I know that dogs like meat, but I’d like to feed mine a vegetarian diet. Is that safe?
Your dog can live a long and healthy life on a strictly vegetarian diet, but just as you would for yourself, make sure that she’s receiving plenty of protein and all the essential vitamins and nutrients.
If you’re introducing your dog to a newly vegetarian lifestyle, do so gradually so that her system has time to adjust. As with any dietary changes, the key is to be observant. If diarrhea, vomiting, dull coat, or other signs of illness occur, consult your vet right away.
Generally speaking, about half of your dog’s diet should come from grains, with the other half a mix of protein and vegetables. Potatoes, brown rice, whole-grain cereals, and bread are healthy and safe grain options. Lentils, cottage cheese, cooked eggs, and baked beans are all excellent sources of protein. (A limited amount of low-fat cheese, on occasion, is fine too.)
Vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, yellow squash, cauliflower, spinach, and broccoli offer much in the way of vitamins–to make them more digestible, prepare pureed or steamed. Avoid onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins, all of which can be toxic to your pet.
If you’re interested in commercial vegetarian dog food, most of the major pet store chains carry it, including Petco and Petsmart.