Does your dog do a happy dance whenever you give him raw carrots or frozen peas? Is your cat partial to blueberries and bananas? Certain fruits and veggies can be a healthy complement to your four-legged friend’s diet. But just because you and your family are committed to a plant-based lifestyle, doesn’t mean a home with cats or dogs can be animal-product-free.
“Dogs and cats are considered carnivores,” says Dr. Julie Mayer, DVM, a holistic veterinarian at The Integrative Veterinarian in Phoenix. “Cats are obligate carnivores and, even though they may chew on plants or grass, will not survive on a vegan diet — they need meat. Dogs are also known to eat some plants and vegetables, but they do still need meat in their diet.”
She explains that cats, ideally, are 90% carnivores, so 5-10% of their daily intake can come from fruits and veggies. Dogs, on the other hand, should maintain a ratio of 75% meat and 25% fruit/veggies/carbs.
“Natural things, such as carrots and lightly cooked sweet potatoes, are great treats,” says Dr. Mayer. “They can also have berries, which provide antioxidants. Cats can have these as well — my own cat used to eat cantaloupe!” Before sharing your next salad with your pet, be sure to double-check with your vet to determine which fruits and vegetables are OK for your pets; some — such as avocado, onions, mushrooms and grapes — could be toxic.
Since vegetarian and vegan treats are OK to give to your pets as long as they remain treats and aren’t replacing their meat-based dietary needs, we’ve rounded up our favorite brands Fido and Fluffy are sure to love:
Vegan dog wellness company Lord Jameson offers a collection of organic, soft dog treats including plant-based proteins — each product is made with 100% certified organic human-grade ingredients, vegan, cruelty-free, plant-based, allergy-friendly and made without preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or GMO ingredients. There are eight year-round flavors, including Berry Best (made with organic strawberries, beets, coconut, peanut butter, rolled oats, oat flower, dates and brown rice syrup) and Daily Greens, which swaps the aforementioned berries with organic dandelion, ginger, chia seeds and spinach. Honestly, you might even be tempted to try them yourself.
You probably already know how nutrient-dense chlorella is — yes, those blue-green algae that has the highest concentration of chlorophyll on the planet and one of the only known plant sources of the active B12 vitamin our bodies can ingest. Well, your furry friend needs greens, too. When you’re preparing your own green juice, make sure to treat your dog or cat to Rejuv-A-Wafers. These veterinarian-approved superfood treats help freshen breath, improve body odor, promote a healthy coat, improve energy and support digestion.
If you love making superfood smoothies for yourself. it’s time to give your dog his own version of a smoothie — but in the form of a Zesty Paws soft chew. The premium brand’s Superfood Bites are grain-free treats with such nutrient-rich ingredients as spirulina, flaxseed meal, kale, organic kelp, sweet potato, blueberry, pumpkin and coconut milk. They also contain antioxidants and omega fatty acids to help promote liver and heart health, boost immune system, support digestion and enhance longevity.
No time to cook a sweet potato for your pet? Reach for Wholesome Pride’s Sweet Potato Chews instead. There’s only one ingredient (yep, you guessed it: sweet potato — grown on family farms in North Carolina), so it’s vegan and gluten-free. Plus, it’s a great source of fiber to help promote healthy digestion and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Your dog is sure to love the chewy texture, making them a great replacement for rawhide. If sweet potatoes aren’t what they crave, the company has other one-ingredient treats, including apple slices, mango slices, carrot slices, and pumpkin strips.
Have you heard of koji? It’s an ancient fungi superfood commonly used in Japan to enhance the umami flavor of soy sauce, sake, bean paste and miso. It’s also high in protein and contains all 10 essential amino acids that dogs need. Wild Earth’s Dog Snacks with Koji are free of fillers, additives and preservatives and instead use clean ingredients — the Strawberry & Beet flavor contains strawberry, beet powder, flaxseed, rosemary extract and oat flour. The company also offers high-protein, meat-free dog food; the protein, which is vital to their health, comes from yeast.
Unlike kids, you’ll never have to force your dog to finish his vegetables — and certainly not if you’re serving him Zuke’s Crunchy Naturals 10s (the 10 stands for 10 calories, which means they won’t pack unhealthy weight onto your pup). Crafted in the USA, these grain-free, vegan treats are made from berries, bananas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, peanut butter and vitamins and minerals. To ensure man’s best friend gets everything he needs and nothing he doesn’t, Zuke’s never uses corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.