Vegetarian Dog Food
To most Americans, leading a vegetarian lifestyle is the right way to healthy living. As a result, they feel obliged to extend this sort of lifestyle to their pets. Such beliefs have brought about a wide-scale marketing campaign for vegetarian dog foods.
Depending on your definition of vegetarian, certain ingredients and food types may be incorporated or removed from a vegetarian diet. As a minimum requirement, most meat sources – pork, beef, fish, etc. – are usually removed from the diet. Animal products such as milk and eggs are also usually not incorporated into the diet.
Why do people switch their pet diets to Vegetarian Dog Food?
Most vegetarians believe that vegetarian diets are healthy when compared to the traditional diets, which include animal-source foods. Vegetarians extend this assumption to their pets, which of course is not always true. For example, dogs do not suffer from disorders such as high cholesterol. Therefore, cutting your dog’s meat intake with the intention of reducing its cholesterol intake does not serve any real health benefit to the dog.
Other folks believe that meat contains contaminated bacteria that may harm their dog. This may be a real and legitimate cause to worry; however, meat products that have been properly canned or dried pose a far lower risk of disease transmission when compared to raw vegetables or fruits.
Some people cut their pet’s meat or animal-source intake with the premise that it causes food allergies. Pets rarely develop food allergies. When it comes to pets, the risk of developing allergies due to protein intake from meat or protein intake from plants is the same. Cutting meat intake rarely helps solve this problem.
The most likely Effects of switching your Dog’s Diet to Vegetarian
The nutritional demands for dogs are very different when compared to those of humans. A perfect vegetarian diet for a human may; therefore, not be suitable for a dog. A vegetarian pet food that meets all the requirements – of the dog species – is very difficult, but possible to develop. However, it becomes even more difficult when you decide to use ingredients that fit a purely vegetarian diet: a vegan diet.
A protein and calcium need of a dog, for example, is much higher when compared to that of a human. Such nutrients are usually derived from animal ingredients.
Of course, it is possible to derive such nutrients – Calcium and protein – from synthetic substitutes; however, the process is much more expensive and far less reliable. The process may prove very effective theoretically, but fail miserably in the “real world”.
Finally, even if the dog eats the vegetarian diet that you serve it, it may not consume it in the proportions that its body requires. Pets enjoy a cookie or a fruit on an occasional basis; however, they may not enjoy consuming vegetarian products for their survival. Therefore, even if you come up with a vegetarian diet that meets all the requirements, your dog may not take in as much as its body needs. Thus, it will suffer nutritional deficiency eventually.
In a concluding remark, vegetarian diets are healthy – to a certain extent. However, they may deprive your dog of certain essential requirements. If you must serve your companion with vegetarian dog food, ensure that it takes it in sufficient quantities, and that it has all the essential nutritional requirements.
Hi milly w,
You forgot that many people become vegetarians because they are ethically opposed to the raising and/or slaughtering of animals for food. This is why I became a vegetarian.
I feed my dog’s pasture raised meats and wild caught fish because I worry about the suffering I could be causing by depriving our pets of their natural and species appropriate diets.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by USA.
Yeah, thank you for reminding me that point, those people who are vegetarians can not completely deprive their pets of natural diets or nutritional requirements.
I know this topic is old, but I just wanted to say that I think this is an amazing post. I am vegetarian (not vegan) but I would never make a dog be vegetarian unless they were suffering from some horrible medical condition that requires them to be vegetarian. I tell people that for dogs it can be done, if the person makes their own food and makes sure there is enough of each nutrient, but it is generally a bad idea. For cats, no way, not a good idea in any way, shape, or form.
My friends dog had been acting very sluggish for a couple of months. So my friend decided to start feeding the dog vegetarian food. She had a good eating plan for him. The result… he’s running around like a puppy. BTW, I think he was about 10+ years old.
I have been a vegetarian for many years and recently became vegan. Why? the more I learn of the cruelty inflicted on animals whether it be for their meat or their milk or eggs, the less I can ethically choose to eat products that are produced through their suffering. This ethics applies to my dogs as well. They have been on a vegan diet now for years, and are all extremely healthy, active and sound. I have been reading all these posts, and trying to figure out if I should feel guilty that I’m “depriving” my dogs of what some people posting have said is their “carnivorous” nature. I can humbly say that I don’t know. I can’t ask them. I know that they seem happy and healthy. If there were a meat or fish based dog food that were made without causing suffering to animals, either in the production or testing, I would gladly switch. But just like there does not appear to be any humane way to prevent suffering to animals, and still consume them or their products, I don’t believe there is such a product made for animals. I would like to hear from others who have successfully raised healthy, active dogs on vegan diets. I see people become quite heated in their opinions when remarking on this site, and I would ask that anyone responding to my post do so respectfully.
I think eggs are one of the easiest to source cruelty free animal proteins. I know many many people who have chickens who are probably treated better than many people’s dogs – cuddled, fed organic food, given healthy living spaces and room to roam and forage, and kept and loved well beyond their egg bearing years. Also, naturally shed antlers are a great cruelty free animal product that can help satisfy a dog’s need to chew.
I am excited about this new meat that does not use the killing of animals, it is made by Memphis Meats, maybe there are more doing it but that is the one I know of. It uses cells to make the meats, go look it up, see what you think. I know I will like for my pets not to have to kill to feed them.
I know this is an old post, but felt like I should share my 2 cents, I was a RVT for a number of yes and have an AS in vet med as well as food allergy dogs.
I can say first hand food allergies are not as uncommon as you may think. Dogs, unlike people are RARELY allergic to grains, but instead the protein source.
Does this mean that any meat food is bad for allergy dogs? No, but you need a uncommon meat source, I.e. duck, rabbit, etc.
Also, contrary to what many believe, dogs are in fact not carnivores, they are omnivores like humans. Meaning they, like us can be healthy with or without meat.
Feeding a dog a vegetarian diet? I did it with mine for the first 5 years of his life an he thrived on it. He one time got into a friends bag of chicken based dog food and oh boy did he proceed to rip himself up until his legs and stomach were lobster red. I’ll note that he was put on a limited ingredient duck and barley food at age five because after being attacked by a loose dog and suffering head and neck injuries he began having sound induced petite mal seizures and the vet recommended a diet very high in flax seed and fatty acids (which made a significant improvement). Point being he was not take off the veg diet because he was doing poorly on it.
Should you research the vegetarian food brand before starting it? Absolutely. As should you research ANY dog food brand beforehand. There are plenty of non-veg dog foods out there that are lacking in nutrients that your dog needs.
So I’m seeing a lot of news on shelters evaluating vegan dog foods to lessen the impact on the environment. Any thoughts?
A vegetarian diet is not a good idea for a dog, in general.
Unless the dog has a specific medical condition that requires a vegetarian diet.
In that case, I believe the nutritional needs of the dog may be met by carefully choosing a commercial or prescription food that a veterinarian that has examined the dog approves of.
Or better yet, a veterinary nutritionist (not homeopathic)
Then, frequent wellness checks that include lab work etc.
Strange how we are forcing (mostly) carnivorous animals to be vegan when we still have ppl running around talking about how great murdered animals are how they can’t wait to eat them. Let’s instead try and change ourselves (we don’t need meat and it has been studied too much that we actually show negative side effects with meat in our diet) we make a greater impact than our animals do
This is a really interesting discussion. It’s hard to give an opinion about this issues. But I always give myself to think about the nature of each creature. Dog in nature and their ancestor, not a vegetarian. That is the fact and also how nature is work. The food chain is there, and for the human part, we are destined to eat what we can eat.
I think vegetarians diets are not good because they don’t contain taurine unless the company supplements it in the food. But dogs need meat for the natural occurring taurine. This is a vital nutrient. They only way a dog should be feed a veg diet is if the vet says so for medical reasons.
I’ve love to see a reputable, believable poll on how many vegetarian/vegan dogs are owned by vegetarian/vegan owners.
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