BY SANDRA MURPHY
Despite their small size, sprouts pack a nutritional wallop with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and protein. Dogs, birds, horses and even cats enjoy the crunch, as well as the health benefits.
Notorious for being picky eaters, cats might balk at sprouts being added to their regular diet. Rather than upsetting the status quo, grow sprouts like alfalfa or barley on a handy windowsill for grazing. “My cats prefer self-serve,” observes veterinarian Carol Osborne, owner of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic, in Ohio. “Now they leave my house plants alone.” Both cats and dogs may show improved gastric intestinal health as a result.
Dogs are more accepting of new content in their food bowl. “Add just a few sprouts so a dog gets used to the slightly bitter taste. Once acclimated, one-eighth to one-quarter cup daily per 20 pounds of the pet’s weight is the rule of thumb,” says Osborne.
She counsels against serving Fido onion, garlic, corn or mushroom sprouts. Peas, sunflowers, radishes, alfalfa and clover are suggested; they are all tasty and easy to grow.
“One of my favorite sprouts is mung beans, because they appear in two days or less. Birds like the crunch,” says Brooks. “Sprouts are safe to leave in the cage all day because they are live foods.”
“Because of sporadic drought conditions, the idea of growing your own fodder became more popular, thinking it might make forage supply more dependable and possibly cheaper after initial startup costs,” Thunes explains. “Owners have a sense of control over what the horse eats, there’s less reliance on a supplier and the seeds are less expensive than hay. Due to moisture and nutritional differences, you can’t swap sprouts and hay pound for pound. It’s best to consult a veterinarian or nutritionist.” Sprouts contain a lot of moisture and have an inverted calcium phosphorus ratio that has to be accounted for she says.
Horses enjoy barley, sunflower and flax sprouts for variety. The high moisture content may help reduce the risk of intestinal impaction and resulting colic.
Good for All
“Sprouts are a healthy form of nutrition and a hip way for both pets and people to enjoy greens,” says Osborne. “They’re a great go-to powerhouse of nutrition, often more nutritious than the adult plant.”
Connect with freelance writer Sandra Murphy at StLouisFreelanceWriter@mindspring.com.