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Is a Vegetarian Diet Healthy for Dogs?

vegetarian diet healthy dogsIt is common for dog owners who follow a vegetarian diet to wonder if switching their dog to a meat-free diet is a good idea. While there is a variety of differing opinions about how healthy a vegetarian diet is for dogs, many vets feel it is an acceptable choice as long as it is done correctly. Before you decide, you need to get the facts and talk to your vet to ensure your pet is getting all the nutrition it needs.

Dogs Are Omnivores


Over many thousands of years, dogs have naturally evolved to become more omnivorous. This means dogs can survive on both animal products and non-animal products. It is true that dogs lack some of the digestive enzymes, which are required to break down certain types of plants, but humans also lack enzymes to utilize the nutrients found in some vegetation, like grass. And since dogs can use the nutrients found in a wide range of different grains and other non-animal proteins, it is proper to call a dog an omnivore.

Vegan vs Vegetarian Diet


Some pet owners who switch over from regular pet food to a vegetarian version, are fine with their dogs consuming an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet, while other owners opt for vegan pet food. If you don't already know, an ovo-lactovegetarian diet contains animal products, such as eggs and other forms of dairy, but no meat. On the other hand, a vegan diet consists solely of non-animal products and includes only grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.

Most regular dog foods already contain a large amount of grains and non-animal protein. Even omnivore dogs are already eating mostly non-meat protein in the form of eggs. Therefore, switching over to an ovo-lacto dog food is less extreme than going the vegan route. Regardless of choosing an ovo-lacto or a vegan dog food, the most important part is making sure your dog is getting all the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. Dogs eating either a vegetarian or vegan diet can benefit from one of the commercially available supplements formulated for dogs with these diets.

Remember...


As the owner, it is your decision whether an ovo-lacto vegetarian or vegan diet is a good match for your dog, but keep these things in mind before committing to the change:
Only feed your dog commercially made vegetarian or vegan dog food. Make sure the brand you choose is compliant with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Refrain from feeding puppies or breeding dogs a vegetarian or vegan diet. These type of dogs need a more balanced diet to ensure they are getting all the additional nutrition they need.
Speak with your veterinarian before switching your dog to a non-traditional diet. Ask if your dog is healthy enough to make the switch and find out the answers to any of your questions.

While vegetarian food is healthy for many dogs it is critical that you speak to your vet about your dog before changing its diet. Dog owners in Wyoming, MN can contact the caring professionals at Blue Sky Animal Hospital at 651-462-7387 to schedule an appointment.