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With more and more people going vegetarian, vegan or plant-based, many people question whether this is a lifestyle that is also feasible for their companion animals.
The answer? Sort of.
Dogs are omnivores and can thrive easily on a vegetarian diet. Eggs are a great source of protein, as are whole grains. Veganism for dogs is a bit more tricky and will require careful monitoring and instruction from your veterinarian. No matter what changes you plan on making in your dog’s diet, it is imperative that you consult your veterinarian first and make the transition slow so as to avoid upsetting your dog’s gastrointestinal system.
Cats, who are obligate carnivores, are a different story. Cats require several key nutrients that are only found in meat, including taurine. Most veterinarians do not recommend vegetarian or vegan diets for cats. A diet of lean meats like chicken and turkey is ideal to keep your cat healthy.
Even if you have no plans to change your pet to a vegetarian diet, both dogs and cats can benefit from incorporating some whole grains, eggs and vegetables into their diets! As many dog owners know, their pup will eat just about anything, but cats can be choosier about their food. Make sure any food items you give your pet are unseasoned and unsalted. Here are a few healthy, vegetarian snacks your pet might enjoy sharing with you!
Whole grains contain lots of essential nutrients and protein, and so are usually good to incorporate into your pet’s diet. Oats, brown rice, couscous are all good whole grains that are okay to mix cooked, mashed and cooled into your pet’s food on a regular basis.
Many dogs love raw carrots as a snack, and some cats enjoy steamed vegetables like broccoli or asparagus. Yes, asparagus. I was a victim of asparagus theft by a hungry cat when I was a child, but that’s a story for another day. If your cat doesn’t enjoy veggies, it’s no big deal – they aren’t something that should be a regular part of their diet, just an occasional treat if they enjoy it.
Hard boiled or scrambled eggs can be a super nutritious snack for your pet. Give them a spoonful with their regular food to give them an extra boost of protein.
Unsalted, sugar-free peanut butter is a great treat for dogs in small quantities. It’s excellent for giving dogs pills or distracting them during bath time. Mashed bananas are another good choice! However, peanut butter isn’t something that will interest your cat and isn’t all that good for them anyway. A small bit of plain yogurt is a good substitute for your kitty!
When thinking about your own diet, make sure you’re making healthy choices for your pet as well. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with the most complete information and guidance on what diet is best for your particular pet, depending on their age, weight and health. So whether or not you’re celebrating World Vegetarian Day, use this opportunity to consider what good things you put into your body and your pet’s!
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