Should you give your pup a plant-based diet?

Should you give your pup a plant-based diet? This is what a veterinarian says
Your four-legged friend needs proper nutrition to thrive.

Feeding her puppy plant-based meals.

Feeding her puppy plant-based meals.

There are so many different diets for humans, and two that are becoming increasingly popular are veganism and vegetarianism. The Mayo Clinic explains that a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Diabetes and even certain cancers. (There are environmental benefits, too.) But different dog diets are also becoming fashionable, and some people are opting to feed their pooches plant-based meals.

How to feed your puppy

There are now vegan dog food brands and owners that showcase their pet’s meatless diet. (A quick simple search of Instagram shows several hashtags focused on vegan dogs that have tens of thousands of posts.) Sure, a plant-based lifestyle can be good for you. But when it comes to your pup, you shouldn’t feed him meatless meals. Says Katy Nelson, DVM, associate veterinarian at Belle Haven Animal Medical Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Dogs can certainly survive on a vegetarian or vegan diet. But they’re not necessarily going to thrive on it,” she says. The reason? “Their body needs protein and essential amino acids derived from meat. That’s all there is to it,” Nelson said.

A plant-based diet

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Indeed, Nelson’s explanation echoes a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. This assessed the health of dogs on a plant-based diet. The authors note that their “greatest concern with strictly plant-based diets is the sufficiency of essential amino acids. May also include nutrients that are primarily derived from animal-derived ingredients”. Some of these nutrients include total protein and vitamins A, B12 and D.

Are dogs best fed as carnivores

Are dogs best fed as carnivores

While yes, you can add these compounds from an “outside, synthetic” supplement, Nelson doesn’t like that idea. “It worries me that as we try to be more holistic with our diet, and we try to be more organic, that by doing something like this, we actually have to introduce artificial sources,” explains she. . She recommends buying protein-rich pet foods. Low in carbohydrates and containing fruits, green vegetables and cereals. She thinks dogs are best fed as carnivores, although, she notes, they are technically omnivores.

“I think we need to get back to the middle of our eating philosophy. We stick with what we know works. That is, a meat-based diet with green vegetables, grains and fruits, and trying to stay away from all chemical additives,” she says.

Increased interest in diets

Increased interest in diets

Nelson admits that she has recently seen an increased interest in plant-based diets for dogs. She thinks it started with animals allergic to the usual proteins found in pet food. Namely fish, chicken, beef and sometimes lamb. However, Nelson notes that even in these cases there are other options for them that don’t cut the meat. “I’ve been a vet for 18 years and I’ve never recommended a vegetarian diet to any of my patients,” she reveals. “If my patients have severe allergies, I generally seek out… Either a new source of protein for them or a prescription diet.”

“There is no perfect diet

Whether you think your dog might have a food allergy or want to introduce new foods to their diet. Nelson says it’s imperative to see your vet first and work with them. “There’s no perfect diet, but there just might be one perfect for your pet,” she says.

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