A popular diet nowadays is the vegetarian diet. People on the diet live off only plant-based and dairy products and do not eat any meat. People become vegetarian to either lose weight and/or be healthier or for concern for the welfare of animals. However, many people may want to put their dogs on a vegetarian diet as well. The main concern is can dogs be vegetarian and is it healthy for them?
One of the main reasons a dog may need to go on a vegetarian diet is allergies. Many dogs are allergic to different types of meat. Some of the most common meats they are allergic to are beef, chicken, and shellfish. They can even be allergic to soy and milk as well and may need a vegan diet. Some of the signs your dog may have a food allergy are vomiting, diarrhea, inflamed skin, and more. For more information on this topic, read our article, “Pets and Allergies”.
One study has shown that it is indeed possible for a dog to become a vegetarian. However, there are many drawbacks. One of the biggest drawbacks of a plant-based diet for dogs is nutrient deficiencies. Meat contains a lot of vital nutrients that dogs need. This is also true for cats. A plant-based diet for cats is pretty much out of the question since they are strictly carnivores. However, owners can find ways to make sure their dogs get the nutrients they need. One of the main vitamins that dogs lack when on a plant-based diet is vitamin D. They get vitamin D from meat, so finding ways to supplement this nutrient can be tricky. Even giving a dog too much vitamin D can be toxic or fatal.
Luckily, there are pet food companies that have formulated plant-based diets. While there is not too much information yet, many have been formulated to be well-balanced. There are also pet supplements available that can be given to your pet under the supervision of your vet. Many pet owners even make homemade food for their dogs. These dogs are especially at risk for a nutrient deficiency if they are not carefully prepared to be well-balanced.
Whether dogs can be vegetarian is still being debated, but evidence has shown that dogs can be meat-free and healthy. More than anything, owners should keep the health of their dog in mind. If a vegetarian diet is something that would benefit them, then there are options available. However, meat is a natural part of a dog’s diet and does not need to be taken out if they are not allergic.