I’m a manager at a pet store and I’m continually trying to improve my knowledge on pet food so I can help people as best as I possibly can. My problem is that I have a lot of customers that feed their dogs vegetarian dry dog foods and every seemingly factual article I find advises against it. I wanted to know if there is anyone on the forum that does and if there is any proven benefits to it.
Oh, didn’t we mention that? Her three dogs are vegetarians, too.
One major dilemma for vegetarians and vegans is feeding meat to our companion animals. Once we’ve decided not to support factory farming, can we justify feeding animal products to our companions? We have often made a moral exception for our companions based on the idea that dogs have to be meat eaters or that there are no other options for our canine friends. Many vegetarians and vegans are unaware that dogs can be healthy on an animal-free diet.
Pet MD endorses a vegetarian diet for dogs:
Farcas says she would trust (and even feed her own dog) some meat-free dog foods. "It depends on the specific diet that we're talking about," she says. "There are vegetarian diets out there that are completely OK, but others that are not." And here it gets tricky. There's not a lot of trustworthy guidance out there about pet foods -- the regulation on pet food in this country is -- so different seals of approval are of limited value. So talk with your veterinarian to ensure that you're choosing a food that is right for your dog's breed, temperament and physical quirks. (In fact, that's good advice no matter what sort of food you're feeding your dog.)
Table 3: Urinary pH (acidity) of 33 vegetarian dogs
Another commenter tried providing anecdotal experience about vegan and vegetarian dogs enjoying health lifestyles, but got shut down thoroughly as well.In my clinical practice treating dogs, one of the most common ailments I diagnose and treat indogs is skin allergies. Recurrent skin allergies (itching, scratching, biting, licking, leading torecurrent inflammation and infection of the skin) are usually due to one of the following (andsometimes a combination of these factors): (1) flea allergy dermatitis (the most commonlydiagnosed); (2) food allergy (occurs in about 10-20% of cases); and (3) atopy, which is an allergyto something in the environment, such as house dust mites, pollen, grass, etc. Atopy is relativelyuncommon. Most of the time a dog has a food allergy it is to a meat protein such as beef, chicken,or one of the other common meat sources. Vegetarian diets may bring these food allergic dogs relieffrom their skin allergies. A smaller percentage of dogs are allergic to soy, which may limit choicesof commercially available vegetarian diets. In that case, if a caretaker wishes to feed a vegandiet, a homemade diet may be the next best option, but even more care must be taken to insureappropriate nutrient balance and supplements may need to be added to the diet.