I just love the new Jack-In-The-Box® commercial showing Jack ™s son confessing that he doesn ™t want to grow up to make steak sandwiches – he wants to be a vegetarian. When he explains how the vegetarian was able to fix his dog ™s hurt paw, Jack ™s disgust turns to pride! While it is easy for a child to confuse the words vegetarian and veterinarian, I want to be sure you don ™t confuse your pets with vegetarians. Animals that eat only vegetable matter are called herbivores, those that eat almost exclusively meat & bone are carnivores, and those that eat both are omnivores. Each of these groups has very distinct nutritional requirements. Herbivores require higher fiber content in their diets in order to survive. Carnivores must consume more protein and different types of protein containing a different set of amino acids. You may not realize that dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores. Cats that eat only dog food are very likely to develop heart disease or go blind due to inadequate intake of an amino acid called taurine. Some people prefer to feed their pets vegetarian diets. This must be done with caution. Since dogs and cats are not herbivores, it can be very difficult to develop a properly
balanced non-meat diet for these species. Cats are particularly prone to troubles with a vegetarian diet. If you are contemplating a vegetarian diet for your pet, please consult your veterinarian rather than a book (or a non-DVM vegetarian!) Nutrition is essential to health and wellness. If you have
questions about how to best feed your pets, call us.

by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP