There are many opinions out there when it comes to food in general and nutrition in particular. Even when it comes to our own diets, sometimes we are not sure what to choose and which one fits us better in order to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and be energetic every day.
When it comes to our pets, sometimes we have the same concerns. What is the right approach regarding their nutrition? What type of food should we choose so that our furry friends live a long and healthy life?
Also, for some of us the following question comes up: if we chose a vegan diet for ourselves and it feels healthy, could this also apply to our dogs and cats? Let’s take a look at what we should consider before deciding to take this approach or not.
Cats are carnivores
One thing that is commonly agreed upon is that cats are carnivores and not because they like meat, but because they have to be so. They need to get the necessary proteins from other animal sources, because key nutrients such as Vitamins A and B12 or taurine cannot be supplied by plants.
Just to give an example, taurine is an essential amino acid that is critical for heart muscle function, vision, and reproduction in cats. The side effects of a taurine-lacking diet can be easily deduced – blindness, heart disease and decreased reproductive performance or growth.
But what is the solution to this problem, if you still want to feed your cat food that contains as little meat as possible? Some dry cat food producers and distributors claim that they solved the problem by focusing on feeding carnivores without using meat.
They are doing this by looking at the requirements of every species and by counting each nutrient, amino acid and vitamin that is necessary. Of course, this doesn’t solve the issues of cats being picky when it comes to their food, but it’s already a developed approach which has managed to gather quite a few years of studies and experiences behind it.
A more complex debate around dogs
When it comes to dogs, studies have repeatedly shown that they are facultative carnivores. This means that they are able to live a healthy life even if they eat food based on plants and supplements. Given that they are omnivores, a carefully balanced diet should be able to provide everything they need.
The challenge that appears is actually designing such a diet, which is not an easy thing to do. Not including all the necessary nutrients can cause deficits which will ultimately have an impact on health.
If you want to embark upon this journey with your pet, then the first stop you should consider making is the vet’s office, as he or she is a person that can help you make a fully informed decision. That and careful monitoring of your pet’s overall state and energy level can indicate if you’re on the right path and help you make the next steps towards the right diet for your dog or cat.