Can my pets be vegetarian too?
You love animals. That's why you're a vegetarian and that's why your furry four-legged friends are fully-fledged members of the family... But can cats, dogs and other pets be healthy on vegetarian diets too?
The short answer here is yes, dogs can thrive and be healthy on vegetarian diets. While dogs belong to the order Carnivora, they are actually omnivores just like us. So, like us, man's best friend has the ability to get all the amino acids they need without eating meat.
"Being a lacto-ovo vegetarian does not present many nutritional challenges for for dogs. In fact, eggs have the highest biological value of all the protein sources commonly used in pet foods." explains Dr. Jennifer Coates of PetMD.
The issue of veggie cats is a little more controversial. Unlike people and dogs, cats are not omnivores - your fluffy little kitty is actually a pure carnivore. They meet their nutritional needs by consuming other animals and have a higher protein requirement than many other mammals. Cats get certain key nutrients from meat—including taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B12—that can’t be sufficiently obtained from plant-based foods.
Some sources will say that cats can indeed have healthy lives on vegetarian diets but given the controversy, is it a risk worth taking for Mr. Whiskers? We think not.
If you absolutely can't stand the idea of feeding your pet meat every day, then there are plenty of naturally vegetarian animals out there that you can adopt instead. My rabbit Kallow and I used to sit together in the garden, munching carrots and celery sticks like the happy herbivores we were. Like mother, like son.
Some other vegetarian animals you can have as pets include:
- Guinea pigs
- Small birds
- Small fish
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