Veganuary advice: Can dogs and cats eat a vegan diet?
January 14, 2024
‘Veganuary’ is a month-long campaign that sweeps across the UK every January. It encourages people to choose plant-based food options for the month and those who take part in the challenge often do so for ethical or health reasons. However, our pets have a certain set of nutritional requirements that will not be met with a solely vegan diet.
Our vet, Katie has put together the following advice so that clients of Apex Vets know what diet is safe for their pet, and what they should avoid this January.
How to choose the right diet for your pet
Veterinarians are trained to provide guidance on proper nutrition and care for pets based on their species-specific needs. While humans can choose dietary preferences, it’s crucial to prioritise the well-being and health of our pets by providing them with diets that align with their natural biological requirements.
The protein in your pet’s diet provides them with amino acids, and these are essentially the building blocks of your pet’s body. Our experienced team of vets and nurses at Apex Vets can advise you on pet nutrition and the protein sources and levels you need to look out for. Each type of pet will need a slightly different diet based on their size, exercise levels, age and health condition. So, consulting with our vets is the best way to ensure your pet is receiving the protein, and in turn the amino acids, that they need.
Your dog’s nutritional needs
Our vet Katie wants owners to know that your pet can derive nutrition from a mixture of plant and animal food sources. Dogs are actually omnivorous creatures and will thrive with a healthy balance of amino acids and vitamins from both animal and plant-based foods.
However, getting this balance correct can be tricky. Inadequate nutrition will lead to health conditions that can affect your dog’s heart health, skin, coat and weaken their immune system, making them vulnerable. Animal proteins are generally a higher quality ‘complete’ protein – meaning that they contain the correct ratios of amino acids and are also immediately available to your dog once consumed. Plant protein sources can be difficult to get right as they contain other chemicals, such as tannin, which binds the protein and makes it less readily available to your dog.
Due to this Katie, we recommend that dogs do not take part in the ‘Veganuary’ celebrations with their owners. However, chatting to the team here at Apex Vets will help you to find the correct balance for your dog between the animal and plant sourced protein they need daily.
Your cat’s nutritional needs
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that their body is designed to thrive on a diet consisting of solely animal-based protein – the exact opposite of the ‘Veganuary’ challenge. Cats need specific nutrients that are found in animal tissue and if your cat does not consume these nutrients in enough quantity, they are at risk of a number of severe health conditions.
Katie advises that cats actually need 11 essential amino acids in their diet. Their body will then use these amino acids to create the other 11 non-essential amino acids their body requires at the time. These essential amino acids are: lysine, arginine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, taurine, valine, tryptophan and threonine. They are responsible for the overall health of your cat. A deficiency in any of them could result in vision impairment, heart disease, muscle growth, hormone imbalance, overall malnutrition and many more health problems.
Due to this, we recommend that you do not force your cat to take part in ‘Veganuary’ as you will be putting their health at risk.
To learn more about your pet’s nutritional needs, book an appointment with our experienced dog and cat vets in Denny, or contact the practice for more about.