Adopting a vegan lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your health. With the ongoing battle against obesity, it’s never been more important to take charge of your eating choices. After all, not only is a healthy diet good for your body and the environment, it’s good for your wallet too.
Although we all know the benefits eating vegan foods can bring us, can those same benefits be enjoyed by man’s best friend?
We’re told that dogs need a balanced diet that includes animal-based products to stay healthy, but isn’t that the same line we’re told as humans?
So the question is, what should you actually feed your pet? Is a vegan diet actually better for our furry companions? If you want your whole household to be more plant oriented, read on to see if Fido can join in as well.
Dogs Can Be Vegan
Some animals just aren’t built for eating plants. They may be physically able to gobble up a plate of greens, but it won’t do anything for them healthwise. In fact, a vegan lifestyle may actually harm them, especially if they are carnivores.
However, dogs are a different story. Unlike their meat-loving peers, dogs can not only live, but thrive, on a plant-based diet. A shiny healthy coat, less dander and shedding, and good smelling breath are only a few of things that vegan dogs share. This is because dogs are omnivores, obtaining nutrients from both plant and animal products.
Some people believe dogs to be carnivores since their wolfish ancestors are, but this simply isn’t true. Due to the close relationship humans have with pets — often sharing the food they have with animals — dogs developed a digestive system that was suitable for both meat and plants. I am firmly planted in the dogs are omnivores camp, but for additional information check out this article about dogs as carnivores, this article about dogs as omnivores and this tufts university article by Dr. Cailin Heinze, who holds a veterinary degree as well as a Master’s degree in nutrition.
Although dogs can live long and happy lives as vegans, it’s best to start out slowly and incorporate vegan food bit by bit in their current diet so their bodies and tastes have time to adjust. This advice is suggested whenever you introduce your pet to a new diet.
It’s Not All Mung and Grains
Whatever the reason you want your pet to consume a plant-based diet — whether it be to fully express your vegan beliefs or improve your dog’s health — there are a myriad of things to take into account before making the transition. Just like people need to research their dietary choices to make sure they get all the nutrients they need, the same must be done for our pets.
The pitfalls of veganism for both humans and dogs is making sure you don’t unknowingly deprive yourselves of the nutrients you need. Even if you find the most optimal meal plans for yourself, you still can’t feed the same thing to your pet since a dog’s nutritional needs vary from humans.
If your dog’s diet lacks the major vitamins and minerals that keep them healthy, it can lead to serious health problems that can result in permanent damage or even death. So to give your pooch a life-giving diet instead of life-taking one, it’s best to read the labels on your dog food and the ingredients in homemade recipes to check if it meets all their dietary needs.
Things to Consider
That being said, it’s a good idea to consult with a pet nutritionist on meal ideas as well as whether or not the food you’re currently feeding your dog is well balanced. These professionals will know how to help you make the best and safest food choices for your canine.
Also look up if the food you buy — if commercial — is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO.org). This organization performs feeding trials on food specifically for animals to check for quality and safety. Some veterinarians can prescribe a specially made plant-based dog food blend as well if your dog happens to be allergic to animal proteins.
If that’s the case, a vegan diet will be a definite lifesaver for your pet. Although it goes without saying, if you decide to make your own vegan puppy chow, don’t include any foods that are poisonous to dogs. We may love a bowl of grapes or macadamia nuts, but our dogs certainly won’t.
It’s also a good idea to visit the vet more often to make sure there aren’t any deficiencies in your pup’s diet. To avoid this, look into supplements of essential nutrients that can be especially hard to come by in a vegan dog diet.
With plant-based foods on the rise, people are beginning to wonder if this trend is also healthy for their dogs. When done properly, dogs can enjoy a great vegan life, especially if it suffers from food allergies. In the end, though, you must put your animal’s health before your own dietary wants and desires.
If your dog does not react well to the food it’s eating, you’ll need to reconsider if what you’re feeding them is actually healthy. We all want what’s best for man’s best friend, so by doing your research, you can know for sure that both you and your dog are eating the foods you should.
Featured Image by PourquoiPas.