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D2003-33

Dear Daisy Dog

My dog eats grass. He doesn’t vomit or have diarrhea, and he’s energetic and otherwise healthy. Is this a sign of illness, as people tell me?

Daisy Responds

I love to eat grass, especially if the leaves are soft, long and wet from a recent rain. I think it’s an acquired taste – just like some humans like salads and others don’t – and not a sign of disease.

However, I notice that my brother Jack vomits after he eats grass. I’m not sure whether he eats the grass because he feels nauseous, or if the sharp edges of the grass irritate his stomach and cause him to vomit.

Dogs who eat grass may ingest microscopic parasites, some of which can be transmitted to humans. The most serious of these are roundworms and hookworms, which can cause blindness, seizures and organ damage in humans.

Dogs who eat grass may also ingest lawn chemicals, some of which increase the risk of cancer. For example, lawn treatment with the herbicide 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) significantly increases the risk of lymphosarcoma in dogs who live on the property, even if they don’t consume the grass.

Dogs who eat grass should only partake in their own yards – and only if you’re certain the grass is free of chemicals and excrement – and they should take a monthly parasite preventive like Heartgard Plus, Interceptor or Sentinel.

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