Dog Nutrition: How healthy is vegetarian dog food?

Tessa Zaune-Figlar first thought the vet was joking when he recommended feeding his dog a vegetarian diet. The animal, a shepherd-labrador mix, suffered from itching and frequent diarrhea. For a long time it was not clear why – until Zaune-Figlar followed the advice and gave up animal food for his dog. At first, he found it absurd, the 38-year-old entrepreneur remembers. “The dog is descended from the wolf!” But he tried it, mixed tofu, millet, lentils, potatoes and various vegetables, added a mineral powder and served it to his dog. “After four weeks, the symptoms went away,” says Zaune-Figlar.

Inspired by this experience, the dog owner founded “Vegdog”, a company specializing in vegan dog food. The products have been on the market since 2016; they are called “Farmer’s Crunch” (dry food), “Sensible Little No. 1” (canned food) or “Dentals” (beetroot chews). From the point of view of the advocates – as well as people – there is much to be said for this form of nutrition. It should be healthier, counter factory farming and protect the climate.

A study at the Technical University of Berlin came to the conclusion that an average dog emits a lot of CO2 emit like 13 return flights from Berlin to Barcelona or 72,800 kilometers in a car. The majority of this, the study’s authors write, comes from animal-based dog food. It’s true, especially the by-products of slaughter such as heart, lungs, stomach, breast or tongue are processed, which means body parts that people hardly eat anyway. However, there are also manufacturers who advertise “pure muscle meat”. In other words, animals are raised and killed to feed other animals.

Today’s dogs can eat anything

At the same time, more and more manufacturers offer vegetarian or vegan food. But the doubt remains: Is such a diet really species-appropriate for dogs? Or does an animal from the wild do nothing with beets, lentils and tofu? Many dog ​​owners are unsure and, when in doubt, prefer to feed their pets standard food – often even if they don’t eat any animals themselves. There are still only a few scientific studies dealing with these questions. However, existing studies have reached a surprisingly clear result: today’s dogs can basically eat anything.

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