gas, continued grass eating and then the vomiting began. She began vomiting all night with the vomit becoming blood tinged and progressing to very bloody. She was brought into the hospital right away by her family. Lexus’s stool turned to a very foul bloody diarrhea that next morning as well. This particular fungicide, (fixed copper) causes severe irritation (to the point of bleeding) of the stomach and intestines.
Thankfully with a day and a half of hospitalization, including intravenous fluids and appropriate medications Lexus went home. She had to continue a special diet and medications for about 2 weeks but she has recovered fully.
In general if your dog or cat has diarrhea for more than 1 day or if there is blood in the stool, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Vomiting more than a couple of times or again, if it becomes blood tinged should be the signal to get your furry friend into their doctor sooner rather than later.