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Home / Articles / Columnists / Healthy Living /  Healthy, Plant- Based Pups!
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Monday, July 8,2019

Healthy, Plant- Based Pups!

By Karen Ellis-Ritter  

Can dogs eat a plant-based diet?

 

People are often concerned about whether it’s safe for dogs to eat an exclusively plant-based diet. Dogs are omnivores, so as long as they are getting their proper nutrients, the source does not need to come from animals. If planned thoughtfully, it is not only possible, but they can absolutely thrive!

There are some excellent plant-based dog foods on the market, including V-Dog (v-dog.com), Natural Balance Vegetarian (Vegan) Formula (naturalbalanceinc.com/dog-formulas/vegetarian), Evolution Dog Food (petfoodshop.com/ product-category/evolution-dog-food/), and Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan (halopets.com/ dog/vegan). For healthy hydration, it is best to offer a mix of wet and dry, adding a little water to form a gravy consistency.

If you wish to add some nutrition enhancers, there are several green “superfood” powders on the market, including spirulina, chlorella, moringa, wheat grass, barley grass, spinach and kale.

Several are geared specifically towards our canine companions, but you can also use one that is meant for humans and adjust the serving by weight (the latter tends to be more cost-effective). It is also great to add some organic milled flax, flax seed oil or hempseed oil to their food for a radiant coat and healthy essential fatty acids, as well as a probiotic supplement.

Dogs also should be offered a variety of real fruits and vegetables. Nobody should live on a diet of exclusively packaged and processed foods. When introducing any new food, start with a small amount and only add one thing at a time, so you can observe how their bodies react to it. Notice if there are any changes in bowel movements or behaviors.

Dogs can eat and enjoy bananas, blueberries, broccoli and cauliflower (they often love the stalks and will chew on an entire stalk the way they would a bone!), Brussels sprouts, cabbage (they love the cores), cantaloupe, carrots, cranberries, cucumbers, green beans, mangoes, peaches, pears, pineapples, seedless watermelon, apples, raspberries, strawberries, pumpkin, and cooked sweet potatoes. They can eat grains like cooked oats and millet. Dogs also tend to do well with small amounts of cooked beans mixed in their food, such as lentils, chickpeas, soy beans, and even tofu (raw or cooked)! You can mix in some nutrient-packed, fibrous seeds such as chia, sunflower, hemp seeds or cooked quinoa. Sunflower butter, almond butter and peanut butter, in moderation, are also healthy treats.

A great habit to start is using these whole foods as rewards in place of packaged dog treats. They will get far more nutritional value this way and you can encourage good behaviors as often as you like, without worrying about the weight gain that often comes with too many treats. Note: If you are looking for more traditional dog treats, some of the brands mentioned above offer plantbased dog treats as well. Trader Joe’s even carries a plant-based dog treat “Grain-Free Dog Treats with Peanut Butter and Banana”.

Please be aware that there are some fruits and veggies to AVOID feeding your dog, because they are toxic to canines, such as grapes, cherries, avocado, and onions. Tomatoes are fine, but absolutely NO stems or vine leaves, as the vine is toxic to dogs. Chocolate/cacao is also highly toxic to dogs and should not be left anywhere that is accessible to them.

As with caring for any little person (human or fur baby), make sure they get adequate exercise, fresh air, sunshine and lots of love! They should also have an annual exam with a trustworthy vet who is supportive and educated about their diet. Lastly (but absolutely NOT least), if you are looking to bring a new dog into your home, please adopt! There are millions of lovable, beautiful and worthy animals who desperately need homes. You can search by preferences of breed, size, location and age on PetFinder.com.

 

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