One question that Raleigh vet hospitals like Leesville Animal Hospital hear once in a while is whether or not dogs (or cats) can be vegetarians. While this seems like somewhat of an unusual question, today we are going to take a look at the answer in depth!
Let’s begin by splitting this article into two sections. We will begin by looking at dogs.
Can Dogs Be Vegetarians?
So, can dogs be vegetarians? The simple answer is yes. Surprising? We sometimes think so too.
We need to pause for a second to remind you that just because dogs can be vegetarians doesn’t mean that it’s the best dietary choice for your dog.
Dog’s are natural omnivores. Dog’s bodies are able to transform certain amino acids into other amino acids, which means that they are able to get their necessary amount of protein without eating meat at all!
With this said, if you intend on feeding your dog a vegetarian based diet, you MUST be prepared to dedicate yourself to WHOLE nutrition for them. This means that you must educate yourself about the nutrients that are necessary to your dog’s diet so that you can include them in appropriate levels in your dog’s daily meals. Without educating yourself FULLY on the nutritional needs of your dog and how you can meet those needs through a vegetarian diet, your dog can experience a wide range of health concerns including malnutrition.
Here at Leesville, we believe that as omnivores, dogs – with VERY few exceptions – should be offered a diet that includes animal protein in order to thrive.
Now, what about our feline friends?
Can Cats Be Vegetarians?
So, can cats be vegetarians? The simple answer is no.
Unlike dogs, cats physiology really depends upon a diet that contains animal proteins. This doesn’t mean that vegetarian (or even vegan) diets haven’t been implemented by cat owners, but it isn’t recommended.
One of the bigger problems that comes up when people attempt to feed their cats a vegetarian diet is that testing on vegetarian cat foods is simply not optimal. Why isn’t it optimal? Well, because feeding cats a vegetarian based diet is just not natural. Unlike dogs, cats are not able to synthesize plant proteins to obtain the optimal nutrients that their bodies need. This means that without animal proteins, cats are missing crucial elements in their diet that are necessary for their health.
So what happens to cats that have been fed vegetarian diets? Those that aren’t taken into care for nutritional deficiencies or other poor health conditions are somewhat of a mystery. Feeding cats a vegetarian diet has never been studied in the long-term, so as of now, no one really knows what kind of effects it will have.
So What Do Raleigh Vet Hospitals Think?
While you may make the choice to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, Raleigh vet hospitals don’t recommend it for your pets. Our cats and dogs have been primed over thousands of years to optimally thrive on certain nutrients found in animal proteins. If you have concerns over the ethical treatment of the animals that contribute to your pet’s food, take a look into preparing your own food using meat that meets your requirements – just make sure that you educate yourself on how to provide a nutritionally sound home-prepared meal for your pet.
Have questions about your pets nutritional needs? Drop in and make an appointment for a nutritional consultation with one of our vets or give us a call at (919)870-7000!