So you’ve gone vegan, but what about your animal companions?
Some people wonder whether it’s “unnatural” not to feed meat to dogs and cats. First, these animals are domestic rather than wild. They’re not “natural” themselves and don’t hunt animals in nature. They eat what humans feed them. Furthermore, typical ingredients in commercial pet food – cooked cows, horses, or parts of cancerous chickens deemed unfit for human consumption – can hardly be considered “natural” sustenance for dogs or cats.
So, yes! With the right planning and care, your dog or cat can do well on a vegan diet. In fact, some veterinary-prescribed diets for companion animals with allergies are actually vegetarian.
Dogs are omnivores, meaning that they can eat both meat and plants.
While they can be quick to adapt, it’s important to ensure that their nutritional requirements are met. Dogs need two amino acids, L-carnitine and taurine, which are usually added to vegan dog food (brands available in Australia are listed below) or can be added as supplements.
If you have the time, you can try homemade recipes, which you can find online. If you’re considering this route, please discuss your animal companion’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian.
Cats are admittedly trickier, and some can be extremely fussy about food. Nonetheless, there are several nutritionally complete cat foods on the market that you can try.
Vitamin A, taurine, and arachidonic acid are essential to maintaining a cat’s health, and they’re usually added to vegan cat foods or can be supplemented as well.
Vegan Dog and Cat Food Brands in Australia
You can find products from this completely vegan brand via its website as well as at Pet Shop Direct, The Cruelty Free Shop, All About Empathy, Petfood Plus, Everything Vegan, The Green Edge, Loving Hut, and elsewhere. See the full list of retailers here.
VeganPet offers both wet and dry food for dogs and cats as well as a variety of vegan treats.
This brand, which is widely available, offers vegan dry food for dogs.
Helping Cats and Dogs Adjust to Vegan Food
Introduce the new food to your dog or cat gradually. Start by mixing the vegan food with the meat-based food they’re currently eating. Gradually increase the vegan portion and decrease the meat over a period of one to two weeks.
Many (but not all) dogs and cats do well on a vegan diet, so watch them closely to ensure that the new food agrees with them. You may need to make adjustments if you notice skin or digestive issues or any other health problems. Try a different brand or recipe, and if necessary, revert to the previous diet.
If a vegan diet doesn’t suit your animal, don’t fret. We don’t live in a perfect world, and we’re all just trying to reduce suffering when we can. The most important rule for companion animals is to adopt them and never patronize pet shops or breeders.