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The risks of vegan pet food

TRUTH: feeding a pet a vegetarian or vegan diet can be risky… especially, if you’re unwilling to spend the necessary time researching and properly preparing their diet.

There are serious consequences to feeding pets food that are poisonous to them, or to not giving them all the nutrients they need. To make sure you do it right, you need to be aware of the risks of vegan pet food – then you can avoid the pitfalls.

Nutritional deficiency

The most likely problem is that the food given won’t meet your pets nutritional needs. This is not necessarily the case – it is possible to have a vegan diet that meets your pets needs – but to make that happen you need to put some thought and time into getting the balance right.

The requirements for dogs and cats are different. To learn more about what’s required see the pages on vegan dog food and vegan cat food.

Cats, for example can easily become nutritionally deficient in taurine, B12 or some other micronutrient that is vital for health and wellbeing.

The easiest way to avoid this problem, is to use a commercial vegan pet food that has been designed to include all the nutrition needed. Luckily, there are a growing number of vegetarian and vegan cat food options available to consumers.

Otherwise, vegan pet food supplements can be mixed with a homemade diet, which can majorly help with regulating micronutrient levels.

Inadvertently feeding poisonous ingredients to your pet

Do you know which ingredients a dog or cat can’t eat?

Before you share your people food with your pet, become aware of the ones that can harm animals.

For a quick summary, avoid these:

  • avocado
  • chocolate
  • coffee and caffeine
  • citrus
  • coconut products
  • grapes and raisins
  • nuts
  • onions, garlic & chives
  • salty snack food
  • artificial sweeteners including xylitol
  • yeast dough

Learn more at ASPCA.org

vegan puppy looking at food

Problems with transition to a vegan diet

As with any change to your pets diet, there could be issues arising during the transition stage. When your pet’s stomach is used to a particular type of food, it may need some time to adjust to the change.

Always change your pets diet slowly. Take a couple of weeks to slowly phase out the old food and introduce the new food. Pay careful attention to your pets health during the process.

Urinary stones

Further complications can arise from cats developing stones in their urinary tract as a result of their urine alkalizing, causing blockage, pain and a host of serious problems down the line.

As recommended by Dr. Andrew Knight, it is important to regularly check the acidity of your cat’s urine during the vegan transition and it’s strongly advised to take the transition gradually.  This means that you slowly replace foods in the cat’s existing diet with vegan alternatives.

This will provide enough time for your cat to properly adapt, without becoming seriously ill in the process. There are a variety of options available for checking your cat’s urine pH level, including brands of cat litter that have color indicators or testing a sample with an indicator swab.

Allergies

As with any diet, there is the risk of the pet being allergic to or having a sensitivity to one of the included ingredients. This isn’t something particular to a vegan pet diet, but something to be aware of anyway.

If there is an underlying allergy to an ingredient commonly found in vegan pet food, such as soybeans, this could spark health issues seemingly out of the blue. At the first sign of any complications arising during the transition to a vegan diet, it is important that you get your pet checked by a vet to outline the cause and not speculate.

 

Conclusion

There are certainly potential hazards of transitioning your pet to a vegan diet. The risks can, however, be managed and worked around.

There are also potential benefits that are seemingly very worthwhile, not to mention the benefit of reducing your contribution to the meat and dairy industries.

Provided that you take the necessary care and steps to ensure that your pet transitions to vegan pet food successfully, there seems to be no reason or scientific justification for not feeding your pet a vegan diet.

The risks of vegan pet food can easily be overcome by buying commercial pet food that has quality ingredients in the right balance. To help get you started, we’ve reviewed the best vegan dog food and vegan cat food brands available on Amazon.