Evolution Vs Beliefs
As the amount of different diets and food movements continue to increase in the human world, many pet owners are now looking to also feed their dog’s an alternate diet, with two of the most popular being Vegetarian or Vegan.
Animal lovers often believe a Vegan or Vegetarian diet for their pet is a good choice, but they could not be more wrong.
Evidence suggests that predominantly plant-based diets which contain little or no meat are better for the environment as well as offer other health benefits. A recent study has found that more and more pet owners either want to, or are already feeding their dogs and cats Vegetarian or Vegan diets, however be aware that meat free diets can potentially sicken or even kill your pet.
The Proof is in the Gut
Through thousands of years of natural evolution, dogs and cats have always been natural carnivores. The shape of their teeth and length of their gut are indicators of the kind of diet that they require for optimal and good health. Herbivores, or plant eating animals like Cows have long faces to accommodate flat teeth, and their large bellies contain long, complicated gut systems which break down the harder-to-digest plants that dominate their diets.
On the other hand, dogs and cats differ in their physiological makeup, being naturally carnivorous species. They have sharp pointy teeth for biting into and grounding down tough meat, and their digestive tracts are short and simple, as the meat that they predominantly eat is high in nutrients and easily digestible.
Interestingly, humans being omnivorous, meaning our digestive systems fit in between the two, have long but simple intestines. We can live healthily on both animal and animal-free products, from meaty steak to beetroot based cacao cupcakes with cashew nut butter and avocado icing… whatever floats your boat.
To stay healthy, vegans and vegetarians have the luxury of supplementing their diet with vitamins such as B12 and minerals like calcium, zinc and extra iron that they may be missing out on from not eating meat, however for dogs whose diets are devoid of certain animal fats and proteins, it can actually be quite dangerous, effecting growth, development, cognition and function of vital organs.
But I am adamant my pooch is a Vegan!
The evolution of the domestic dog means that although they still have traditional carnivorous anatomy, dogs have cleverly developed adaptions for living alongside of us humans and eating our scraps. As a result, dogs can live a healthy omnivorous diet which includes both plants and meat.
However, dogs still need to eat an easily digestible diet that is rich in protein so that nutrients can be rapidly absorbed into their bodies. Proteins derived from animal products, like collagen, elastin and keratin — all of which are vital for healthy skin, muscles and joints — are difficult, if not impossible, to derive from a vegan diet.
If, as a pawrent, you are absolutely adamant that your pup is fed a vegan diet due to ethical reasons, then we suggest consulting a Veterinarian Nutritionist who can help develop a carefully designed diet to minimize health risks and malnutrition.
The bottom line Dogs thrive off a combination of meat, as well as plant-based diets. Despite the fact that humans can live off whatever diet suits our ethics and lifestyle at the time, the same cannot be said for dogs. It is prudent to consult a specialist Veterinary Nutritionist who can help formulate a meal plan to provide all the minerals, nutrients and essentials your pup needs for optimal health.
Here at Blackdog, we love all types of pooches and will never discriminate. Whether your dog is vegan, carnivorous, pescetarian, curious or just plain confused with all of these options- we have the treats to accommodate… sweet potato, bones, jerkies, fish, veggie ears, meat meat and meat, lactose free milk or oven baked biscuits, if you can’t find a delicious tasty and healthy snack, perhaps you are barking up the wrong tree?