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Impacts of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets: Why Your Cat or Dog isn't a Vegetarian?

Impacts of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets: Why Your Cat or Dog isn't a Vegetarian?

While searching for the best pet food diets, you often find articles or advice on social media about the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs and cats.

But do you know the impacts of vegetarian and vegan diets on dogs and cats? Probably not.

It's important to consider that we’ve chosen to live with a carnivorous companion, so we must also be clear about their dietary requirements.

While a vegetarian diet is something you might consider for yourself, making the same choice for a dog or cat can lead to potentially dangerous consequences. It’s neither natural nor optimally healthy. Here are a few reasons why…

1. Humans vs. Dogs and Cats

Consider us humans, omnivores, and everything about us – our teeth, digestive tract; even our saliva is designed to help us break down plant matter.

While we have adapted to eating other kinds of food like meat and fats, our pets have not. The anatomy of dogs and cats is different.

Dogs and cats are carnivores. Their digestive systems are designed to consume meats and fats – not soy, rice, peas, or food containing large amounts of vegetables.

Even in the wild, our pets consumed The Ancestral Diet, far away from the present-day carb-rich commercial pet food diets.

2. A Biological Requirement – They Need Meat!

Protein is essential for healthy organs and skin. Protein consists of many amino acids, each having a specific job working together to maintain and repair the body.

What’s interesting is that vegetarian diets for pets are often very similar to vegetarian diets recommended for people – they’re high in grains and vegetables, often including soy products.

Promoters of vegetarian diets argue that combining certain vegetables and grains can cover most of the essential amino acids a human needs. However, pets do not need the high amounts of carbohydrates that come with them in their diets.

Furthermore, the digestibility of proteins and carbohydrates found in vegetables is different for humans and pets. Dogs and cats cannot digest plant proteins well and this may lead to gastric upset and large piles of smelly stool.

In fact, one of the major disadvantages of vegetarian or vegan diets on pets is that they are very fattening and increase the risk of pet obesity!

Tests have also shown that some dogs fed purely vegetarian diets are low in taurine. Taurine is important in the diet of both dogs and cats to prevent cardiomyopathy. And especially in a cat’s diet to prevent the deterioration of eyesight.

3. Soy is Not a Substitute!

Please note that soy is NOT a complete protein. Rather, it's a common allergen for pets.

Replacing animal protein with organic soy protein may work well in a human diet but it is definitely not recommended for your cats and dogs.

4. Missing Minerals

Plants are a rich source of minerals for humans and are beneficial for dogs in the appropriate amounts. However, they are incomplete sources of minerals for our pets.

For example, vegetables can be good sources of phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium but are poor sources of sodium and calcium – both essential to your pet’s health.

Vegetarian diets usually consist of ingredients that are high in phytates, i.e., corn, oats, potatoes, rice, peas, lentils, and chickpeas.

One of the negative impacts of vegetarian and vegan diets on dogs and cats is that phytates bind with minerals and prevent their absorption which can lead to deficiencies.

Interestingly, the pet food industry has been aware of the action of phytates since the early 1980’s but rather than reduce the high amounts of grains and starches in commercial pet food, much of it chooses to merely add more calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.

If you’re interested in adding more of these minerals to a homemade vegetarian diet, it's difficult to determine a healthy balance. In some cases using too much, or the wrong combinations can even be as harmful as a deficiency.

5. Vitamins Fit for a Carnivore

Vitamins are essential for human and pet health. However, the bioavailability of vitamins differs from a plant source to an animal source.

If you are preparing a vegetarian or vegan diet, chances are that your pet is probably not getting enough vitamins. Here are some examples

  • The vitamin A we find in plant sources is beta-carotene, and it has to go through a process of digestive conversion for which dogs and cats are not well equipped. Your dog needs at least some animal protein to get all the necessary vitamins.
  • The best sources of B vitamins are found in animal proteins. In the case of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), the best sources are organ meats and dairy products. And it's important because a deficiency in B2 can lead to stunted growth and heart failure.
  • Dogs fed a vegetarian diet have shown lower vitamin D levels which can impair normal, healthy development.

Feed Your Pet What Nature Intended

We advocate feeding a species-appropriate diet largely dependent on fresh, good-quality meats. And rest assured because we're mindful and deliberate in sourcing ONLY high-quality ingredients.

Our meats come from farmers and ranchers recognised for their superior, human-grade quality ingredients and their highest level of food handling safety. Moreover, all our meats are free of hormones and antibiotics, Halal, and sourced from free-range, cage-free, farm or ranch-raised animals.

Even the oils, fruits and vegetables we use are organic certified so you can be assured of the highest quality standards.

Furchild has made it simple and convenient to feed your furchildren the balanced raw food they need to live full, vital, and longer lives.

Aug 2018

Have a question or comment? We would love to hear about it.

FURCHILD is the first raw pet food company of its kind in the Middle East.

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