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Is a plant based diet a healthy option for your dog?

Is a plant based diet a healthy option for your dog?

By Perky Tails Ltd

In this article, we will explore whether or not a plant based diet a is healthy option for your dog. Dogs are normally thought of as natural carnivores, when they are actually classed as omnivores, and although a plant-based diet may not be a common thought for many dog owners, illnesses or medication may cause you to need to rethink your pets’ diet. If you need to alter your pets diet and are finding yourself concerned about how to do so, whilst ensuring your dog remains fit and healthy, look no further as we take a look at how a plant based diet can work for you dog.

A plant-based diet should not be undertaken for purely “fashionable” or personal reasons, as their diets must be reasonably balanced and nutritionally complete – a meat free diet needs to be approached with care, and your dog’s health monitored regularly.

It has been noted that “A growing body of evidence appears to indicate that dogs and cats can survive, and indeed thrive, on nutritionally-sound vegetarian and vegan diets. Those interested in vegetarian companion animal diets should be aware of concerns about the nutritional adequacy of some such diets demonstrated by a number of studies over a significant number of years.” (Leitsberger, 2016)

So, if you are considering changing your dog onto either a partially or 100% completely plant-based diet you will need to try to ensure that your pets diet is still as varied as possible. One of the key things to try and remember is to read food labelling where possible to check for protein/fats contents, and to make sure that it is still nutritionally balanced. Another important thing to consider when altering your dog’s diet, is that dogs require two main amino acids, called “L-carnitine and taurine”, these are to aid your dog’s metabolism and digestion and are normally found in animal proteins. If these levels aren’t efficiently maintained, they can cause heart problems las your dog gets older. Some plant based foods will still contain these in low amounts, but if you are struggling to keep the levels required, supplements are a healthy alternative – you should always consult your vet before providing any kind of supplement or diet change to your dog.

If you need to move your dog onto a fully meat free diet, many organisations (including PETA) advise that this should be done gradually with steady and controlled portion changes. This is so that your dog’s digestive system has sufficient time to adjust, and to ensure that your dog doesn’t have any form of reaction to the dietary changes (this could potentially include gastrointestinal/skin problems that can sometimes be a side effect of too many carbohydrates). Many pet food brands such as “Lily’s kitchen” or “Gather” offer plant based or meat free version of their food, which will help to make the transition a little easier – we’ve included a quick link below to get you started on your meat-free shopping journey, and as mentioned above always check the labels/nutritional information to ensure that it is suitable for your dog’s specific needs:

https://www.lilyskitchen.co.uk/for-dogs/food-for-dogs/shop-for-special-diets/vegetarian

Alternatively, if you are looking for a more hands on home cooked method, there are numerous meat-free recipes available online for you to try yourself at home, to cook up a storm for your beloved pup. If you have a quick browse online, there are many sites/blogs that are dedicated to helping you cook for your dog and keep an eye on what your dog is actually eating. Many of the recipes available are described as being relatively quick to whip together, with just a handful of ingredients, meaning you don’t need to be a master chef to treat your pup to a 5* meal.

When reading through dog friendly veggie recipes, a lot of sites have similar “avoid” lists that detail which foods you should try to avoid giving your dog in excess, or even at all. The most recurring food items to avoid include corn, potatoes, rice (specifically brown), and wheat, as these foods are extremely heavy carbohydrates and may cause digestive problems for your pup. Creating dishes for your dog whilst avoiding carb heavy foods should be no problem, as your dogs diet needs to be predominantly made up of various proteins and fats – these can include eggs, vegetables, and various diary items.

To summarise, if you are considering changing your dogs’ diet, you should do so gradually as mentioned before, and continue to monitor your dog’s health as closely as possible. Not all dogs will be able to make the change straight away, which is why it is so important to monitor them (especially at a young age), to ensure that they are not experiencing any negative side effects or health concerns.

Dogs maintained on vegetarian diets may be healthy—including those exercising at the highest levels—and indeed may experience a range of health benefits. Vegetarian animals also experience a range of health problems, but these problems are also prevalent in companion animals maintained on meat-based diets.

It is entirely possible for companion animals to survive, and indeed thrive, on vegetarian diets. However, these must be nutritionally complete and reasonably balanced(Leitsberger, 2016).

Works Cited

Leitsberger, A. K. (2016). Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for. Winchester: Centre for Animal Welfare.

Meatless meals for dogs and cats. (2020). Retrieved from PETA: https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/animal-companion-factsheets/meatless-meals-dogs-cats/

Recipes. (2018). Retrieved from House that Barks: https://www.housethatbarks.com/easy-homemade-dog-food-recipe/

VEGETARIAN DOG FOOD. (2020). Retrieved from Lilys Kitchen: https://www.lilyskitchen.co.uk/for-dogs/food-for-dogs/shop-for-special-diets/vegetarian