The average person knows a fair amount about dogs. As one of the most common pets, dogs are a favorite topic on the Internet. When you think of dogs, you probably think of cute, cuddly pets. You probably also think that they are carnivores, which is mostly - but not 100 percent - true.
While the majority of a dog’s diet in the wild is meat and dogs are unable to process grains, dogs are actually omnivores. In the wild, a dog will eat the stomach contents of its prey, which is usually a vegetarian or an omnivore. This means that dogs will eat partially digested grains and plant matter, which their bodies can use for nutrients not found in meat.
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Signs Dogs Shouldn't Live on a Meat-Free Diet
While it is completely possible for your dog to survive on a meat-free diet, there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t go that route. First, dogs are used to eating meat. That is what their bodies were designed to do, and most commercial dog foods contain meat proteins for that reason. In a commercial dog food, there will also be grains and probably fruits and vegetables. All these ingredients are included because they provide vital nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.
Removing meat from a dog’s diet makes it difficult for them to get enough protein. Dogs require more protein in their diet than humans, and without it, dogs can become very ill. The essential fatty acids in meat proteins are hard to replicate as well. Supplements are one way to provide your dog with those necessary nutrients, but supplements are never as good as the real deal. Fatty acids help your dog’s skin and coat health, and without them, it is likely that your dog will have itchy, flaky skin.
If you are considering removing meat from your dog’s diet, you will need to talk to your veterinarian to ensure that your pet’s nutritional needs are being met.
- Lack of focus
- Sweaty paws
Other signs that your dog isn't getting enough protein in their diet include:
- Disinterest in food and water
- Poor eye function
- Poor skin and coat condition
History of Dogs Eating Meat
Many people think that dogs were historically only carnivores, but that isn’t the full story. While eating meat in the wild, dogs would consume the stomachs of their prey and, in turn, consume plant matter like seeds, nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables. However, dogs primarily ate meat. That is why they are erroneously called strict carnivores.
Taking meat out of a dog’s diet can have a number of effects on their health. Meat provides the proteins and fatty acids that dogs need to survive and finding alternatives can be very difficult. As the trends of vegetarian and vegan dog diets continue, it is important that as a pet owner you understand the nutritional requirements of your dog.
Since dogs used to hunt, a meatless diet is contrary to their nature. Even after they were domesticated, many dogs hunted or were given table scraps, which contained the undesirable bits of meat the people didn’t want to consume. For these reasons, it is hard to contemplate what a meatless diet looks like for a dog.
If you choose to try a meat-free diet for your dog, you should meet with a vet to discuss how to properly make the switch and ensure that they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need in their diet.
Science Behind Dogs Eating Meat
Your dog’s body was made to live off of meat. In the wild, dogs hunted for prey because they needed the protein to stay healthy and active. Since most dogs no longer have to hunt for their food, they rely on you to give them the protein their bodies need. While those who are opting for vegetarian or vegan diets can find protein alternatives like chickpeas, quinoa, and eggs (for vegetarian diets), it can be challenging to find appropriate options.
Remember that your dog relies on you for food, and without protein, they will quickly become malnourished and weak. Don’t try a vegetarian or vegan diet without consulting your vet, and if you notice any side effects, bring your pet to see a veterinarian right away.
Feeding Your Dog a Healthy Diet
Transitioning your pet to a diet without meat requires the help of a professional. You should never try this kind of diet for your pet without professional advice because dogs require a certain amount of protein that is hard for them to get without meat. If you think this is the route you want to go, a veterinary nutritionist can provide you with meal plans or help you find a vegetarian or vegan commercial dog food.
Balanced diets are essential for all living beings. Dogs require a little bit of plant matter for vital nutrients, but most of their diet is meat-based. The first ingredient in a quality commercial dog food should always be some type of meat. Additionally, dogs need both muscle and organ meat, which they would consume in the wild, so many commercial dog foods will contain some of both.
If you want to give your dog a little human food, it is best to do so in the form of cooked meats or fresh fruits and vegetables. Dogs can eat blueberries, spinach, apples (without the seeds and core), sweet potatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables that are full of vitamins and minerals. Be cautious when feeding your pooch human food. Do a little research to see if the food is suitable for dogs and watch for gastrointestinal distress.
No matter how you decide to feed your pet, you should do so with their health in mind. Some dogs are required to go on a vegetarian diet due to meat allergies, while other dogs won’t be able to properly function without eating flesh. Since your dog relies on you for food, you should respect the fact that not all dogs can be fed the same way. Listen to your veterinarian for good advice on how to feed your pup.
Safety Tips for Changing Your Dog's Diet:
Always speak to a veterinarian before changing your dog's diet.
Transition over to the new diet slowly.
If you notice adverse effects, speak to a veterinarian.