The question can dogs be vegetarian might be very controversial but the technical answer to this question is, yes. Dogs can be vegetarian or even go on a vegan diet.
Even though it is well known that dogs are carnivores as they are similar to their wolf ancestors, this does not mean that they need to eat meat to survive. Dogs are part of the Carnivora order just like the giant pandas but these pandas eat bamboo plants almost exclusively.
The digestive systems of canines are capable of deriving nutrients from fruits as well as vegetables.
Meat-Free Diet For Dogs
Some dogs have allergic reactions to animal proteins. Veterinarians and even licensed pet nutritionists prescribe a meat-free diet to treat these types of dogs. This is essential to those dogs who have health problems and allergies.
In line with this, it is highly critical that only a professional shall design and supervise a dog food plan without animal fats and proteins.
So, if you think that your dog needs this meat-free diet, consult with your veterinarian before taking any drastic measures as this could be dangerous to your pet’s health if not properly organized.
The Dangers Of A Meat-Free Diet
Licensed veterinary nutritionists also have a hard time when coming up with a meat-free diet for dogs. The canine digestive system is quite tricky on this one. Yes, they can extract nutrition from plant matter but it has an easier time in processing animal matter.
Antioxidants and vitamins that fruits and vegetables provide can help a dog but they still lack amounts of protein and fat.
Protein in particular is derived from actual animal products such as elastin, keratin, and collagen. They are all essential for muscles, joints, and even for healthy skin. This is hard to derive from a meat-free diet.
The main point is that if you don’t get proper guidance from a licensed veterinary nutritionist and you decide to make your dog vegetarian or vegan, it could lead to potential malnutrition or health complications.
The Gut’s Important Role
The gut of your dog is responsible for 70% of its immune system. It works as the top defense mechanism that combats toxins. It absorbs nutrition that helps fuel the body to survive as well as fight the whole aging process. Having a healthy gut is highly essential for any dog.
You need to understand that there are components of food that could damage the intestinal lining of dogs. The most common of these are proteins that can be found in GMO and unsprouted grains that also contain huge amounts of nutrient blockers that are called lectins and phytates.
Lectins work as the defense system of plants. It acts as natural antifungals and anti-parasitics. This helps defend plants but can cause negative effects on dogs. Lectins damage a dog’s gut lining and could lead to inflammation.
A dog’s gut has junctions in its gut lining that keep toxins out of the bloodstream.
Feeding Your Dog If You’re A Vegan
If you are vegan and still want to give the best for your dog, you need to consider your canine’s natural needs. If you only aim to extend your lifestyle to your dog, you should consider important aspects such as your dog’s health and digestive system first.
If you are being torn apart by your morals or principles but aim to provide your dogs with what’s best for them, you should consider professional advice from your local veterinarian.
Your local vet can help find ways by directing you towards a handful of quality dog foods that utilize dairy or eggs as substitutes for meat. You may also consider compromising by letting your dog eat fish-based food.
Another option is to try shopping around for high-quality dog foods that have proven humanely sourced meats along with ethically sourced vegetables and fruits.
Advice On Vegan Diet For Dogs
Understanding proteins is the first step. All proteins are not the same. There are different varieties of proteins as they consist of smaller amino acid units. These constitute the variations of proteins.
To live a healthy life, dogs need the proper amount and range of these varying amino acids. Every type of protein has a significant role. One example is collagen. It functions to ensure that the connective tissues of dogs stay flexible.
Different breeds would need different protein qualities and quantities. For example, small dogs would need more energy, and that requires higher quantities of protein and fats to achieve optimal health. That would be difficult to achieve from a vegan diet or a meat-free diet alone. This goes the same with pregnant dogs and puppies.
Some proteins do not naturally occur in plants. Elastin and collagen are found in the skin. Keratin can be found in hair and nails. This just means that a plant-based diet would make it hard to meet all of your dog’s dietary needs.
This is why it is being constantly reiterated here that a veterinary-trained nutritionist is required to plan the meals. There are lots of careful considerations that must be done to secure a safe and healthy approach to a meat-free diet.
Can dogs be vegetarian? Technically, yes. However, dogs can achieve optimal health if they receive all the important nutrients that their body needs especially when they are still puppies.
There are certain nutrients such as variations of protein that cannot be ultimately gained from an entirely plant-based diet. This is the challenge of making a dog a vegetarian (note that vegetarians do eat animal derived products such as cheese, milk and eggs) or vegan (100% plant based).
If you only aim to extend your lifestyle or principles towards your dog. It would be smart to keep in mind the bigger picture, which is your dog’s health. Yes, you can consult with a seasoned veterinarian and nutritionist but this does not guarantee that your dog will thrive on a meat-free diet.
The digestive system of a dog and the gut, in particular, is the most affected part of your dog’s body and it also helps protect the immune system of your canine.
Making this choice should be taken with careful consideration and lots of planning. Dogs have been eating meat for centuries and the energy and nutrition they acquire from meat also helps them achieve optimal health.