Will a Meatless Diet Jeopardize Your Dog’s Health?
As farmers’ markets blossom with a wider assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables during the summer months, many families choose to spice up the dinner menu with occasional vegetarian meals. But can the family dog handle a vegetarian diet?
In general, dogs are omnivorous. They eat meat, fish and poultry, but also can derive nutrients from a wide variety of sources, including vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes.
There are risks associated with placing your dog on a vegan diet:
- He won’t get all the protein he needs.
- He’ll experience and imbalance of certain amino acids, such as taurine and L-carnitine.
- He’ll suffer a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
To offset these risks, you must add supplements to your dog’s vegan or vegetarian diet. There are several supplements on the market but it is critically important to select one that provides taurine, L-carnitine and vitamin B-12.
A commercial vegetarian diet can alleviate your concerns about dietary imbalances. If you choose to purchase a natural diet for your dog, make sure it’s free of animal and plant byproducts, and such chemicals as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin.
However, keep in mind that in the wild, dogs prefer animal-based protein. It’s important that they eat a diet that most closely resembles what they would eat if hunting on their own.
Most veterinarians strongly advise against feeding a vegan diet to a puppy and suggest that you schedule more frequent wellness exams, including blood work, for dogs on vegan diets.