Care for Creatures: Is a Vegan Diet good for your pet?
Everyone knows that our favourite domesticated pets came from wild animals; behind every grumpy cat is a tiger, and every fussy poodle a grey wolf. We honour our pet’s history in the ways we care for them: exercise and companionship, as well as in their diet. It’s easy with the evolution of plant-based foods to suppose that vegetarian diets would be conceivable for our dogs and cats. Unfortunately, our domesticated family’s biology relies on more than soy product and plant-based product to supplement its needs. Studying the biology of our pets allows us to peek into their evolution, history and diet through their teeth and gut.
Just like humans, dogs have a mix of sharp and masticate teeth which reflect their omnivorous diet. Also, dogs guts have evolved for starch digestion and vitamin A and D absorption. Dogs have evolved from wolves to be able to digest more fibre and starch for carbohydrates, which aids in processing vegetables supplemental to your pet’s diet and may allow them to live off of a vegan diet. Despite these feats in evolution, providing your dog with rich, fatty and high quality meat allows them to digest quicker and receive more nutrients.
Cats are a different story, however. Cats are considered ‘obligate carnivores’ because their gut cannot separate all of the important nutrients from plant-based foods like vitamin A. Cats also can’t transform the fats found in plants to the necessary fatty acids they need to maintain gut and heart health. Though vegetables and herbs like the ones found in Bella and Boots raw food packs add more to your cat's health and enjoyment, they require meat to receive the necessary nutrients.
You may have seen your pet eat grass or leaves off of plants in your backyard: this is very common, and used as a digestive aid, to help them be sick if they need to.
As with the human vegan diet, it is important to ensure your pet is getting the necessary proteins, irons and fats needed to ensure their health. Human beings pursuing the vegan diet can supplement their diets with mushrooms, beans and spinach. Our favourite furbabies, however, require higher amounts of pure protein and iron that can only be found in meat. Proteins like collagen, elastin and keratin are very difficult to derive from a vegan diet, all of which are vital for healthy skin, joints and muscles.
Missing out on important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B and D; amino acids from animal tissue, fatty acids and proteins like collagen, and iron compromise your pet’s heart and muscle health, digestive abilities, eyesight and brain health.
Compassion for creatures of the Earth is an admirable thing to have, but your compassion doesn’t have to be a sacrifice for your furry friend: they rely on you to keep them happy, healthy and satisfied. There is a way to ethically feed your pet without compromising their health and wellness: alternatives include buying local, grassfed meat to ensure proper care of the animal and to support local communities. Buying nose- to- toe to reduce scrap waste and give your pet proper nutrition found in meats. Also not overfeeding your pet, providing them with variety between their meals to reduce pressure on demand and supplement the meat with vegetables and herbs, especially dogs who are omnivorous.
There is another very important way to protect and care for the creatures of the Earth. Our native birds, lizards and insects rely on you to keep your pet well trained and within the confines of its yard. Ensure that dogs are kept under control in nature reserves or bushland by keeping them on leashes and keep your dog fed and entertained, secure in their backyard. Keeping your cats entertained with company and toys, keeping them inside (especially at dawn and dusk) to reduce their roaming. All of this ensures your pet’s don’t disrupt the natural occupants of our land: possums and sugar gliders, blue-tongue and frill-neck lizards, lorakeets and butcher birds.
Ultimately, you should consult with your vet about your pet's dietary needs. There are reports which indicate our domesticated pets can survive on a vegan diet, but it requires a very thorough and sophisticated diet plan. You should alwaysconsult with your vet before making huge changes to your pet's diet.
Bella and Boots is dedicated to maintaining your pet’s diet quality while relieving the guilty conscience of its owners; using the entire meat carcass, including healthy, nutritious plant-based elements and ensuring your pet is provided with the best quality meat.