Last night, I was talking to a client and we were talking about a dog she was having a problem with, in her pack. As I know the dog quite well (he stayed at the Ranch for a short time before she adopted him) I was doing a phone consult for her, and went through the whole gamut of questions, from environmental to exercise, family dynamic etc.
When we got on to the subject of diet, she told me that her dogs, all seven of them, were vegetarian….
No way could all seven of them be fed vegetarian food because of health issues, could they?
It turns out that she and her husband have been vegetarians for years and have always fed their dogs this way, because they hate the slaughter of animals.
In all honesty, that argument is lovely for a dog rescuer, as we should all be against the needless slaughter of animals, however for a Dog Mum, probably a little convoluted in my view…..
The dogs eat Tofu, Soy, and vegetables every day and apparently really like their food. (Mmmmm, I just bet they are turning up their nose at breast of chicken and sirloin every day in the hope that they might get a heaped serving of tofu instead)
I have heard lots of the arguments for dogs becoming vegetarians over the years.. the toxic substances in todays processed dog foods, the cruelty of slaughtering animals for food, polluting the planet with carcasses, the fact that dogs and cats are our pets and thus should eat as we do if we are vegetarians…the list goes on and on. And yet, lets look at the heart of the matter. Should dogs and cats be vegetarian?
Firstly (and quickly as I’m not a fan of cats), cats are what is known as OBLIGATE carnivores. This means that they don’t have a choice in the matter, they have to eat meat to nourish their body adequately and survive. It’s as simple as that.
Dogs, while not obligate carnivores, are still carnivores and not vegetarians. Their teeth are designed for ripping of flesh, and are not flat like ours, a sign that they are designed for te grinding of grains.
The dogs digestion starts in his stomach and not his mouth….every part of his digestive system, every enzyme in his stomach, is geared towards the breakdown of meat and raw foods.
This is one of the very reasons that I counsel so many of my clients to please feed their dogs fresh meat, veggies and/or appropriate table scraps instead of packaged dog food where they are able to; not only is it less processed but its also what they need.
We humans have plenty of available choices in our lives; we can choose to eat ice cream all day every day, or to drink sugar laden soda every day, knowing that it puts us at risk of diabetes, getting fat or worse. We can gorge on steak every day if we want to, knowing that it will probably still be there in our colon for the next squillion years. Those are choices we make, because we can.
Feeding a dog inappropriate food because of our own moral take on a situation is just not fair to the dog.
I know I will possibly have a thousand carrot and tofu wielding dissenters campaigning for my immediate demise, however, I have to say it…go buy Fido a steak, please!