Vegetables For Your Pets…Seriously?
8 July, 2013
Vegetables in your dog’s diet and minor amounts in your cat’s diet can be great for their health and provide a rich supply of nutrients, enzymes, healthy fiber and antioxidants. In the wild, dogs and cats would have acquired plant foods through the semi-digested remnants in the stomachs of their prey; vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
As we pet owners are starting to move away from toxic, poor grade and species-inappropriate commercial pet food, natural, holistic, homemade and raw diets are being favored, which can include healthy plant-based ingredients (not grains however, which are used as cheap fillers in commercial products and ill-suited the physiology of cats and dogs). The beauty with homemade meals is that you can ensure fresh quality ingredients and easily incorporate vegetables and fruit. You can also see, first hand, what goes in your pet’s food.
How many vegetables should you give your dog or cat?
Where dogs can eat around 30% of plant foods in their daily diet, cats only require around 5-10%. With both dogs and cats, make sure that the vegetables are blended well as they do not easily digest cellulose. This also makes it easy to mix the vegetables with the rest of the homemade meal. As cats only require a very small proportion of veggies in their meal, you can blend veggies and freeze the mix in an ice-cube tray, defrosting one cube a day for their meals.
Include a range of vegetables and always aim to include something green. Green vegetables contain chlorophyll which is cleansing and detoxifying. Chlorophyll is a great liver ally, assisting in the removal of toxins and heavy metals from the body and also shows anti-carcinogenic potential. You can use throw away vegetable parts such as outer leaves, ends and stems or left over cooked vegetables that you don’t consume. Raw is always preferable however as nutrient and enzyme content is maximum.
You can supplement your dog or cat’s diet with vegetables such as kelp or alfalfa (the latter more suited for dogs) and algae such as chlorella and spirulina. These are very alkalizing however and as dogs and cats in particular require an acidic diet, only very small amounts are advisable. Always research dosage amounts before giving any kind of supplements.
You can experiment with most vegetables. Try any of the following: carrots, celery, chard, spinach, avocados, kale, squash, watercress, cabbage, turnips, broccoli, peas, green beans, cauliflower and asparagus. Carrots and sweet potatoes are higher in sugar content and should be used in smaller proportion to any above-ground vegetable choices. You can add some occasional fruit also such as blueberries, bananas, apples, papaya or pear.
Remember that raw onions are not friendly on your pet’s digestive system and can be dangerous to their health so should be avoided. Garlic is also a health risk for cats, though minor amounts occasionally in your dog’s diet may serve as a natural flea repellent.
Nuts and seeds can also be a valuable addition to your pet’s diet, containing healthy oils (walnuts and flaxseeds are particularly high in omega-3 oils), as well as vitamin E and minerals such as selenium (a powerful antioxidant particularly high in Brazil nuts).
As always, if you want to change your pet’s diet to a healthy, holistic, species-appropriate diet or are embarking on a natural homemade or raw food diet, consult your veterinarian first and your cat or dog next. If they don’t like eating it, what’s the point! Make sure that you keep your pet’s diet well rounded and he or she will thrive.
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