A Nifty Green Plant for Pets

Grass-like plants have been among the most versatile and widespread food forms on the planet since the age of the dinosaurs. Though certain species have been cultivated as fodder for domesticated animals for thousands of years, grass was not considered for human consumption until Ann Wigmore (1909-1994), co-founder of the original Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, discovered that juicing wheatgrass could produce health-related benefits.

Wigmore wholeheartedly believed in the healing power of nature. After sprouting wheat berries and using their juice to successfully treat her own health challenges, she began touting the nutritional rewards of this simple plant form. In addition to being high in fiber, it turns out that wheat grass is a source of 30 enzymes, 90 minerals, 19 amino acids, nucleic acids and vitamins A, Bs, C, E, H and K.

Since 1986, commercially tray-grown wheatgrass juice has enjoyed increasing popularity among those who frequent health food stores and juice bars. But it wasn’t until 1996 or so that this nutritional powerhouse became a menu option for our four-legged friends.

After discovering that several of his regular customers were feeding their pets wheatgrass pulp and juice, Harley Matsil, owner and CEO of Perfect Foods, the largest retail wheatgrass grower in the world, did some research. He wanted more information on how this nifty green plant, which is 70 percent chlorophyll, could benefit animals.

Says Matsil, “When I interviewed the man in charge of feeding the animals at the Bronx Zoo, I was surprised to learn that the zoo had its own indoor wheatgrass growing area.” The innovation stemmed from research done with racehorses, conducted by Dr. Larry Smith, former dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Another nationally known supplier, Steve Meyerowitz, fondly known as Sproutman, sells organic seeds, sprouter kits and wheatgrass products for people, online. In Wheatgrass: Nature’s Finest Medicine, one of his six books, Meyerowitz writes about individuals who have used wheatgrass juice, freeze dried wheatgrass powder and/or pulp to heal or help pets.

In addition to being high in fiber, it turns out that wheatgrass is a source of 30 enzymes, 90 minerals, 19 amino acids, nucleic acids and multiple vitamins.

“I interviewed several dog breeders (of Irish Wolfhounds and Shetland Sheepdogs) and pet owners who had successfully used various forms of wheatgrass,” advises Meyerowitz. “They administered it differently in each case; they gave it to the animals via eyedroppers, syringes or enemas, or added it to their food. Results ranged from extended longevity, increased vitality and improved fertility to improvement in skin conditions and restoration of color in coats.”

A comment from a client alerted Meyerowitz to what he believes might potentially be a significant benefit to pets. Over time, a veterinarian used by one of the breeders feeding animals wheatgrass observed an interesting phenomenon. “None of that particular breeder’s dogs ever had any form of cancer, and the vet wanted to know what the dogs were being fed,” remarks Meyerowitz. “Her observation surely gives other pet owners something to think about.”

For information on Perfect Foods, visit 800Wheatgrass.com.

For information on Steve Meyerowitz, call 413-528-5200 and visit Sproutman.com.

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