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Vegetarians often tend to wonder whether meat-free meals are a good idea for every member of the household – including pets. Good pet health depends a lot on nutrition. For cats and dogs, that usually implies no “people food”, and specially balanced canned or commercial dry pet food. How far can you go to make your pet's diet plant-based?It is a national debate, with a lot of veterinarians strictly against vegetarian diets even as the Humane Society made their vegan adult food commercially available. The first thing a pet owner should know is that dogs can digest a diet that is entirely plant-based. Dogs are omnivores (like humans), which means they can eat anything.Advantages and disadvantages of a vegetarian diet
Protein is a major concern when charting a vegetarian diet plan for your pet. A lot of the manufacturers use beans or soy products to add protein. The pros of a vegetarian diet for your pet is mainly about your principles. It means:
- You will have more knowledge and how the food was processed than your friends who haven't researched alternative food sources.
- You might have greater knowledge about the ingredients in the food.
- You get to support manufacturing processes that don't kill other animals to feed your pet.
However, there are considerable drawbacks too in choosing to go completely vegetarian. These include:
- The pet food will not taste as good to your pet.
- If not properly constructed, the pet food can be lacking in certain essential nutrients and fatty acids.
- It might be more expensive for pet owners to construct a completely vegetarian and healthy food plan, as specialty products cost more.
Cats require animal sources of minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids even more so than dogs. For instance, it is not possible for cats to obtain vitamin A from plants. In all fairness, it is hard to say whether a vegetarian diet would work for cats or dogs as there have been no long-term studies of such diets. Ensure that any commercial pet food you buy has gone through a feeding trial by the AAFCO.Supplements
If your dog is getting a nutritionally balanced diet, and is fit and energetic, he does not need supplements. However, if you are of the opinion that he is not getting the necessary nutrition from his vegetarian diet, supplements are the best option
. Keep in mind that minerals, especially, should not be given to your pet unless they are prescribed by the vet. Calcium too hinders bone formation and can cause damage to cartilage and maturing joints in puppies, and zinc can be toxic in excess quantities. Excess vitamin A can damage the blood vessels, whereas excess vitamin D can cause the muscles to atrophy. So, it is best to consult your veterinarian before going down that road.