I often get asked if pets can remain healthy on a vegan or vegetarian diet. The answer is… Your cat needs meat but your dog… well, vet Serena Thomson to explain in this guest post…
Can a dog remain healthy on a vegan diet?
Many die hard vegetarians feel quite squeamish when feeding meat to their beloved pets. At the same time, there are pet owners who categorically avoid feeding meat to their dogs, but at the back of their mind, there is always a concern about the health and proper growth of their beloved four legged friends. Unlike cats, dogs can be given a purely vegetarian diet and can continue enjoying a healthy life, but this is true only when they get complete nutrition in their diet. We all know that dogs belong to the carnivore category, but they can also eat plant sourced food with ease. Thus, they are omnivores. The dogs’ bodies can transform certain proteins and amino acids into other digestible forms and this is possible even avoiding meat in their diet.
Nutritional Requirements of dogs
As discussed, dogs are omnivores and can fulfil their nutritional demands through plant based as well as animal based diet. Also, they are lacto-ovo vegetarian and as such they need not face any nutritional challenges as such. Amongst all protein sources, eggs have been found to have the maximum biological value in the foods used for the pets. The protein’s biological value helps in the measurement of its ability to ensure the supply of necessary amino acids as needed by the animal. Dogs can derive proteins from eggs as it is an excellent source for high end proteins that are necessary for their overall health. It is totally possible to give dogs a vegetarian diet, but it is important to ensure a perfect balance between various sources of proteins, that is, corn, beans, whole grains and soy. This will ensure that must needed amino acids are available to your adorable pet.
Facts about Canine Nutrition
Non vegetarians face no issue when it comes to ensuring proper diet for their dogs, they still wish to know more about the nutritional requirements of their pets so that they can ensure their proper health and development. Gaining more knowledge about canine nutrition, in fact, help them to take better care of their pets. The most important fact about dog nutrition is that despite consuming only plant based diet, the dogs can live a long and healthy life. But, if they can get meat protein as well, it would be just an additional nutrition. Thus, it is wise to strike a perfect balance between plant based and animal based sources of proteins. Rather than nutritional, acceptance is the major reason why dogs are given vegan food by their owners. If you want your dog to switch over to a vegan diet, you can simply mix both foods together with gradually decreasing the amount of meat and increasing plant based food. Soon, the dogs will get adjusted to this new food and they will stop craving for chicken, beef, etc. Thus, pet owners need not face the ethical quandary of feeding meat to their canine friends.
Commercial Pet Products
It is significant to note that a majority of pet products contains meat or its byproducts, wherein different body parts like brain, beaks, bones, tissues of the spinal cord, intestinal tracts or lungs are included. Some pet products use slaughterhouse waste and the products rejected by supermarkets. Sometimes, besides meat, the level of contaminants also increases in their food, which is risky to their health. Such food may contain high levels of contaminants and dangerous preservatives. Thus, it is very important to choose your dog’s food carefully. Only high brands must be chosen that are known for offering quality food with a perfect balance between various nutrients necessary for the health and development of the dogs. If the pet food is not high in quality, your pet may suffer from health issues like kidney failure, cancers, degenerative diseases and more. Thus, when choosing food for your dog, you must not only look for its palatability quotient but also that it gets digested easily. Now, it can be either meat based or plant based food. The dogs can enjoy both with no danger to their health, but the only disadvantage sticking with the vegan food is the limited choices available commercially in vegetarian diets.
About the author
Serena Thomson is a veterinarian and a pet expert. With 7 years of experience as a veterinarian and having an immense interest in pet care, she enjoys sharing her knowledge on pets.