Can I Feed My Pet What I Eat??
We know how it feels when our pet stares at us with those Puss-in-Boots eyes when we're eating.
While domesticated dogs have largely evolved to be somewhat omnivorous (ie. eating both animal and non-animal material), animals like cats remain carnivorous due to their nutritional requirements.
Despite a plant based food trend sweeping the human food chain, we must remain conscious of the fact that our dogs and cats are not suitable to be on completely plant based diets due to their unique physiological needs! While there have been some dogs that have gone completely over to a vegan diet, we do not encourage this as it takes ALOT of effort, calculation of macros and supplementation to keep them at optimum nutrition.
Cats must strictly NOT be vegan as it is severely detrimental to their needs. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats (ie. they need this to live), and this is not found in large enough quantities in plants. There have been sad cases of deaths due to unknowing pet owners putting their cats on vegan diets leading to malnutrition. Please don't do this!
Having said all that, let's delve into some of the common food items that we should be aware of for dogs and cats in our households.
Generally, fruit are ok in small amounts, except for fruit like grapes/raisins (these are highly toxic to dogs and cats and can lead to liver and kidney failure with subsequent death). Remember that fruit tends to contain lots of carbs in the form of sugars, so these will be adding on to the energy that your pet consumes. If you have a chonky pet and feed it lots of fruit and/or carbs, there's your answer! Reduce and moderate!
Cats are sensitive to citrus fruit and can get irritation and tummy upsets if in contact or ingested, so keep them away from your cat and peel them out of reach!
Please remember that fruit flesh are generally ok, but the seeds contain toxins and our pets aren't as selective as us to not consume the seeds or pits. To prevent ingestion, remove all seeds/pits from the fruit and simply feed the flesh only.
We also know Singaporeans have a profound love for durian. Some pets want to eat it too, and they can, although consumption must be limited to small amounts infrequently. Durian is high in Sulfur, fat and sugars (carbs) and too much can lead to indigestion, diarrhoea and tummy upsets (imagine the smell when it comes out the other end!), and weight gain. Seeds are a big nono, if ingested, your pet needs to see a vet right away to get it out.
By now, most pet owners are aware of the toxic effects of Theobromine in chocolate that kills pets. Keep all chocolate out of reach of your pets!
Sugar-free foods such as those for ketogenic diets and diabetic diets tend to contain artificial sweeteners such as Xylitol. Unfortunately, these artificial sweeteners are toxic to animals and shouldn't be fed to them. So, keep sugar free items out of their reach too.
Most vegetables are fine, except for ONIONS/Chives/Leeks/Garlic. These vegetables will make your pet anemic as the toxic substance within them destroys their red blood cells! Very awful indeed. Powdered flavourings of such veges should also be avoided as alot of them are extracted from the actual plant itself.
Avocados, while amazing for essential fatty acids for us, aren't as amazing for our pets. They can tolerate a small amount, but it is generally best to avoid feeding avocado and switching to specially formulated oils to maintain their skin and coat.
Flowers & Plants
While these are not technically eaten by us, our pets come into contact with them and sometimes nibble on them out of curiousity. My cat LOVES flowers, everytime a bouquet comes in, she sniffs and rubs all over it, lies near it, plays with it and guards it.
Cats are HIGHLY SENSITIVE to Lilies. If you receive any flowers with lillies in them, remove the lillies out or put it away where the cat will not have access to it. Plant selections matter too, with ferns generally cat safe. Any form of lily should not be put in a household with cats.
Aloe Vera, Snake Plant, any other plant related to pine, eucalyptus (basically any plant that smells citrusy, minty, piney - real Christmas trees!) are all toxic to pets, especially cats.
Chrysanthemums are also another flower type that aren't suitable for cats.
Here's an idea for florists in Singapore, how about putting in a "cat-safe" option for cat households?