Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Best for Your Pet?
November 13, 2017
Although there are still a lot of unknowns as to what is the best nutritionally balanced diet for any pet, it is agreed that dogs and cats have uniquely different needs. Moreover, like their owners, pets can suffer from food allergies and dietary deficiencies that may require a special diet. Veterinarians often prescribe specially formulated pet foods to treat certain conditions (allergies, liver disease or bladder stones) that are derived from non-animal meat protein sources. Typically, these have an egg or soy protein base but are only available by prescription.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is comprised of volunteers from commercial feed producers as well as local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds. The guidelines set forth by the AAFCO help ensure feed products are formulated correctly and meet minimum standards. As a human, you may choose to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet for ethical issues but that does not mean a meatless-diet is healthy for your furry friend. So, if you are considering a vegetarian diet for your pet there are a lot of things to consider.
Discuss Nutritional Deficiencies with Your Vet
Since nutritional deficiencies related to a pet's diet can take a long time to surface as malnutrition, any pet owner considering a unique diet should discuss this with their veterinarian. Cats and dogs have needs for specific nutrients (vitamins and amino acids) usually found in meats. If an incorrect diet is continued long enough, it could result in an irreversible medical condition or lead to a premature death. As there is insufficient evidence to recommend a "best" diet for your furry friends, it is prudent to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss his or her recommended dietary approach for your pets.