Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm a Vegetarian

I’m a vegetarian and so are my dogs.  Well, sometimes. Keen to hear the command “clean-up” which entails appearing immediately at the site of dropped food; Doggie, Daisee and Pumpkin often find themselves in a vegetarian food situation.   Frozen green beans, sweet potatoes, and carrots are often given as treats, along with a myriad of other fruits and veggies which are sometimes mixed with their dry kibble.  Doggie, a Red Heeler mix, will “clean-up” most veggies, with the exception of leafy greens.  He will always give them a chance, but inevitably spits them out in a soggy lump.  Daisee (Lab) and Pumpkin (Lab mix) seem to enjoy veggie snacks under obligation or jealousy.  They won’t let Doggie get all the goods.  Instead, they’ll muscle through that carrot, chewing as if they have a grass burr caught in their cheek, swallow it down, and ask for more… only if Doggie is.  Strategically mixing fruit and veggies with their kibble seems to go over better.  Beans and canned pumpkin go down the hatch with everything else.

There does seem to be some (often heated) debate regarding the classification of dogs as carnivores or omnivores.   Of the order Carnivora, and of wolf ancestry, it seems an obvious conclusion that “carnivores” are the clear winner.  Teeth types, chewing technique and digestive anatomy all point in favor of a carnivorous bias.  Doggie, Dasiee, and Pumpkin all have a much higher salivation (aka drool) response when a meat treat is approaching, leaving no doubt their preference.  Research does suggest that dogs are able to digest and remain healthy with the addition of plant nutrition in their diets.  Canned pumpkin does wonders for certain back-end digestive issues.  Flax seed keeps bones strong and coats shiny.  Green beans provide filling sustenance, and are a healthy kibble substitute for doggies that may be somewhat rotund.  Other plant-based foods that most agree are safe for canine ingestion include broccoli, blueberries, celery, apples (minus the seeds), sweet potatoes, and carrots.

 You should always be mindful of what, and how much, you feed to your dog.  While the omnivorous nature of canines may be up for debate, certain people foods are not.  The Humane Society of the United States keeps a good list of foods (plant-based and otherwise) that should always be off limits.

 Try adding some produce to your dog’s regular diet routine.  They might be pleasantly surprised!

Did someone say, "Veggies?"

Written by Lori Burkhardt- HOTLR volunteer, former foster mom, adopter, and dog lover

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