Dogs and cats benefit from leafy green vegetables as these are packed with nutrients that fight cellular aging.
Leafy greens also help pets in the proper digestion of food and elimination of waste.
“Don’t scold your dog or cat for nibbling your house plants—she’s telling you something!, “ said Juniper Russo in “ Leafy greens for dogs and cats in Animal Wellness site.
Russo stressed: “Many animals are deficient in the nutrients found in leafy greens. Meat should be the primary component of a carnivore’s diet, of course, but a diet containing no plant matter is a fast ticket to nutritional disaster. A dog or cat that eats no green foods is more likely to experience digestive disorders, trace mineral deficiencies and even some forms of cancer. An animal that eats a diet rich in greens is likely to have a long and healthy life.”
Benefits for dogs and cats
The benefit of leafy greens, but these benefits vary for each specie.
• Dogs are omnivores. It is good that they can fully digest both plant food and animal products.
“They benefit from the antioxidants found in green vegetables, which can help fight cellular aging, “ Russo said.
“Dogs efficiently process plant-based nutrients; for example, they readily convert beta carotene into vitamin A, “ she added.
While greens make a dog more healthy, Russo noted that “this critical component of canine nutrition is neglected by many mainstream veterinarians and commercial food manufacturers.”
• Cats, on the other hand, do not have the enzymes needed for digesting plant-based food.
“Salad greens placed in a bowl may look remarkably the same when they appear in the litter box. Does this mean cats can’t benefit from greens? Not at all!” said Russo.
Cats still need green leafy vegetables to remove waste and detoxify the colon.
“Leafy vegetables can also help a cat expel hairballs, either by pushing them into the digestive tract or enabling vomiting. A cat that uses greens to induce vomiting shouldn’t be stopped; occasional vomiting is perfectly normal and healthy, “ Russo said.
Why dogs and cats eat grass
Pets do eat grass and weeds and this helpful to them.
“Under ideal circumstances, grassy lawns can help them meet their nutritional needs. Dandelion greens are packed with nutritious compounds that detoxify the liver and urinary tract, while common lawn grasses like St. Augustine offer fiber and trace minerals, “ Russo said.
But outdoor plants contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers and automobile pollution will harm your pet.
“Organic indoor grown grass is a healthy alternative for the animal with an urge to graze, “Russo said.
There are pet supply stores that sell sprouted alfalfa, wheat and rye---or you can plant these plants yourself--as they are easier for animals to digest than standard lawn grass varieties.
“These indoor grasses stay alive and fresh year round, and are especially helpful for animals that nibble house plants. Many cats will also enjoy snacking on indoor grown catnip, which tastes delicious even to kitties that do not respond to its psychoactive compounds, “ Russo said.
Good for digestive boost
Animals with digestive disorders do benefit from leafy green vegetables.
“Fibrous greens like kale and chard help prevent constipation, fecal impactions and spastic colon,” said Russo.
“Fiber also helps prevent the buildup of gas and waste in the colon. Human studies have demonstrated that leafy vegetables can even prevent cancers of the digestive tract. Considering the cancer epidemic among companion animals, this should not be overlooked or underestimated, “ Russo said.
“Raw foods contain the highest concentration of live enzymes, which perform essential functions for the plant. Many advocates of raw feeding believe that raw vegetables enable animals to derive more nutrition from plant based foods. Additionally, the proteolytic enzymes found in some leafy greens are anti-inflammatory, and may ease painful conditions like arthritis, “ Russo said.
How to give leafy greens to your pet
Most active enzymes in leafy greens are lost when cooked. A few vitamins and minerals are also lost during cooking.
Thus, Russo recommended that an owner strive to serve fresh raw food to his/her pet whenever possible.
“However, cooked greens are still very nutritious. If your companion will only accept cooked greens, try steaming rather than boiling them. Steaming leaves (keep) more of the nutrients intact, “ Russo stressed.
Dark leafy vegetables are more nutritious than light-colored ones, said Russo.
“In general, dark green vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals. For example, Romaine lettuce has about ten times the beta carotene and five times the vitamin C of iceberg lettuce,” Russo said.
In the Philippines, pechay Tagalog is a more healthy and less expensive alternative to Baguio pechay. You can cut them into small pieces or put them in a blender raw or after steaming, then add to the meat broth.
“Leafy greens, either raw or cooked, can be chopped, minced or pureed and added to your companion’s regular food. Start with small amounts and monitor his response—too much all at once might cause diarrhea, especially if he’s not used to eating vegetables. Adding leafy vegetables to your dog or cat’s diet even just a few times a week will do a lot to enhance his overall health, “ Russo said.
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