Many people erroneously call dogs carnivores, which means that they would strictly live on meat. In fact, dogs are actually omnivores, which means that they consume both animal-based and plant-based foods. Dog food commercials and advertisements tend to focus on the meat included in the food, so it is no wonder that people seem to think that dogs only want and need meat to survive.
Due to their omnivore diets, you wouldn’t think of seeing a vegetarian or vegan dog, but some owners believe that they should keep their dogs on these types of diets. Can dogs live healthy lives without meat?
Signs Dogs Can Live Without Meat
It is possible for dogs to live without meat, but there are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t put your dog on this type of diet. A few signs that dogs really shouldn’t be put on a meatless diet include the scientific fact that dogs are omnivores, which means that their diets include both meat and plant-based foods when they are in the wild. In reality, dogs need more protein than humans do to survive. This high-protein diet is hard to sustain without meat.
Also, dogs need essential fatty acids that can only be found in meat proteins. This means that you will have to provide your dog with these in a supplement form if you take meat out of their diet. These acids are important for your dog’s skin and coat. Without these acids, your dog is likely to have itchy, flaky skin. Eye health also becomes an issue for dogs on vegan diets.
If you choose to remove meat from your dog’s diet, you will need to provide your dog with numerous supplements to prevent health issues and malnourishment. If your dog does become malnourished due to an unbalanced, meat-free diet, you may notice that they become lethargic, weak, shaky, and disinterested in food and water.
Without a proper source of protein, dogs will quickly become malnourished. A few signs of malnourishment include:
- Lack of focus
- Head bobbing
- Weight Loss
- Itchy, Flaky Skin
- Disinterested in Food
History of Dogs Living Without Meat
The idea of dogs eating meat-free diets is relatively new, so there isn’t a lot of history surrounding this concept. However, before commercial food became available, most dogs ate table scraps, and those dogs lived decent lives. In most cases, dogs were at least given small amounts of meat, but there may have been times where dogs went days without any meat in their diet. In those days, dogs also lived outdoors and probably hunted down small mammals for food.
Since very little research has been done on vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs, it is a good idea to always speak with a veterinarian before taking meat out of your dog’s diet. Remember that for some dogs with certain health conditions, a meatless diet may not be possible.
History tells us very little about dogs living without meat, but hopefully, with the new concept of meat-free diets for dogs, more research will be done on the subject. In the future, we may know more about how dogs ware without meat protein in their diet. Until then, dog owners need to be conscientious about what they are feeding their dogs. Protein is important, so make sure your dog gets protein from a veterinarian recommended source.
Science Behind Dogs Being Able to Live Without Meat
When it comes to deciding whether or not dogs can live without meat, it is important to consider their nutritional requirements. Dogs require protein to live, so you can’t just simply remove meat from their diet. You need to find other ways to give your dog the proteins their bodies require, such as chickpeas, quinoa, and eggs (for vegetarian dogs).
Many people consider the switch to a meat-free diet for their dogs for health reasons, but there is no data behind a vegetarian or vegan diet being healthier for dogs. Even veterinarians are really divided on the subject.
Remember, even though dogs can live without meat, that doesn’t mean that they should. Cats cannot live without meat and should never be placed on a diet that excludes meat.
Training Your Dog to Live Without Meat
If you want to transition your dog to a meatless diet, you will need to work with a professional. Unfortunately, most of the information about “balanced vegan/vegetarian diets” for dogs on the Internet is incorrect. Since dogs require protein in their diet, you will need to find another way to ensure that they get enough protein in their diets. A veterinary nutritionist can help you come up with homemade meals that are meatless and nutritious.
Some vegan commercial dog foods are now on the market. It is a good idea to speak to your veterinarian before trying one of these foods. In some cases, these foods may not adequately supplement the proteins that your dog needs to stay healthy. You should ask a veterinary nutritionist about any commercial meat-less dog food that you are considering.
Since this type of diet isn’t natural for your pet, you need to find supplements for anything that your dog can’t get without meat. These chemically synthesized nutrients are never as good as the real deal, but they will help give your dog what it needs to stay healthy.
In some instances, meatless diets are encouraged. For example, dogs who have liver disease, meat allergies, or frequent bladder stones may be put on a meat-free diet for health reasons. However, what is healthy for one dog may not be healthy for another.
Remember that not all dogs can be put on a vegetarian or vegan diet. There may be health issues that prevent a meatless diet from being a safe option. In that case, you need to put your dog’s health over your own wishes.
Safety Tips for Dogs Living Without Meat
Be sure that you speak to a veterinarian before making any dietary changes for your dog.
Ensure that your dog is always getting enough protein in their diet to prevent health problems.
Do not force a dog to eat a diet that may harm them.