While the pet food industry has been trending towards healthier options over the past few years, many pet owners are looking for even healthier alternatives to traditional pet food sources. This might prompt someone to ask: could my pet go vegan?
How To Feed Your Dog A Vegan Diet
You can feed your dog a vegan diet — but you have to be careful about it. Dogs have the ability to process both animal and plant proteins.. That doesn’t mean all dogs should go on a plant-based diet, but it is a viable option under certain circumstances. For example, a dog that is allergic to animal proteins might be a good candidate for a vegan diet because it could clear up some allergies. Vegan foods that your dog can safely consume include:
- Broccoli, carrots and similar veggies
- Beans (only certain kinds)
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
Rover reports that while there are plenty of plant-based foods that are edible for dogs, there are some that you should not feed your pet. This includes citrus, avocados, grapes, macadamia nuts, raisins, onions, chives, and garlic.
It is recommended to consult with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet and make sure you do plenty of research. Another option is to purchase vegan dog food brands that are already balanced and come equipped with all the nutrients your pet requires.
What Are Potential Downsides To Feeding Your Dog A Vegan Diet?
If you do not balance the diet properly, your dog can develop long-term side effects that are often difficult to manage. Some deficiencies to look out for when switching to a plant-based menu include:
- Low protein levels. A well-balanced diet should contain anywhere from 15 to 30 percent protein, depending on the activity level and age of the dog.
- Imbalance in amino acid intake, which can cause heart issues and other serious illnesses.
- Mineral and vitamin deficiency.Dogs need calcium, B vitamins, iron and phosphorus to survive, all of which are plentiful in meats.
What Are Potential Benefits To__Feeding Your Dog A Vegan Diet?
Creating the perfectly-balanced vegan diet for your dog can be done, but it is a difficult process. Fortunately, there is a growing body of research about how to craft a vegan diet for your dog, and there is always the option of purchasing dried vegan dog food that is already balanced by a nutritionist.
Studies by Tufts University suggest that some dogs experienced a lot of benefits after eating an exclusively vegan diet. These include:
- Healthier fur
- A decrease in allergic reactions
- Weight stability
- Improved vitality
- Arthritis relapse
- A decreased chance of developing diabetes
- Eye improvements, lower risk of cancer
- Fewer infections and increased aversion to fleas, ticks, mites and lice infestations
What About Cats?
Veterinarians generally recommend against feeding cats a vegan diet because their digestive systems are not equipped to handle a plant-based diet, and it can lead to serious health problems or even death. Cats are not built to eat and digest an exclusively plant-based diet — they need meat to survive.
In the wild, cats eat a diet that contains a moderate level of fat, high protein, and low carbohydrates. Commercial diets, however, typically feature high levels of carbohydrates, which is one reason why there has been an increase in obesity and diabetes in household cats.
However, it’s worth noting that some people have fed their cats an exclusively vegan diet and not reported any negative side effects or long-term illnesses. Even still, it is not recommended to cut meat out of your cat’s diet under normal circumstances and you should not do so without first consulting your veterinarian.
With the proper amount of research, placing your dog on a vegan diet is possible, but it is not recommended for most situations. Although a vegan diet is a viable alternative if your dog suffers from food allergies that are related to animal products, feeding your dog plant-based foods comes with a fair share of risk. And if you fail to properly balance the diet then your dog can develop serious health conditions.