Is A Plant-Based Diet Right For Your Pooch?

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Most pet owners are extremely dedicated to their fur babies and want to provide the best for them as far as nutrition goes, but new studies show that what your parents think they know about our diets may not be completely accurate.

While many pet parents associate a pet’s protein with meat or chicken, research shows that animals can thrive on vegan diets and, in some cases, can even improve their health. Of course, vegetarian diets are nothing new for some animals, but in general, most Americans feed their fur babies protein-based food.

Show of paws if you love a meaty treat now and again, I know I do! But fruits and veggies keep our diet balanced, even if you do sneak them to us under the table.

“There’s no question; the next evolution of plant-based living is ‘positively’ going to the dogs. You don’t have to be a futurist to see the massive trend toward sustainable agriculture and plant-based diets for humans. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s only natural for all the right reasons that we will extend our dietary habits to our dogs, since they’re considered non-obligate carnivores,” says Dogg Canine Nutrition Company founder Laura Simonson.

Of course, it’s wise not to change your doggo’s diet until you consult his veterinarian, especially if there are ailments at play that could be made worse by big changes; many animals are prone to anxiety when they experience a lifestyle change. However, for some animals who suffer from gastrointestinal issues, a plant-based diet could be just the thing to help them feel better. We may despise the vet, but if it helps our bellies we’re all for it, along with a good tummy scratch!

“The most exciting improvements we saw were in those pets with food hypersensitivities problems demonstrated as either skin or gastrointestinal ailments. In small animal veterinary medicine this subset of patients account for a large majority of the cases we see everyday, therefore having an extra tool at our disposal to manage these animals is greatly welcomed,” says veterinarian Gavin Myers of the study.

Yet not everyone is sold on the idea of feeding a pet a completely plant-based diet, especially when it comes to dogs and cats. One vet, Cailin Heinze, says it goes against the animals’ natures and can be detrimental to their growth and development, especially if started at a young age.

“For cats, it’s really inappropriate. It goes against their physiology and isn’t something I would recommend at all. For dogs, certainly vegetarian and vegan diets can be done, but they need to be done very, very carefully. There is a lot of room for error, and these diets probably are not as appropriate as diets that contain at least some animal protein," Heinze told WebMD.

Basically, it’s important to think of your fur friend’s diet the same way you think of yours: big changes can cause big problems depending on the breed, but for the most part, introducing a plant-based diet can be just fine if it’s handled properly. Talk to your veterinarian about your ideas to get a feel for whether it’s right for your pet and how you might introduce a new diet to him without causing problems. We wouldn’t say no to a treat for our troubles either!

If you don’t already have a pet and are thinking of getting one that can survive and thrive on a vegan diet, consider a hamster, guinea pig, bird, or certain types of reptile. These animals love seeds, nuts, grasses, and grains and have no interest in eating meat.

Before you start us on a vegan diet, check with a professional to make sure it’s safe, no woofs about it. Change is good, but make sure it’s a good change, like maybe a new squeaky toy?

Author: Bernie the Boxer