Can I Put My Dog On A Vegetarian Diet?

As humans, we have an abundance of information available when it comes to our daily meals; where our food comes from, which nutrients it contains, what health (dis)advantages our diet has and so on. We can make a decision about our diet based on scientific facts.

By now, there’s plenty of evidence that a vegetarian diet is perfectly okay for humans and that it has several health benefits when combined with the necessary supplements, such as vitamin B12. I’ve consciously made a choice not to eat meat anymore since 2016 and haven’t had any deficiencies. 😊

The question now is whether our beloved four-legged friend, who descends from the wolf, can follow our lead here. 🌱

Our dogs can sometimes be just as picky or even pickier than us regarding today’s menu. They prefer a certain type of food or have a favourite snack: Naya prefers chicken, while Peluche loves fish. 🐟

It doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore that your dog might prefer a carrot or pumpkin snack. 🎃 Anyone with an apple or cherry tree in their garden knows dogs can’t resist these whenever they fall!

“Grandmother, why do you have such big teeth?” 🐺

Mammals produce an enzyme called amylase. It breaks starch down into quick sugars, which provide energy. This means that dogs are able to digest grains. However, there’s a difference with humans in how it’s done.

People produce amylase in their saliva, which means that we give our digestive system a helping hand when we’re chewing our food.

On the other hand, dogs have no amylase in their saliva and chew their food for less time. In fact, many dogs just gobble up their food in one sitting! So their mouth doesn’t actually help with the breakdown of carbohydrates. Those big teeth are there to tear meat, break bones and be able to eat cartilage. 🍖

Eat your veggies! 🥦

A change in diet has an impact on the digestive system. Meat digests much faster than grains and plants. This is one of the reasons why a cow has four stomachs. The grass she eats has to be chewed several times before it can be digested. 🐄

Compared to humans, dogs have a relatively short digestive system. This means that they don’t digest food the same way. They can’t process vegetable food as we can.

Plants contain cellulose. It’s a building block for the cell wall of the plant. Cellulose is challenging for dogs to break down. For example, if your dog ate raw carrots, you’ll find whole carrot pieces in his stool. 🥕 If you cook vegetables first, the cellulose degrades more easily.

Although dogs digest meat much better, different types of fruit and vegetables are good for them when given in moderation. 🍌 A healthy diet should consist of 80% animal parts, and 20% plant parts.

Follow your gut

The intestines are one of the most essential organs in the body. They’re responsible for the proper functioning of the immune system and help remove harmful substances from the body. The intestines absorb nutrients and push waste products out. If you want to know how healthy a diet is for your dog, it’s essential to look at how healthy his gut is.

When dogs follow a vegetarian diet, they will have deficiencies in proteins, calcium and vitamin D. 🌞 Dogs desperately need the two amino acids L-carnitine and taurine. Plant-based foods don’t have enough of these. If your dog lacks these, she’ll develop heart problems that will lead to strokes at an early age.

The quality of the meat is crucial! Pork is a poor choice because it contains way too much fat. 🐷 Give your dog fresh meat that has been approved for human consumption.

We treat our dogs as family, take them anywhere, and even put on jackets and little shoes. Why not give them the best food? 🍗 Fresh food might be costly, but you’ll save on vet bills. And after all, what are a few extra pounds if our dogs can live longer and healthier lives?

Follow the law of nature

Dogs are omnivores. As an animal lover, a vegetarian diet may sound good to you, but you’re not doing your dog any favours; on the contrary!

Being a vegetarian myself, I sometimes get finger-pointed for being a hypocrite since I still feed my dogs meat. Best response? You stop eating meat for the well-being of animals, right? Why would you then harm your dog by giving him food that’s bad for him? If all people become vegetarian or vegan, there would be fewer animals in horrible circumstances. The meat industry was created for humans, not dogs. We could have far fewer animals in much better circumstances, if we only used meat to feed animals that otherwise would have to go out and hunt for themselves. This discussion could continue for days, but I hope you understand my point. 😅

If you want your dog to become a vegetarian just like you, first discuss this thoroughly with your vet. A good follow-up is extremely important if you choose to go through with this.

It may be better for you to get a pet that naturally follows a plant-based diet if feeding meat is against your values. You can also choose only to feed your dog meat that comes from animals that had a nice life. There are several dog food brands that only use free-run chicken, for example. 🐓

Are you a vegetarian yourself? How do you feel about this? Please share your opinion with us in the comments below! ☺

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