People are searching for more sustainable and healthy alternatives to former ways of life. Many dog parents are including their furry family members in their new lifestyles.
Vegetarian diets can change a person’s entire health profile and naturally, all dog parents want the best for their canine companions. Whether dogs can be vegetarian is a concern for many dog owners.
Dog treat and food brands answered dog owners’ concerns and now offer vegetarian alternatives. But what are the benefits? Is it safe? What’s the healthiest protein for dogs? Keep reading to find out if your dog can be a vegetarian.
Are Dogs Carnivores?
For some dog parents, even asking if your dog can be a vegetarian seems silly. It’s common knowledge that dogs are descendants of wolves and these wild canines are carnivores. Or so we’ve been told! Wolves and most canids are more omnivorous. They eat berries, some grasses, and other plant matter along with carrion or fresh kills.
So do dogs take after their wild canine relatives? Yes, dogs are omnivores and their pancreas doesn’t have to work overtime to break down fruits and vegetables. Dogs can’t process plant matter like raw oats or hay because they don’t have gut bacteria and enzymes to break it down. But horses and other ungulates (hooved animals) have the bacteria and digestive system to process straw and leaves.
Can Dogs Be Vegetarian?
Wolves and dogs are omnivorous, but through domestication, dogs’ digestive systems process starches better than their wild relatives. Dogs also don’t need lots of protein amino acids and easily absorb vitamins A and D through plants, similar to omnivorous humans! Can dogs be vegetarian? Yes, but experts say only with a carefully planned diet.
Dogs can be vegetarian as long as their diets meet all their nutritional needs. Strictly plant-based vegetarian dog foods may lack vital nutrients. Vegetarian dog foods with egg or dairy proteins are less likely to severely lack nutrients.
If you’re looking for guilt-free and plant-based treats, try some of our Soft-Baked, Grain-Free Pumpkin Treats! They’re full of vegetarian-friendly fiber and heart-healthy vitamins!
What are the risks of Vegetarian Dog Food?
It makes sense that dog parents want to shift their dog to a vegetarian diet for ethical reasons. No one wants animals to suffer and cut down carbon emissions. But a dog can be vegetarian only under the right circumstances. Consulting a veterinary nutritionist before switching your dog to a vegetarian diet will eliminate some risks.
Vegetarian dogs sometimes have protein, amino acid, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies. A carefully planned vegetarian diet for your dog is imperative. If your dog’s nutritional needs are unmet for too long, your dog will develop permanent health conditions. Veterinarians warn against taurine deficiency.
Some conditions from low taurine include:
- Eye problems
- Reproductive and growth problems
- Canine dilated cardiomyopathy
Veterinary nutritionists often plan special diets for certain health conditions, like food allergies or certain diseases. Your dog can be vegetarian and need supplements with proper amounts of necessary nutrients. If you plan to feed your dog a homemade vegetarian diet, consult your veterinarian.
Consult the Professionals and Choose what works
Many dog parents want to do the best for their four-legged friends and the planet. Professionals in the pet world understand dog parents’ concerns and can guide you through the process. Dogs can be vegetarians with specialized diets for their health conditions and veterinary nutritionists have the safest solutions for your fur baby!
If you want to please your pup’s expansive pallet, we also have Soft-Baked, Grain-Free Bacon Treats! Keep the treats coming when you sign up for our newsletter and save up to 10% and enjoy free shipping for all orders over $40!