ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Can You Feed a Dog a Vegetarian Diet?

Updated on December 13, 2018
Source

Spurred by an ever-increasing concern with health and wellness, many dog owners have been pondering the question "Can I feed my a dog a vegetarian diet?", going so far as to post their views and questions online. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in a tumult of emotion and outrage as people who support a plant-based diet for dogs wage verbal war with those who (firmly) believe in a canine's meat-eating destiny. Hopefully, this article will help clear and air and give some clarity to this most divisive of topics.

Source

The short answer is yes. Dogs can eat a vegetarian diet and a few variations on the vegetarian diet without major ill-effects. However, caution must be taken to make sure your dog is getting all the essential nutrients that are not easily obtained from a plant-based diet.

The Long-Held Assumptions:

If you have been convinced that dogs must be pure carnivores because of the sharp pointy teeth and their direct relation to the wolf; you are definitely not alone. Most dog owners have been brought up on the idea that dogs need animal proteins more than anything else. However, it might surprise you to know that some of the mammals in the same zoological order as dogs and wolves (Carnivora) include pandas and raccoons (both known to be heavy consumers of plant matter). In fact, on occasion a dog will be diagnosed with a severe allergy to one or multiple animal proteins by a veterinarian. In this case, the veterinarian will carefully prescribe a meat-free diet for the animal. Every more impressive, once every few years the Guinness Book of World Records will award the title of "world's oldest dog" to a vegan / vegetarian dog; thus lending more credence to the fact that dogs can derive sufficient nutrients from a (carefully planned) plant-based diet.

Increasingly, some intrepid dog owners are placing the furry best friend on plant-based diets with the goal of improving the health and well-being in the long run. Some variation of these plant-based diets include but are not limited to:

__________________________________________________________________

Vegetarian diet for dogs:

This diet excludes meat, poultry, and seafood from the dog's diet. However, the choice of whether or not dairy and/or eggs is part of the dog's is completely up to the owner.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian diet for dogs:

This diet excludes meat, poultry, and seafood from the dog's diet. Yet, in this case dairy products and eggs can still be a part of the dogs. This diet is often preferred by those who fear that a completely plant-free diet may affect their dogs growth and development in some negative way.

Vegan diet for dogs:

Probably the most extreme choice of all, a vegan diet for dogs excludes all foods produced from or by animals. This would even exclude honey made from bees.

__________________________________________________________________

Let's take a short hiatus and notice I used the word "can" eat a vegetarian diet as opposed to "should" eat a vegetarian diet. This is because there is sufficient concern from experts in the field of animal health and nutrition to make the average dog owner take pause. Let's take a look at some of these fears and concerns in the next section.

Source

Fears & Concerns (about plant-based diets for dogs)

There is substantial evidence that an improperly monitored vegetarian or vegan diet for dogs can cause a significant amount of mental and physical stress for your pet. The exact reasons for this are many, varied and hard to pin down. But we have put everything in list format below:

Evolution:

Despite being indirectly related to omnivores and plant-eaters, some experts rightfully point out that a number of the typical dog's physical features make meat-eating its ideal dietary choice. The first internal feature experts point to is the digestive tract as pictured below:


figure 1
figure 1

Some experts point to the fact that the canine digestive tract is very short (in comparison to other mammals). Generally, speaking a longer digestive tract is characteristic of animals that eat plant matter (as it takes a longer time to digest). Moreover, a dogs sharp pointy teeth and powerful jaws could indicate an evolutionary preference for tearing and chewing through meat, bone and sinew.

Nutrition:

Dogs require significantly quantities of certain acids to remain healthy and active into their old age. Two of the most prominent are L-carnitine and taurine. A deficiency in these amino acids can lead to malformation of the heart and other essential parts of the cardiovascular system. Additionally, a lack of tryptophan can lead to a reduction in the essential brain chemicals that regulate your dogs mood and attention.

Mental Health:

Testimonials from the owners of some dog breeds indicate that plant-based diets may affect a dog's mental health. Dow owners and vets alike have reported dogs being irritable and exhibiting signs of depression while on a plant-based diet. These symptoms would often alleviate or disappear altogether when a dog resumed a diet heavy in animal proteins and fats.



Source

The Benefits of Feeding Your Dog A Vegetarian Diet

Despite the potential pitfalls, many pet owners are actively switching their dogs diets to include more "vegan fare." According to market research, at least 8.5 million dogs in the UK were on vegan or vegetarian diets in the UK circa 2016. And it is worth noting that there is now a wide roster of commercially viable vegetarian/vegan dog food brands including V-Dog (probably the biggest), Halo, and Nature's Recipe.

So clearly there may be some benefits to a vegetarian diet for dogs. Below we have compiled another list based on what expert vets and animal scientists have said:

Benefit #1: Avoiding the dreaded 4 D's

It is a little known secret that pet food in many western countries has been commercially prepared and treated with far less care than human food. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is the fact that pets have fewer legal protections than humans and there is a lack government oversight into the myriad activities of pet food manufacturers. For example, quite often the ground-up animals bits that get tossed away when processing meat for human consumption are later reprocessed into (your guessed it) pet food. Sometimes these undesirable bits are from animals that are either dead, dying, diseased or disabled. The four D's.


Benefit #2: There are Environmental Benefits

The large scale production and processing of meat (known generally as meat farming) is known to have a number of deleterious effects on the environment. First of all, the large-scale farming of grazing animals such as cows and pigs produces (potentially) more greenhouse gases than all the cars currently on the road. And more ominously, there is ample evidence to suggest that these same gaseous animal byproducts significantly reduce air quality in neighboring areas.

If that weren't bad enough, liquid and solid waste byproducts from these large farming operations are known to pollute vital water supplies. Therefore, the simple act of switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet can have a gradual but huge impact on the environment by reducing the aforementioned effects.


Benefit #3: Avoiding Bad Additives

Pet food and commercial human food alike are both treated with hormones and antibiotics as a matter of procedure. And even if you manage to source your meat from an organic farm or animal nursery, there is always the possibility that the animal feed these animals use is treated with pesticides (again...as a matter of procedure). If these industry mandated additives are a concern for you or your pet, then maybe feeding your dog a vegetarian diet is the way to go.


Do you think vegan diets are good for dogs?

See results
Source

Tips & Expert Advice (for feeding your dog a vegetarian diet)

As stated before, while a plant-based diet can be a great way to give your dog essential nutrients and anti-oxidants; if not done with a high degree of precaution, your efforts can prove disastrous. Here are a few tips to help you make the transition with (hopefully) the least amount of pain:

  1. Always, always seek the advice of veterinarian and/or licensed veterinary nutritionist.
  2. If feeding your dog any raw vegetables, put them through a grater to enhance digestibility.
  3. When switching your dog from a meat to a plant-based diet, do it in stages. A sudden change in diet might make your beloved more finicky or irritated.
  4. Evaluate your reasons for putting your dog on a vegetarian diet. Many owners feed their dog a plant based based on their own cultural or dietary preferences. However, they do so at the risk of ignoring their dog's health and well-being.
  5. This one is so important, I am repeating it twice. Always, always seek the advice of a veterinarian and/or licensed veterinary nutritionist.


If you have reached the end of this article, I hope you feel more informed about your options and choices. Placing your dog on a vegetarian diet is not easy. As an example, I have attached below a video of a woman who claims to have successfully converted her dog to vegetarianism only to have her claim backfire on national TV. Best of luck guys!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 months ago from UK

      I guess similar principles need to be applied as with humans. We need to ensure that both humans and animals get all the nutrients they require from their diet, whatever form it takes.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)