Vegetarian Dogs and Cats
vegetarians and vegans feed healthful, meatless diets
to their companion animals. Studies have shown that the
ailments associated with meat consumption for humans such
as allergies, cancer, and kidney, heart, and bone problems,
also affect many nonhumans.
and cats’ nutritional needs are easily met with a vegan diet
and certain supplements.
people wonder if it’s cruel to omit meat from a dog or cat’s
diet. Vegetarian or vegan dogs and cats enjoy their food and
good health, and a vegetarian diet for your companion animal
is ethically consistent with animal rights philosophy. Animals
in the wild commonly eat quite a lot of vegetable matter.
Besides, to feed them the meat they would naturally eat, you
would have to serve them whole mice or allow them to hunt
for themselves, an option that is unfair to native species
of birds and other small animals, since companion cats and
dogs have been removed from the food chain and have advantages
that free-roaming animals lack.
Making vegetarian food for dogs is easy because dogs are omnivorous
and usually hearty eaters. It is important to follow directions
carefully. If you make any changes in ingredients, make sure
that you do not change the nutritional balance of the recipe.
If a dog receives too little protein, calcium, or vitamin
D, his or her health could be jeopardized.
some dogs need two amino acids called L-carnitine and taurine,
which are not generally added to commercial dog foods and
can be insufficient in homemade dog food as well. A deficiency
of these nutrients can cause dilated cardiomyopathy, a serious
illness in which the heart becomes large and flabby and can
no longer function. This illness generally strikes middle-aged
dogs that are deficient in L-carnitine or taurine because
of breed, size, individual genetic makeup, or diet. Supplementary
L-carnitine and taurine can be bought at your local health
food store. (And Vegedog supplement now contains taurine.)
are often more finicky than dogs, and their nutritional requirements
are more complicated. Cats need a considerable amount of vitamin
A, which is important in the production of carotene. Insufficient
amounts may cause loss of hearing, as well as problems with
skin, bones, and intestinal and reproductive systems. Cats
also need taurine. A feline lacking taurine can lose eyesight
and could develop cardiomyopathy. Commercial pet food companies
often add taurine obtained from molluscs.
and cats who are eating only cooked or processed food also
benefit from the addition of digestive enzymes to their food.
These are obtainable through animal supply catalogs and health
food stores. Any raw vegetables in a dog’s diet must be grated
or put through a food processor to enhance digestibility.
To help with the adjustment to a vegetarian or vegan diet,
start by mixing the vegetarian food in with what you usually
serve. Gradually change the proportion until there is no meat
left. If your efforts are met with resistance, tempt your
animal friends by adding soy milk, nutritional yeast, spirulina,
oil (temporarily), tomato sauce, avocado, catnip (for cats),
garlic powder, or other seasonings, and by serving it warm.
Most dogs love spaghetti. Many cats like melon pieces and
nutritional yeast, and most love mashed chickpeas (garbanzo
beans). If your companion animals are addicted to supermarket
pet food, it may take a while for them to adapt. Don’t be
alarmed if they skip a meal at first; in the wild, animals
often go on fasts.
switching dogs or cats to a vegetarian diet, monitor them
closely to make sure their new diet agrees with them, especially
if they are still puppies or kittens. Watch for chronic gastrointestinal
problems, and note any new health problems. Most dogs' and
cats’ health improves on a vegetarian diet, but occasionally
an animal may not thrive, so use common sense if this occurs.
Dog Biscuit Recipe
whole wheat flour
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
dry ingredients. Add approximately 3 cups water. Knead into
a pliable dough. Roll out to 1/8" thickness. Cut into
desired shapes. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350°F. (Important:
After turning off oven, leave biscuits in the oven overnight
or for an 8-hour period so they become hard and crunchy.)
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