Today is #WorldVegetarianDay and unlike cats, dogs can survive on a plant based diet, but will generally prefer meat based foods.
Although vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming more popular, we have very little work demonstrating the efficacy and safety of feeding dogs this way, and a number of works have shown there to be a range of nutritional inadequacies and labelling discrepancies among commercial vegetarian and vegan diets. (E.g. Kanakubo, et al, 2015, 2017, Knight & Leitsberger, 2016, Zafalon et al, 2020)
There are lots of ways to add more plant based foods into your dog’s existing diet.
While the adding of vegetables and fruits is often recommended, how bioavailable the nutrition is to dogs will depend on how the foods have been handled, whether they have been cooked, frozen or served raw and the type of fruit or vegetable.
But, offering different food stuffs can be an enriching experience for dogs.
Add some plant based foods to supplement your dog’s diet, such as:
- nut butters
- coconut oil
- plant based baby foods
- cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes (always served cooked and never raw)
- gently cooked vegetables like squashes, spinach, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, sweetcorn (never let them have the cob)
- raw veg, that’s been frozen, can make great treats for many dogs; favourites include frozen carrots and broccoli, and frozen peas make great training treats and excellent for sniffing and treat dashes.
You can bump up the value of frozen veg by lightly dipping it in meat juiced (fat skimmed), shake it off and freeze it for a tasty and crunch treat.
- fruits like apples, banana, mango, melon or berries
Remove the seeds.
Mashed banana can make a great stuffable liner.
And taking out the middle of apples turns them into stuffable toys that can be lined and stuffed with all sorts of goodies!
- and, in smaller amounts, especially if your dog is already eating a commercial extruded (kibble) diet, you can add breakfast cereals (wholegrain, low sugar is best) and well cooked pasta or grains
And of course most dogs enjoy some light grazing on grasses too…for medicinal purposes, of course
What plant based foods do your dogs enjoy?
Test ’em out by taking part in #100daysofenrichment!