Veganism may be appropriate for some humans, but a growing number of hard line vegetarians are imprinting the same dietary restrictions on their own pets. And that may be cause for concern.
In 2015, the National Institutes for Health published a study that found most plant-based dog foods to be lacking amino acids that are critical to canine development. Dogs need L-carnitine and taurine in their diet, according to Pet MD, along with protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. All but the amino acids can be provided without supplements, and a lot of pet parents are letting their animals go without.
A recent study published in PLOS ONE shows how more than a third of the 3,673 dog and cat owners surveyed from around the world considered feeding their animals a vegan diet. As much as 78 percent of those pet parents who were vegan had considered the same.
The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Guelph, in Ontario, IFL Science reports. They learned, while only 1.6 percent of the 2,940 dogs and 0.7 percent of the 1,545 cats surveyed were fed a vegan diet, that rate jumps to 27 percent when looking at just vegan pet owners.
“That percentage, 27 percent, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that’s huge, and much higher than we expected,” wrote lead author Sarah Dodd, a PhD candidate at the Ontario Veterinary College. “While only a small proportion of pet owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say that interest in the diets is likely to grow.
“People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans,” she continued. “There is also growing concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”
The team studied each participants criteria for choosing a pet food. More than half of those surveyed said they’d ask a veterinarian first. And a vet will most likely recommend something that’s for sale at a pet food store.
Still, Those who do consider switching to vegan pet food may wonder why it’s being sold in supermarkets, if not adequate to feed to an animal. And though it may be available for sale, in some countries,
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