Vegetarian pet food is a recent trend that has been steadily growing among the pet parent community. Much like with other trends within the pet food space, some pet parents have some reservations concerning vegetarian diets for their dogs. Specifically, they want to be sure that the switch accounts for all of their dogs’ needs and provides them with the vitamins and minerals that they require to stay happy and healthy.
Freshpet recognizes that many pet parents out there are interested in learning more about vegetarian pet food and are weighing the pros and cons. Here, Freshpet explores the topic of vegetarian pet food as well as if it can be a good fit for our dogs’ nutritional needs.
What Does a Vegetarian Dog Food Diet Include?
When evaluating vegetarian pet food options for our dogs, it is important to note the distinctions between vegetarian and fully plant-based vegan diets. Vegetarian diets do not include any meat, which means that these options do not include poultry, beef, seafood, or wild game in their recipes. Vegetarian recipes can include animal products such as eggs, which are often included in these formulas as a great source of protein and other essential nutrients. Vegan diets exclude all meats, animal products, and certain flavors and additives that are derived from animals. These fully plant-based diets need an extremely balanced formula to get dogs all of the nutrients that they need to remain at optimal health.
Can Dogs Get What They Need from a Vegetarian Diet?
While many pet parents believe that their dogs are carnivores like their wolf ancestors, they are actually omnivores. This means that they are able to eat and receive nutrients from both animal and plant foods. Still, vegetarian diets require careful consideration for dogs to get all of the nutrients that they require from plant sources. Selecting a dog food that is balanced and includes all of the necessary nutrients that dogs cannot produce on their own is therefore vital when considering a vegetarian diet. For example, eggs and dairy found in many vegetarian dog food recipes contain animal protein and nutrients such as vitamin D and vitamin B12 that are more difficult to receive from fully plant-based, vegan foods.
Simply put, dogs can certainly survive on vegetarian diets. As is the case with any change in diet, pet parents will want to ensure that their dogs are not deficient of any nutrients during their regular visits to the vet. Vets can help check for deficiencies in nutrients such as protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, as well as essential amino acids that are crucial for their health and development.
Potential Benefits of Vegetarian Dog Food Recipes
One of the reasons vegetarian dog food is catching on among the pet parent community is its potential benefits for certain dogs. Some pet parents consider a vegetarian diet for their dogs because of food allergies, which may be linked to meat sources such as chicken, beef, or lamb. These allergies can cause symptoms ranging from skin irritation to an upset stomach. Dogs with health issues such as liver disease or kidney stones also may experience alleviated symptoms on vegetarian recipes, but it is always important to consult a vet before making significant changes to your dog’s diet.
Some other potential benefits of vegetarian pet food diets are linked to the ethics of how they are made. For example, some pet parents choose vegetarian options because they promote less animal cruelty and exploitation. The environmental footprint of plant-based diets is also smaller and can contribute to reducing pollution and conserving water and other resources.
What to Consider When Exploring Vegetarian Options for Your Pet
Choosing a suitable food for your dog is a vital part of pet parenthood. When it comes to vegetarian options, your choice of recipe is important as it must contain a combination of important nutrients. Taurine, vitamin D, and protein are just a few examples of nutrients that pet parents need to ensure their dogs are getting enough of when making the switch to a vegetarian diet. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to health issues that may get in the way of your dog living a long, happy, and healthy life.
Similar to other diets out there, vegetarian diets have their own list of pros and cons. Pet parents who feel as though their dogs may benefit from a switch to a vegetarian recipe should always do so under the direction and guidance of a trusted veterinarian.