Vegetarian Pets?

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Good morning!  It’s been a busy morning in Caitlin land. I’ve already put in some hours at my part-time job and now I need to plow through a lot of blog and Summit-related work before 4 PM.  Then, I’m going out with friends! YAY!

 

I woke up this morning and was so happy to find that my knees were not sore at all!  Granted, my quads and butt hurt like the dickens, but that’s to be expected after running 7.0 miles.  :)  But NO knee pain!

 

Breakfast:

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Granola, Oikos yogurt, blueberries.

 

Lunch:

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Leftover pizza, sugar snap peas, and watermelon.

 

The addition of fruit + veggie really filled me up.  1 slice of pizza doesn’t do it for me alone.

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My pizza runneth over! šŸ™‚

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Vegetarian Pets?

 

I was preparing the dog’s food last week when I thought, "Why am I feeding Maggie and James meat if we don’t eat it ourselves?"  Especially because we don’t eat meat for moral reasons (more so than health issues or preference issues) — aren’t we just contributing to the problem by purchasing traditional dog food?

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Ironically, my mother is reading a book right now about Vegetarian/Vegan Pets and says it’s really interesting.  The book (I’ll ask her for the title) talks a lot about the supply chain for pet food, which we already know has a lot of safety issues.  It also addresses how traditional pet food includes "meat by products," which can include diseased or decomposing meat (eww).

 

I did some quick research online and apparently it is possible to have vegetarian dogs, because they are natural omnivores.   Cats, however, cannot be vegetarians (they can go blind).

 

Are there any vegetarian pets out there?  What do you feed them? What supplements do they need (I know they would need B12… just like me!)?  (Obviously, I would talk to my vet before doing changing the dogs’ diet like this.  I’m just curious to know if anyone else does it!)

{ 53 comments }

 

  • Pam (Highway to Health) August 1, 2009, 9:06 am

    Unfortunately, I don't know much about the topic but I wanted to let you know YOU HAVE THE CUTEST DOGS EVER! It's so funny they pose for photos – love it!

  • Amanda August 1, 2009, 9:08 am

    A friend of mine used to feed her dog green beans as directed by her veterinarian to encourage her dog to lose weight. Another friend feeds her dogs (great danes) carrots and similar snacky veggies as well as apples.

  • KatieF August 1, 2009, 9:23 am

    Caitlin–I'd like to applaud you for doing your research before putting your pets on a vegetarian diet. Be sure to ask your vet about vitamin B12 (it's only available from meat food sources). My dog is not a vegetarian, but he does have congenital B12 malabsorption syndrome, and I've been learning recently how important B12 is (a deficiency can lead to serious malnourishment). Whatever you decide, good luck!

  • Colleen August 1, 2009, 9:23 am

    This is such an interesting topic and I'll definitely be checking back to see the responses, and I would love to feed my pets a vegetarian diet as well…vegetarianism and vegan lifestyles intrigue me…I often wonder if those same people own leather couches, shoes, etc. Maybe that's another question you could pose?

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 1, 2009, 9:25 am

    collen – i think the thing is that all vegetarians have to deal with being hypocrites on some level – because no one is perfect. like yes, i feel bad about eating dairy, but not bad enough to stop. same thing with leather, etc. it's an interesting conumdrum. i think you have to do what is morally best for you, and that doesnt necessarily mean being perfect.

  • Lori August 1, 2009, 9:26 am

    Dogs are okay to have a more varied diet with veggies, but cats absolutely must have meat or they will become malnourished (blindness is a big problem when people try to make cats vegetarians).

    I do think it takes a lot of research to make sure that what you feed your pets gives them the nutrients that they need, which can be different from people nutrients.
    There certainly are more reputable pet food companies out there that you could research.

    I love your doggies, too – so cute!

  • randomlymikey August 1, 2009, 9:26 am

    i do not have any information on the subject, unfortunately. but i do know it can be done. i have known a couple people with veggie dogs. just be sure to ge the whole run down with the vet. they might have vitamins and stuff they will need to take?
    your eats look very tasty today.

  • erinbee August 1, 2009, 9:48 am

    ah. i never would have
    thought about this.
    unfortunately i am
    currently sans dog. :/

    [thankfully we can live
    vicariously though james
    and maggie. lovelove.]

  • Colleen August 1, 2009, 9:51 am

    Oh no, I wasn't judging at all! I'm an aspiring vegetarian myself…but when we go look at couches I worry about buying leather and whether or not that qualifies…it just makes me wonder how others feel. One of my favorite coats is a leather jacket I bought years ago…and I both love it and feel repulsed by myself about it. šŸ™

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 1, 2009, 9:54 am

    colleen- i didnt think you were judging, i was just making a generally broad statement LOL i was actually agreeing with you. no worries šŸ™‚

  • She-Fit August 1, 2009, 9:57 am

    Awh, your pics of the two dogs are way too cute! ! !

  • Colleen August 1, 2009, 10:02 am

    Ahhhh, I have final-exam-brain and now that I re-read your comment you were agreeing with me. I'm sorry Caitlin!

    I think for me buying leather products now would be a no-go, but I don't really see the point in getting rid of the things that I already own. There, I feel better now that I let myself off the hook! šŸ™‚

  • Erica August 1, 2009, 10:07 am

    hmm interesting. I don't have a lot of knowledge about this, but please let us know what you find out! Glad you're having a nice Saturday so far! Enjoy the rest.

  • Serena August 1, 2009, 10:08 am

    I don't know anything about veggie dogs (well except the kind made for human consumption!) but think it's great you're looking into this. I think your comment below about doing what's right for you it spot on. But when you say sometimes that doesn't mean being "perfect" I think that you're assuming there is a perfect and that you're not meeting that standard. And I would argue that even though we all can always do better, what's right for you IS perfect.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 1, 2009, 10:08 am

    serena- ooo i like the way you think!

  • Amanda August 1, 2009, 10:41 am

    My dog should be eating a raw food diet, but I don't have time for that. He has pancreas issues and cannot digest food without special powder mixed into his food.

    My dog eats an all-natural dog food though… sweet potato and fish. I am thinking about getting sweet potato chews (like rawhide, except sweet potatoes) for him because those are really good for his issues.

    B12 helps dogs with digestion. They recommend B12 shots for dogs with my dog's condition, but I have not done that for him. He seems to be okay with his food right now.

    Also, I work at a vet clinic, so I can always find out stuff for ya!

  • recipesforcreativity August 1, 2009, 10:44 am

    That is so cool – I'll be interested in learning what you find out. I have cats, and apparently if you feed them a vegetarian diet you can kill them, so I won't be going down that road, but I'd also heard you could feed dogs a veggie diet. I hope to get a dog in the next couple of years, and it would be great to make it a veggie dog; I imagine the meat used in dog food is disgusting.

  • heyitstay August 1, 2009, 10:54 am

    Congrats on now knee pain!!! That is wonderful. I'm so happy for you šŸ™‚

  • Quinn August 1, 2009, 11:12 am

    We order organic food for Thumper through Canine Caterers, a holisitic food delivery service in DC and NC. His foster owners used to feed him salmon and sweet potatoes all the time. I think you can find a number of websites online in regard to pet veggie eating. It's becoming pretty huge.

  • Peggy August 1, 2009, 11:23 am

    This is really interesting. I haven't even meat in over 15 years; however I do let my puppies eat steak from time to time and I don't buy them special dog food. I've always been under the impression that it would be hard to have vegetarian pets. I'm going to research this too.

  • Runeatrepeat August 1, 2009, 11:32 am

    I would be very hesitant to switch my dogs to a vegetarian diet.
    They are naturally meat eaters, and unlike humans, they don't understand the moral reasons behind why they shouldn't eat meat. I don't know, I haven't done much research on it, but I think of my dogs like my kids and I would do what is best for my kids' bodies first and think about morality second. Does that sound bad?

    I don't eat meat (but some fish) and I avoid it for moral reasons, so I can totally see where you're coming from. I just think I would put my dogs (or kids) health above my moral beliefs.

    Re Cats: I have heard that cats should not be veg and can go blind.

    Plus, it's probably more expensive, which I wouldn't be able to afford…

  • Deva August 1, 2009, 11:37 am

    Caitlin, I just wanted to thank you for stating that cats cannot be vegetarians, and I think it's great that you're looking into vegetarian dog foods.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 1, 2009, 11:38 am

    runeat – hmm good point about the $$ i bet it will cost more to put my doggies on a vegetarian diet.

    i'm going to go ahead and argue that a vegetarian diet is healthier than a meat-eating one (at least for humans). vegetarians live longer lives and have less heart disease and cancer.

    also you raise an interesting point about putting children on vegetarian diets. i plan to put my kids on a vegetarian diet because i have to spend my money to feed them and i dont want my money to support factory farms. also i am concerned about the health ramifications of eating factory farmed meat. i won't forbit my kids from eating meat at their friends' house but i never would serve it to them unless there is a specific medical reason i need to.

  • hookedup August 1, 2009, 11:50 am

    My dogs are not vegetarian but they do love fruits and vegetables. Mangoes, grapes, carrots, whatever we are eating they love it. So if someone is snacking on an apple a wedge would go to a dog. There are absolutely crazy about mangoes, do not make the mistake of putting one down where they can reach it, they will take. Remarkable they will not touch your food unless you give them but they will steal a mango.

  • Sammie August 1, 2009, 12:07 pm

    You can make your own vegetarian food to feed them. Usually you include potatoes, rice, carrots, and other vegetables and get the supplements from your vet. It gets to be time consuming and expensive. I have been a vegetarian for many years and finally resorted to feeding my dogs "Newman's Own" dog food because they use free range chickens and don't add all the byproducts. It's not tthe perfect choice for a vegetarian pet owner, but I feel better because the chickens are treated humanely and additionally my dogs are not getting pumped full of steroids, antibiotics, and byproducts. I won't put that stuff in my body and decided I can't do it to them.

  • Lauren August 1, 2009, 12:13 pm

    I don't feed my dog commercial pet food, but I do feed him meat. I buy a rotisserie chicken from Costco once every couple weeks, and every day I mix up some rice with the chicken and feed him that. Occasionally, he'll get some cheese, or rice with milk. I think it's certainly possible to feed your dog only vegetarian food, and I don't think it's a bad idea, but it takes a lot of time and effort that not everyone would be willing to put in.

  • Sammie August 1, 2009, 12:14 pm

    One more comment about the furniture issue. I wanted a leather sofa because it is easier to keep clean, but I felt bad about buying leather. I actually found a faux leather (vinyl) one and it is actually quite nice. The upside is it looks as good as leather, is very comfortable and was a fraction of the cost. Vinyl furniture doesn't look the same as it did in the 70's. šŸ™‚

  • Liz August 1, 2009, 12:27 pm

    Just to play the devil's advocate, I have never seen a scientific study (that is not confounded by other factors) that concludes vegetarians live longer or have less instances of diesease. A lot of people who choose a vegetarian lifestyle tend to have other healthy habits in terms of exercise, etc, which complicates these studies.

    The idea of a vegetarian pet is interesting, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I kind of think that unless an individual animal has the intellegence to choose their food based on various issues (as humans do), we should keep their diet as close to what they evolved to eat naturally — which for dogs and their ancestors includes meat.

    I would be interested to hear more info about this though

  • Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now August 1, 2009, 12:35 pm

    I have no idea about vegetarian dogs, although it sounds like you've got it pretty much figured out šŸ™‚ I do know that your dogs are so cute!

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 1, 2009, 12:40 pm

    liz – you're right, those studies are difficult because there are so many factors involved.

    if maggie could hunt down a rabbit and eat it for dinner, more power to her little weiner legs LOL i might feel better about them eating meat if its was as their doggie ancestors had meat — free roam, not factory farmed. its definitely one of those difficult situations! i dont know what we will do.

    jenn – maggie and james say thanks. šŸ™‚

  • megan August 1, 2009, 12:55 pm

    My dogs are veg, and they love it! You really just have to go trial and error with foods, they all like different things. Mine love zucchini and sweet potatoes, amongst other things. Talk to your vet about supplements and ask for a list of foods they can't have– I was surprised to find they couldnt have certain seasonings/spices, avocado… a few weird things.

    I think it's easiest and most economical to just make them little meals yourself. We usually have some sort of bean/grain along with veggies, so we just make up little dishes for them. There are also some vegetarian dog foods (V-dog, Wenaewe). They aren't cheap, but they're good for when you're in a hurry!

  • Ashley August 1, 2009, 1:32 pm

    Hi Caitlin!
    Here is a link to a store that I think can help you http://www.murphyspetfood.com/ It is located in the Winter Springs Town Center. I met some of the people working there during a festival.
    Good luck!

  • Amanda (Miami) August 1, 2009, 1:38 pm

    what brand of granola do you use? Thank you!

  • Cait (Cait's Plate) August 1, 2009, 1:45 pm

    Mmm that Oikos/granola/blueberry thing looks amazing. And so does that pizza! Glad your run went well šŸ™‚ There's nothing better!

  • Lauren August 1, 2009, 1:48 pm

    SO interesting that dogs can be vegetarian but cats cannot. I've never given that much thought to my pet's diets (does that make me a bad pet mom?). I'm going to research what exactly goes into the dog and cat chow I buy. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • *errign August 1, 2009, 1:52 pm

    Hi Caitlin,

    Good luck researching a new diet for your puppies!

    I'm sure you know this, but make sure James and Maggie don't eat onions and grapes! I can't remember exactly why on onions, but grapes can cause kidney (or maybe it's liver…either way, no good.) failure in some dogs.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 1, 2009, 1:52 pm

    Amanda – It's called Heartland – in regular cereal aisle!

  • Haleigh August 1, 2009, 2:24 pm

    Good luck with your research on the subject.

    Love the puppy pictures- keep em' coming!

  • Runeatrepeat August 1, 2009, 2:42 pm

    Yeah, I agree on feeding the kids. ..I don't want my money to support factory farms.

    And you're probably right about veg diets being healthier for humans, so the same is probably true to dogs šŸ™‚

    Hope I didn't come of negative, I feel like I posted a super long comment!

  • MarathonVal August 1, 2009, 2:47 pm

    That was actually one of my favorite posts of yours! That's such an interesting topic and though I don't have pets right now, I always did growing up and my husband and I are currently researching trying to decide what type of dog to get, and when.

    I definitely see both sides to the story, and I appreciate you bringing up this interesting (yet controversial) i ssue!

  • Amy August 1, 2009, 3:08 pm

    If you go to Amy's Kitchen (the people behind the vegetarian frozen meals), they have information on vegetarian pets in the Lemon Slice section. They have a dog that is vegetarian. That might be a good place to start.

  • Erin August 1, 2009, 3:15 pm

    Caitlin, here in NJ, we've got futzy little gourmet pet stores in every small town. The great thing about them is that they almost all offer homemade vegetarian doggy foods. Something you could look into.

    The meat in most pet foods is atrocious, so good for you for being aware.

    We use Van Pattens for Hillary and I've read the labels. It's higher quality and the meat in it is not meat byproducts and other junk.

  • Jennifer @ His N' Her Health August 1, 2009, 4:19 pm

    I have thought about putting my dogs on a vegetarian diet too, but then I see them chase down a bird and try to eat it (we usually get rid of it before they eat it). So clearly if mine were out in the wild they would be eating meat on their own. That is why I am so torn. However I don't see Maggie catching an animal LOL.

  • mrsrazon August 1, 2009, 4:20 pm

    I know several dogs that are vegetarians and they do well with it!

    You're right about cats, though – they cannot be veg.

  • Island Girl Eats August 1, 2009, 5:46 pm

    My little dog Scruffy is not a vegetarian, but I do make his food myself. It is really healthy too and he loves it. I got too freaked out by the stuff that they sell in the stores, especially when it was constantly being recalled.

  • Rebeca @All Vegged Out August 1, 2009, 7:14 pm

    I have a friend with vegetarian dogs- she makes their food for them but before that she used to buy the vegetarian option at TJs- wait I guess you'd have to hit some other store though but there are lots of really good ones!

    Have fun tonight!!

  • Paige@ Running Around Normal August 1, 2009, 7:53 pm

    That's a very interesting question you pose. It's easy to see both sides. I'm not even sure it should be a yes or no answer to dogs in general. For example, I honestly don't think it'd be wrong to feed my little yorkie mix dog a veg diet, because she can't hunt down her own food. She'd lose against a squirrel! LOL. Now, like a hunting dog or German shephard is another story.

    One thing though- don't give your puppers any grapes- I've read they're very bad for dogs.

  • Beth August 2, 2009, 7:26 am

    Another alternative may be natural dog food which we feed our dog – it's humanely made with minimal fillers and junk. Ours is called Solid Gold Hund & Flocken.

  • Elizabeth (The Dallas Celiac) August 2, 2009, 8:45 am

    I have to agree with Liz that there are many other factors to be considered when trying to determine which diet – vegetarian or omnivore – lives longer and leads a healthier lifestyle. I personally believe that one can be just as healthy by eating meat, but I may be biased as I am not a vegetarian (though I was for 6 years). šŸ™‚

    As for your doggies, I see your point – if you don't consider it healthy enough for you to eat, why would you feed it to them? But please note that dogs and cats in the wild are nearly 100% carnivores by choice and changing their diets would require really careful monitoring of their nutrients. If you are looking for some really good, really wholesome dog/cat food, Wellness brand is awesome. It has ingredients you can pronounce and our kittens have responded really well to it.

  • Frannie August 2, 2009, 1:40 pm

    I think there is a veggie variety of Beneful. My parents have a malamute/husky that has eaten that everyday for 10 years. He also swallows the occasional rabbit or raccoon, so I don't know if he 'needs' meat or just likes to hunt.

    Also, I come from a very high-veg family and we have had dogs that devoured heads of lettuce off the kitchen table when we weren't looking, ate carrots out of our hands, and would chase down and chomp on apples. There is certainly no harm in feeding them veggies. Currently I have two cats who snub tuna and cheese but will fight me for leaves of spinach, non-fat yogurt, and cheerios. You can tell they are the pets of a single girl owner by their strange preferences.

  • libby August 3, 2009, 12:31 am

    I have two goldies who are vegetarian (also had 2 previously that were veggie for half their lives – they lives until 13 and 14). The current goldies have pasta, veggies, eggs (from our own chickens) and leftover veggie foods. They are fit, healthy, active dogs with nice coats. So it's def. possible to have healthy, happy vegetarian dogs. I too switched their diets when I switched mine 5 years ago.

    Libby

  • Anonymous August 3, 2009, 6:30 am

    Check out http://www.wysong.net/
    While not being vegetarian, they are a better option than most other commercial dog foods and would at the very least be able to provide you with a supplement should you choose to have your dogs go vegetarian. We have cats eating raw chicken with their call of the wild supplement, and have been thrilled with the results

  • OurDogBuffy June 17, 2010, 9:38 am

    We feed our dogs Blue Buffalo–it’s the only food that worked for our Labradoodle. It’s fabulous! Made with whole products, veggies, etc. The sweet potato and fish formula is what we feed them (we have a Labradoodle and a Standard Poodle). Our cats eat turkey and giblets soft food from Science Diet (our vet said they can get certain diseases if they don’t eat soft food! Who knew?) and then we feed them Science Diet kitten indoor formula. They were on Blue Buffalo but seemed to have bathroom issues. Hoping to put them back on Blue Buffalo when they become adults! If you go to the Blue Buffalo website, you can get coupons!

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