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16th May 2022

Vegetarian Week

by Laura Dunford RVN

Vegetarianism is becoming increasingly popular as people strive to reduce their impact on the planet, spare animals’ lives, and improve their health. Once deemed as a rather “hippy dippy” concept, vegetarianism is now a widely promoted lifestyle choice encouraged by campaigns like “Meatless Mondays” and “Veganuary”. Whilst it was previously compared to “eating rabbit food”, documentaries such as Game Changers have blown that misconception out of the water, and shown the strength and health that can be built upon a meat-free diet. It’s not surprising then, that many dog owners want to share the benefits of a vegetarian diet with their canine companions – but is it safe to do so?

Mammals that belong to the order Carnivora are often presumed to be carnivores, however that is simply not the case. Giant Pandas for example are classed under Carnivora, but 99% of their diet consists of bamboo! Although dogs are under the same order, they are actually omnivores, and have evolved over thousands of years to be able to obtain energy from both meat and plant based sources. They can digest over 90% of cooked grains, which is why we use nutritious wholegrain rice in most of our diets. Therefore as long as their diet contains the correct levels of nutrients, and is nutritionally complete and balanced, they can thrive on a vegetarian diet. Some environmentally minded dog owners may want to simply reduce rather than eliminate the meat in their dogs’ diet. This can be easily achieved by using Burns dry food as it contains a controlled level of protein to meet rather than exceed your dog’s nutritional requirement, which helps reduce waste.

The most important factor when considering a vegetarian diet for your dog is meeting your dog’s nutritional needs. Although home-cooking may seem appealing as it provides fresh meals as and when they’re needed, it is incredibly difficult to achieve a nutritionally balanced diet that will not negatively affect the health of the dog in the long term by causing nutritional deficiencies or excesses. The PFMA highlight that the majority of dogs fed a home-made diet had some degree of nutritional imbalance. If you need to consider home cooking due to a specific medical condition or severe dietary allergies, the diet should always be formulated by an accredited veterinary nutritionist.

Our meat-free Free Range Egg, Carrots & Organic Brown Rice wet food offers a tasty, nutritionally complete and balanced diet for adult dogs and is Vegetarian Society Approved. Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients and are naturally rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. As they score so highly on protein bioavailability they are suitable for even the most sensitive of digestive systems. The wet food can be fed on its own as a purely vegetarian diet, or in combination with one of our dry foods to help reduce the amount of protein coming from meat sources.

 

Link to PFMA Vegetarian & Vegan diets factsheet: https://www.pfma.org.uk/_assets/docs/8154%20PFMA%20FS12%20Vegetarian%20Diets%20updated%2027-01-20.pdf

by Laura Dunford RVN
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