10.13.2010

Vegetarian Pets?

This is something that has always interested me.......can my dog (Zoe) and my cat (Ziggy) be vegetarians?

With some help from the Planet Green website, here is what I learned:

In regards to dogs, they are omnivores (an animal that eats either plants or animals). They are able to maintain a healthy, balanced diet from either source or from just one of the sources. So it IS possible for a dog to be completely healthy by eating a totally vegetarian (even vegan) diet. I consulted numerous other websites, and this seems to be the consensus.

If your dog goes vegetarian, he can contribute to "greening" the planet in these ways:
-Prevent soil erosion and pollution
-Reduce carbon emissions from meat production
-Cut back on cruelty from factory farms
-Help redistribute grains and soybeans that go to livestock
-Reduce waste from farms (i.e. methane gas)

When you change your dogs diet, it's best to do it gradually so that his tummy and his taste buds adjust to the new food. Vegetarian dog food can be found at specialty pet stores, natural foods stores, as well as online. Also, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to be sure that your dog is well-suited for a vegetarian diet and does not have any health problems that would interfere with a change in diet.

In regards to cats I first referred to the Vegetarian Society website. They state that cats are regarded as obligate carnivores, this means that in the wild they could not survive without eating meat to obtain all the nutrients they require. However, for the domestic cats there are commercial vegetarian foods available that contain synthetic versions of essential nutrients (i.e. taurine and other amino acids). Overall though, it is a bit tricky to switch your cat to a vegetarian diet because they require so many different nutrients in their diet. In fact, most websites I perused strongly discouraged people from putting cats on a vegetarian diet.

So it seems that for cats, there is more of a debate as to if they can live a healthy life on a vegetarian/vegan diet. Like any major decision for your feline/canine companion, be sure to do your due diligence and consult multiple sources for opinions.

In case you're wondering what we feed Zoe and Ziggy, they both get a Holistic (but not vegetarian) food from Trader Joes. They both gobble it up and seem to love the taste. And I feel good that I'm giving them a more natural/holistic diet than people who feed their pets more commercial pet foods that is full of so much crap. So, no vegetarian diet for my pets at this time!

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