Vet explains how dog owners can safely let their pooches try Veganuary trend
With there being a range of benefits to cutting down on meat, many of us will be kicking off 2022 by going full vegan, spending 'Veganuary' swotting up on different types of veggie proteins.
Although some will use this month as an opportunity to rustle up some fun new recipes, others may well want to go full (Quorn) hog with this, extending their new lifestyle to vegan cleaning products, handbags and even pet food.
However, as any good pet owner knows, the health and wellbeing of your good boy or girl should remain of the utmost importance, and no drastic changes should be implemented without some careful research.
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With this in mind, registered veterinarian Dr Guy Sandelowsky (MRCVS) has advised how dog owners might safely introduce plant-based meals to their beloved pooches' food bowls, all while keeping their pooch and the environment happy.
Dr Sandelowsky, who co-founded plant-based dog food company Omni.Pet told The Mirror: "Dogs have evolved into omnivores meaning like us", meaning they can also "derive the nutrients they need from plant-based foods".
"There's now emerging evidence that dogs don't just survive on these diets but they can thrive on them. It is perfectly legal to feed dogs a plant-based diet, so long as it's formulated correctly to ensure it delivers the proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals that dogs require".
It would seem that dogs still feel like they're getting a well-deserved treat when served up plant-based grub, with a recent OMNI study finding that 91% of dogs loved plant-based food, with many readily choosing it over their ‘normal’ meat produced meals.
Under current UK legislation, pets must be given a 'suitable diet'. Given that a plant-based diet, if done properly, can still provide dogs with all their essential nutrients, veganism for dogs is in no way illegal.
Furthermore, Dr Sandelowsky has listed a number of health benefits associated with this choice, with plant-based diets helping dogs to dodge "troublesome ingredients like processed meat, excess animal fat and various preservatives and additives".
He continued: "Another reason to consider going plant-based is if your dog is suffering from persistent health issues that may be related to the animal proteins in their diet. We see lots of dogs in the clinic with itchy skin or loose stools related to allergies and sensitivities. For any such change though, have a chat with your vet who will have access to your dog’s full clinical history".
Dr Sandelowsky remarked that plenty of 'dog parents' who've made the switch have seen "huge improvements in their dogs' health and wellbeing", reporting "increased energy levels, shinier coats and better stools".
Of course, as with any changes to your dog's diet, you should go about this in an informed manner, with Dr Sandelowsky warning that "a plant based diet doesn’t mean living off lettuce and tomatoes".
He urged: "Dog parents should look into replacing their old dog food with a well balanced plant-based diet, that meets FEDIAF guidelines for a nutritionally complete food and is cooked in a way that it is digestible for dogs".
It's also important to ensure that any new food is introduced gradually "over the course of at least one to two weeks", with dogs needing adequate time to get used to such changes.
Dr Sandelowsky advised that "it's perfectly normal to see some transient changes in their toileting patterns whilst they adapt", which he says "should settle once they are fully transitioned onto their new diet".
The expert added: "Some of the oldest living dogs on record were fed plant-based diets and there's evidence that dogs enjoy the food at least as much as meat-based alternatives. Given that cutting out processed meat could have lots of health and environmental benefits, there's never been a better time to consider switching over. Even if you don't feel ready to go fully plant-based yet, maybe try going flexitarian and switching out a meat-based meal a day for a plant-based one, every little bit helps".
Will you be trying Veganuary this year? Let us know.