Can a pet dog or cat be vegan?
Dogs and cats are biologically omnivores, and generally like to eat meat. Clearly they don’t make the moral choice for themselves to become vegan. Yet, they CAN be happy and thrive on a nutritious vegan diet. In fact, in 2002 the Guinness Book of World Records listed the world’s oldest living dog as a 27-year-old border collie fed a vegan diet.
Cats and dogs are very different behaviorally and physiologically, which leads to different dietary habits and nutritional needs for each.
Cats nutritional requirements are more complicated than that of dogs. A dog can survive on commercial cat food, but a cat will become ill or die if only fed commercial dog food. As cats have a shorter gastrointestinal tract, they do not digest food as well as dogs. This affects their dietary needs. They need a higher protein diet, and adequate amounts of amino acids taurine and arginine. These needs can be met through vegan sources, but it is very difficult to do through home meal preparation. To safely feed your pet a vegan diet it will be safest to give it nutritional supplements, or a commercial vegan pet food that has been scientifically calculated to provide all the right ingredients for that type of animal. If you prefer to prepare the meals yourself, you should only do so under the guidance of a vet or it is likely that you might overlook an important dietary requirement.
Why put your dog or cat on a vegan diet?
Many people after adopting a vegan diet themselves, want to transition their pets as well. Once you become aware of the cruelty that happens in modern animal agriculture it can weigh heavily on your conscience and you don’t want to be a part of that anymore. They feel conflicted about buying animal products for their pets, when they know what has happened behind the scenes to make that product. It can be part of embracing a cruelty-free lifestyle.
There are also health implications of the type of low grade ingredients that are put in traditional pet food. Many diseased animals deemed unfit for human consumption end up in pet food instead. Most pet food also contains nasty chemicals that are routinely given to livestock like synthetic hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Their are various illnesses associated with meat consumption in humans that may also apply to other animals, such as allergies, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and bone problems.
Can dogs and cats be healthy on vegan diets?
Yes… as long as it’s done carefully such that harmful foods are avoided and the correct nutrition is given. Some plant foods that are OK for dogs are poisonous for cats, and vice versa. So you do need to be careful. You also need to ensure that you’re providing the right nutritional balance for a pet of your species and age. For more details see the individual pages on dogs and cats.
Apart from pet food, are their other pet related products that vegans might want to change?
Many vegans have put thought into using cruelty-free beauty products for themselves. You can also find cleaning products for your pets that are cruelty-free and vegan. Such as pet shampoos, carpet cleaners or stain removers.