Vegan Pets?

David Trammel's picture

While I can understand the desire some people have to eat vegan, and support their choice to do so, is it ok to extend that nutritional choice onto your dog or cat?

Is It OK To Make Your Dog Vegan?

"Vets will often recommend meat-free diets for dogs and cats with digestive issues, but beyond that, it's unclear how healthy—or unhealthy—veganism is for animals. “There really isn’t a lot of research on this,” says Sarah Dodd, a veterinarian who studies plant-based pet diets. The majority of commercial vegan pet foods don’t meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials' (low) minimum standards for being labeled as nutritionally adequate. Dodd knows how confusing this can be for the generally well meaning pet-owning public, beset as it’s lately been by pet-care fake news. “I joined a lot of groups about pet nutrition and could spend all day, every day, correcting the misinformation,” she says. “Being a Facebook vet is a full-time job.”

Is anyone a vegan?

I've been slowly trying to cut back on my intake of meat, just because the high environmental cost and also the high out of pocket cost. I also have three foster cats at my house right now, and doubt their food is vegan.

A vegan diet is about the worst thing you can feed a cat and most dry foods are largely grain based. This sometimes leads to diabetes which is now expensive to treat in cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, dogs less so and can safely eat more grain and vegetable foods. I can appreciate your desire to cut back on meat to save money and not fuel the modern meat producing industry. My choice is to bite the financial bullet and seek out and pay for pasture raised meat. However for your cats, give them the highest amount of meat food you can afford. In the long run, you will save on vet bills.

mountainmoma's picture

And a vegetarian for decades. I never fed my cats and dogs a vegan diet or even a vegetarian one. I buy them mid to high level decent dry foods. Generally there are grains in their feed. The cats get a bit of raw milk a day, not alot, a few tablespoons, and most of them, not the scared inside only guy, hunt and so supplement there. There is certainly nothing wrong with a mid level cat food that has grains for cats who hunt ! I have never had cat health issues. Dog got reasonable level dog food grain free or some grains, not the cheapest. I figured out early on that more expensive per pound food was often just as cheap per calorie, look at amount of calories per cup of the dog foods and you will see that the real cheap dog food you would need to feed twice as much or almost for the same calories. So it is better for the dog to have less amount of higher quality, and there is actually less dog mess to pick up outside from this too.

mountainmoma's picture

For us right now, is that the meat used is often something that would otherwise go to waste, animals that are older and would not be as tasty for the human consumption market, etc.... hopefully the cat food is using bycatch that they otherwise toss, etc... so I would look into that. If it is not using extra resources to get that meat, if we are saving a waste product, that might change the picture.

For a sustainable future, for dogs it is that a dog can eat whatever you are eating, and they will eat what you wont, like a rat or gopher you killed in a trap. An organic farm I have visited, the dog follows the farmer around in the morning as he checks the gopher traps. I trained my dog when he was a puppy to eat the gophers I gave him from the traps. So, you can just give your dog some of whatever you have fixed for your meal, including your grains and legumes and vegetables, and supplement now and then with pests you have killed. Dogs like fruit too, and out here where we have coyotes, coyotes absolutely love, if htey can get in, to eat the ground fall apples and pears, and so will your dog. My old dog used to go and eat my strawberries off the vine if I wasnt looking, and he absolutely loved blackberries, but the thorns limited his taking of htem, and he would eat some of the windfall apples.

Cats must have animal products, which is why we give them a bit of milk ( they say alot of milk is not good for them, maybe the raw milk we have is different, I dont know what they used to run their tests, realy people have been giving cats a small amount of milk for many thousands of years) the other thing about a bit of milk is it keeps the cats grounded in the barn, which is where you want them to hunt for the rats. You need to take more care to give your cat a supplement if they have no hunting around but they do hunt well. The city by me needs more outside cats, they keep them inside and then have rats running htru the backyard garden as the rats tunnel into the chicken coops to eat grain and the rats eat the fruit, etc....

I picked up an entertaining, highly readable book: Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs by Ted Kerasote.

"In an adventure that echoes The Omnivore’s Dilemma with a canine spin, Kerasote tackles all those subjects, questioning our conventional wisdom and emerging with vital new information that will surprise even the most knowledgeable dog lovers. Can a purebred be as healthy as a mixed-breed? How many vaccines are too many? Should we rethink spaying and neutering? Is raw food really healthier than kibble, and should your dog be chewing more bones? Traveling the world and interviewing breeders, veterinarians, and leaders of the animal-welfare movement, Kerasote pulls together the latest research to help us rethink the everyday choices we make for our companions. And as he did in Merle’s Door, Kerasote interweaves fascinating science with the charming stories of raising Pukka among his dog friends in their small Wyoming village."

Copyright is 2013. Will see what, if anything, he has to say about vegan .