Why Your Cat or Dog Shouldn’t Be Vegan

Dogs and cats are carnivorous in nature. Unfortunately, some consumers don’t think of this when purchasing their pet’s food. The fact of the matter is that pet food is packed full of grains, fruits and veggies not primarily in a wild cat or dog’s diet. Felines in particular have been labeled “obligate carnivores,” meaning they must eat meat to survive. Dogs’ and cats’ bodies have adapted to the diet that we feed them because they must, but studying the body of a cat or dog shows they were made for consuming other animals.  Feeding pets a plant-based diet has become popular among the vegan community. While this may be a more ethical practice for vegan pet parents, it isn’t normal for a cat or dog.

What’s in “regular” pet food vs “vegan” pet food?

Commercial pet food usually consists of grains, fruits, vegetables and meat. Although commercial pet food isn’t always created in the most sanitary way and doesn’t often contain quality ingredients, it does have some meat in it. Vegan or vegetarian food contains ethically-sourced plant proteins, grains and vegetables as a substitute for meat proteins. Even though the ingredients are more wholesome than commercially-produced food, sadly many animals that have been fed such a diet have developed health problems as a result.

There are a number of reasons to take your pet off of a commercially-produced diet, including the fact that dogs, and especially cats, are not able to break down carbohydrates nearly as well as humans can. Just because the pet can digest the ingredient (at a much slower rate than humans) does not mean it is necessary or good for a pet’s body. There are also a large amount of calories in grain-rich foods, which can lead to pet obesity and many other serious health issues. Just keep in mind that cats and dogs bodies are able to digest things like animal proteins and fats much better than we can.

What should my cat/dog be eating?

Always check with your vet before changing your pet’s diet. There can be many factors that go into determining what your pet should or should not be eating. Studies actually show that pets are able to digest some grains and this may help keep your pet regular. However, animals like dogs and cats wouldn’t get access to as much fresh water as we do. So, feeding them dehydrated food is harder for them to process—they may need to intake more water to compensate.

Suggested diets for dogs include about half meat and bone that is high in moisture, low carbs, broken down vegetation (to keep them regular) and some fat. With this type of diet, the dog’s body can burn through the fat and carbs for energy and won’t have to eat as much or drink as much water.

Cats on the other hand need mostly meat and fat. Their bodies do not know what to do with too many carbs or plant proteins. Again, think about animals in the wild. Animals in the wild don’t know when they will get their next meal, so their bodies savor and extract all the proteins and nutrients needed to survive. Of course, our pets are not wild animals, but they are domesticated versions of their wild brethren.

How do I feed my pet in the most ethical way?

First do some research for yourself on what is the most nutrient rich diet for your cat or dog. Check with your vet and decide what would be best for your particular breed of animal. Playing around with an animal’s food on a whim can have serious consequences, as discussed above.

Do research on the company you are purchasing pet food from. You should be able to easily find information about where the ingredients are sourced, particularly the meat, and how ethically they are cultivated. There is also the option of making your pet’s food at home so you know exactly what is going into the food. Again, if this is a route that seems appealing for your pet, please consult a vet before completely weaning your cat or dog off of their regular diet. If you are thinking about owning a pet and are just not open to the idea of supporting the meat industry in any way, possibly consider purchasing a pet that relies on a plant-based diet.

I will admit that, being a vegan, it is sometimes hard to allow myself to purchase food I know is coming from the exact thing I am trying not to support. However, as a pet owner, I have a responsibility to get my animal checked and do proper research on the biology of the animal I care for. It’s not the animal’s fault that they are a descendant of a carnivore. Their wild cousins eat nothing but meat. Even though these animals are domesticated and may be able to eat some things in addition to meat, they still need meat to supplement them with the proper nutrients to keep a healthy body going—just like we do.

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Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

180 comments

Yvonne T
Yvonne T26 days ago

thanks

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Sue H
Sue H7 months ago

Important considerations, thanks.

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noelle obcarskas
noelle obcarskas10 months ago

http://vegan-information.com/Vegan_Petfood_Myths.html Plenty evidence of healthy vegan cats and dogs around.

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Ellie M
Ellie Mabout a year ago

just because the humans in the house are vegans doesnt mean the pets can be vegans

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Leong S
Leong S2 years ago

noted.

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Leong S
Leong S2 years ago

noted.

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Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T2 years ago

Thanks for the info

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Kitty K.
deanna K2 years ago

Thank you for sharing! I know it can be hard to find a good dog food for your dog. Honestly, the most important part is knowing what they can and can't eat

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Karen C.
Karen C3 years ago

I know cats are carnivores, and they depend on meat for survival. There's no reason to create unhealthy lives for them just because you decide to become vegan. Personally, I believe humans can become vegans by choice but other animals who are carnivores should definitely be allowed meat.

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