Why Provide Supplements In A Homemade Plant-Based Diet?
Daniella Dos Santos, the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) states that “It is theoretically possible to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it’s much easier to get it wrong than to get it right,” she says. “You would have to do it under the supervision of a veterinary-trained nutritionist.”
A Vegetarian Diet for Dogs
Dogs are omnivores and can adapt to a well-balanced vegetarian diet. There is a wider range of commercially prepared ‘complete’ vegetarian dog foods available and for the majority of owners this is the safest way to feed a vegetarian diet.
Plant-based diets for Pets
Plant-based foods (no animal products) should be carefully checked by a vet or animal nutritionist as they may be deficient in arginine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan, taurine, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin A and some B vitamins. Meticulous attention to detail would be needed to assure nutritional adequacy and palatability.
Home Prepared Vegetarian Diets for Dogs
Studies have shown that nutritional errors are commonplace in many homemade diets; providing a nutritionally balanced, homemade vegetarian diet is a complicated task that would require meticulous planning and a specific formulation from a vet or animal nutritionist. A survey of 86 vegetarian dogs in Germany, Switzerland and Belgium found that over 50% of the dogs were fed diets deficient in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, zinc and vitamins D and B12. Dietary deficiencies can have a significant impact on long term health and well-being.
I work with 2 top vet nutritionists in Germany who have formulated the VegDog All-In-Veluxe supplement to ensure that none of the essential nutrients are lacking in a homemade 100% plant-based dog food diet. Together, we have formulated the recipes we provide in the Green Paws Challenge specifically for the UK pet owning population using foods that we would normally buy.
Why does Taurine and l-Carnitine need supplementing?
You may have read that these supplements are important for plant-based dogs. In fact plant-based dogs can get all the nutrients they need either from the food itself, or by synthesis in their liver where they produce Taurine themselves, as we also do.
However, there are a few breeds of dog that may benefit from supplements of Taurine and L-Carnitine because they are unable to produce sufficient amounts themselves. These dogs are therefore genetically predisposed to developing the heart condition Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). These dogs may benefit from treatment with supplements. It may even be possible to avoid the condition developing by supplementing their diet.
It is important to realise that this issue only affects dogs from certain breeds and even then, not all dogs from those breeds. It most commonly occurs among pure bred deep-chested larger dogs, such as Doberman pinschers, Deerhounds, Boxers, Great Danes, Dalmatians, and more recently seen in Golden Retrievers. It can also affect some smaller dogs such as Cocker Spaniels and English & French Bulldogs. If your dog is from one of those breeds we highly recommend always supplementing Taurine and l-Carnitine that is present in just the right quantities in the VEGDOG All-In-Veluxe Supplement.
What About Supplementing Vitamin D?
If you are able to walk your dog for at least an hour everyday in the sunlight, then both you and your pet on a plant-based diet should not need further supplementing with Vitamin D. We all know that this is not always feasible for both our pets and ourselves (with our weather patterns in the UK).
Dogs are able to absorb Vitamin D from the sun through their skin just as we do even though they are covered in fur. Dogs with darker skins will absorb slightly less (as occurs in humans as high melanin levels inhibits the production of Vitamin D). Vitamin D requirements increase in our dogs with itchy, atopic pink skins and white fur. It is common for dogs with these conditions to naturally take themselves outdoors to ‘sunbathe’ – yes very often with their pink bellies exposed to achieve maximum Vitamin D absorption from the sun!
Vitamin D is so needed in the body as it is required to absorb calcium to build healthy bones as well as a strong immunity to fight infections whether on the skin or in the body. It also prevents autoimmune conditions that can be as bad as diagnosing cancer in your pet.
The VegDog supplement that we send you to make up the recipes has Vitamin D added through natural plant-based sources from lichen, not derived from sheep wool or lanolin as found in these plant-based foods available on the market – Veggiedog, Yarrah and Greenwoods Veggie and all the meat-based dog foods on the market. Even chicken feed and cattle feed for intensively farmed livestock, will have Vit D added as derived from sheep’s wool. We prefer the more natural plant-based source for our dogs as found in the foods we recommend and send to you in the Green Paws Challenge.
How Important Are B Vitamins?
As shown in the comment by FEDIAF above, they are concerned about Vit B deficiencies in plant-based dog food diets. Vitamin B is found in most meat-based foods although this meat that most dogs are fed, has the Vitamin B supplemented in feedlot livestock as most of them will not graze on the grass enough to receive their requirements of natural Vitamin B.
The VegDog supplement that we provide has an overpowering scent when first opened and this will be not only from all the additional amino acids needed, but also from the Vitamin B (overpowering to us but very attractive to our dogs as a scent).
Why is it so important to weigh the quantities needed?
When making the homemade balanced plant-based recipes that we provide, everything needs to be carefully weighed.
When you consider the surface area of a Chihuahua compared to the surface area of skin of a Great Dane, the little Chihuahua has a much higher metabolic rate and surface area. This then translates to having a much higher protein requirement compared to a large dog as all that fur (with a higher surface area) requires more protein to grow adequately. The same is true for the fat percentage as well as other vital nutrients – they differ according to the weight and metabolism of your dog.
We take this into consideration, and when you join our Green Paws Challenge, we will send you the exact weights of each ingredient that your dog needs for our 5 homemade recipes to get them 100% balanced for your dog.
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