Veganism continues to rise in popularity as consumers learn more about the negative impacts of factory farming and the health benefits of vegan diets. Eating meat isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but industrial farming definitely has its fair share of downsides. 2 in 3 farm animals in the world are now factory farmed and worldwide about 70 billion farm animals are reared for food each year. This number is staggering when you think about the waste that these factory farms produce. Confining so many animals in one place produces much more waste than the surrounding land can handle. As a result, factory farms are associated with various environmental hazards, such as water, land, and air pollution. These animals are fed corn, wheat, and soy that are grown through intensive industrial farming that uses large amounts of pesticides, which can remain in their bodies and are passed on to the people, and pups, that eat them. These can cause serious health hazards in humans and some health hazards in dogs.
Whether you are a closet carnivore or a staunch vegan, we can all agree that factory farming has its downsides. Every dog has their dietary needs and, as pet parents, we need to make sure that these needs are met. In the past, most veterinarians and canine dieticians worked under the assumption that all dogs were carnivores and that meat was an integral part of their diet. While a meat-based diet is still the best way to ensure that your pup has all the nutrients they need, new research into canine dietary needs has found that properly structured canine veganism is an option. This article will discuss what we know about canine veganism as well as the overall risks and benefits of switching your pup over to a vegan diet.
For years pet care specialists and veterinarians worked under the assumption that dogs, like cats, are pure carnivores. Recent studies have shown that this isn’t quite the truth. Dogs are actually fully capable of extracting the nutrients they need from plant-based sources. In fact, dogs are more accurately categorized as omnivores than carnivores. Wolves, a close relative of the modern domesticated dog, are carnivores and this is often part of the argument for why dogs should eat meat. Carnivores are their closest relation and so it would make sense that dogs are carnivores as well. However, recent studies show that one of the key things that differentiate dogs from wolves is that dogs are much more capable of digesting starches. This doesn’t mean that veganism is a perfect fit for dogs, but it does mean that dogs are capable of living on a vegan diet composed fully of plant matter. At this point, most of the arguments for doggie veganism are theoretical, as veganism has not been a trend in dog nutrition for that long and there have not been that many field studies conducted.
There are two key issues with dog veganism at this moment. For starters, it is difficult to find a vegan diet that perfectly fits each dog’s nutritional requirements. Each dog is different and those differences are only amplified between dog breeds. This means that when putting your dog on a vegan diet you must work closely with a veterinarian and a nutritionist to construct the diet and frequently check to make sure that your pup is getting all the nutrients he/she needs to live a full and healthy life. The other issue is that the vegan pet food/treat industry is just beginning and standards are still being established. There are some tested and approved brands but because this form of dog food is so new, there are not that many on the market. The end result of both of these issues is that dog veganism is possible if you are willing to put in the time and effort, but, at this point, feeding your dog a balanced diet with some animal products is the safest way to guarantee that they are happy and healthy.
The biggest benefit of vegan dog food is knowing that your dogs’ diet is not contributing to the issues related to factory farming. There are also nutritional benefits. Vegan foods are allergen friendly which is beneficial for dogs that have minor allergies to chicken, beef, and eggs. These allergies can cause skin rashes and other minor discomforts that can be alleviated by a vegan diet. Vegan foods are also easily digestible, which is great for pups with sensitive stomachs. Vegan foods are also anti-inflammatory and can help with improving your pups energy levels and managing their weight.
Do you have any thoughts on vegan diets for dogs? Has your pup ever tried vegan dog food? Let us know on social media!