Making sense of vegetarian dog food
Can a dog have a vegetarian or even a vegan diet? Put this question to a group of dog-lovers and you will get a wild exchange of varied opinions, assumptions and reproaches. Opponents are of the opinion that a dog is a true carnivore; proponents contend that a dog is perfectly capable of processing vegetarian food.
What’s behind vegetarian dog food?
Back in 1995, Yarrah’s founder noticed that plenty of dogs get itchy, have lacklustre fur, general listlessness and other vague symptoms. Even a few dogs eating the organic food from Yarrah were exhibiting symptoms. After deliberating with various vets, the cause was identified: the dogs were reacting badly to certain animal proteins. Yarrah subsequently developed a vegetarian dog food, which relieved the symptoms many of the dogs were experiencing.
Is a dog a true carnivore?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that their teeth and gastrointestinal system is fine-tuned to eating and digesting meat. No, in the sense that after ten thousand years of domestication dogs have learned to eat whatever humans are eating. Consequently, their stomachs are also capable of digesting plant food.
Can all dogs eat a vegan diet?
No, there are dogs that don’t fare well on vegetarian/vegan food. They don’t absorb enough nutrients and quite simply need meat. Feeding puppies (up to one year old) a vegan diet is also discouraged. Puppies are still growing rapidly and need proteins to do so. After a year, a gradual transition to vegetarian food is possible.
Is it a complete food?
Over the years a great deal of research has been done into vegetarian food, including by Peta. After adding L-carnitine, taurine and B12 and replacing D3 with D2, the food is rendered fully vegan in fulfilment of all requirements.