Vegetarian diets for dogs: the pros and cons
Dogs love eating meat, right? But what if you’re considering feeding your dog a vegetarian diet? Can it be done, and if so, is it healthy for your dog?
There are lots of reasons that you might be considering a vegetarian diet for your dog. Perhaps your dog has allergies to meat, or you want to reduce the environmental impact your dog has by changing their diet. Whatever your reasons, you need all the facts before making any changes to their diet, so you know you’re doing the right thing by your dog.
Can dogs survive on a completely vegetarian diet?
Most dogs are fed a diet with a high percentage of meat, but they are not obligate carnivores. In fact, they’re omnivores, meaning they can digest a range of food, including grains and vegetables.
But can they thrive on a vegetarian diet?
Theoretically, dogs could survive on a vegetarian diet when it’s done properly, such as by working with a canine nutritionist and using commercial vegetarian dog food.
However, it’s difficult to get the balance right and very easy to get it wrong – with serious consequences for your dog’s health if you do.
Will dogs eat a vegetarian diet?
One of the major struggles with feeding a vegetarian diet is palatability. Dogs who have previously been used to meat may turn their nose up at vegetarian food, even if they are used to eating vegetables as a snack.
For the more stubborn dogs, their refusal to eat the food could eventually lead to nutrient deficiencies and even malnutrition.
Are commercial vegetarian foods for dogs good?
Commercially available vegetarian foods for dogs have only recently become widely available, but are still very much in their infancy. Before feeding these diets to your dog, you should speak to your vet or a canine nutritionist, and ensure the food has been approved as a ‘complete’ food by the PFMA.
Without these assurances, you may be risking feeding your dog a diet that does not meet their key nutritional needs.
What alternatives are there to vegetarian diets for dogs?
Depending on your reasons for wanting to feed a vegetarian diet in the first place, there is a range of other options:
Your dog has allergies to certain meat proteins – talk to your vet about hypoallergenic diets specifically tailored to your dog, or work with a canine nutritionist to develop a balanced and healthy homemade dog food.
You are concerned about the impact of your dog’s food on the environment – whilst there is no doubt that the meat industry has a significant impact on the environment, there are dog food companies taking steps to reduce the overall impact that the production of pet food has.
PitPat Food is created by our partners Josera who were recently awarded ‘Most Sustainable Brand’ by the Pet Sustainability Coalition Awards. This means all PitPat Food is made in a fully carbon-neutral factory, with ingredients from sustainable sources.
You could even look into the emerging trend for insect-based protein in dog food, which provides a good, source of protein with a much lower carbon footprint than traditional dog foods.
You have ethical concerns about raising animals for slaughter and eating meat – as an animal lover, it’s perfectly reasonable to be upset by the thought of any animals being raised for slaughter. However, it’s important to balance your own decision not to eat meat with the needs of your dog. Whilst human beings can live very healthy lives on vegetarian or vegan diets, the same is not necessarily true for our dogs. Often the best choice for your dog means they will need to eat meat.
Why not try and ensure that it is sourced from farms with high ethical standards? For example, the ingredients in PitPat Food are not only sustainable but the meat content is sourced from animals fit for human consumption, from farms that meet stringent EU regulations for animal welfare.
Choosing a diet for your dog is tricky. Almost as tricky as knowing how much to feed them. With the PitPat app, you can get a tailored feeding recommendation based on your dog’s age, weight, breed, and, if they have a PitPat Dog Activity Monitor, their activity levels. Download it for free today and join the feeding revolution!