Life & Style

It’s a dog’s life

Watch what you feed your dogs Sweets should be strictly avoided as they can cause health issues  

When P Vinod Kumar found his Labrador falling sick frequently, he took him to a vet who asked him what he was feeding his dog. “I was giving my dog pure vegetarian food thinking that it will keep the animal clean and healthy.” Instead the vet told him to start the dog on non-vegetarian food. Once Kumar did so, his pet bounced back to its energetic self.

Many veterinarians in the city say that they often find the reason for pets being unwell was a vegetarian diet. “Those who feed their dogs vegetarian food are unknowingly torturing them,” said Dr S Venkateswaran, a consultant at the Cotton City Pets Poly Clinic, near Sai Baba Colony. “Dogs shed a lot of hair everyday and for its regrowth animal proteins are needed,” he advised. Vegetables contain proteins but not as much as a non-vegetarian diet does. And dogs are basically carnivores.

Dr M Murugesan, a government veterinarian, says that, while dogs can survive on a vegetarian diet, it does not necessarily mean it is a healthy one. According to him, dogs get their unsaturated fatty acids and amino acids from animal meat and that is essential. “A vegetarian dog may appear healthy but there are many things that may not be right with it such as performance, body proportions...,” he says.

Sometimes the dogs suffer from diabetes, cardiac problems and obesity that are directly related to an unnatural diet, says Dr Venkateswaran who has seen several cases of obesity in dogs due to a large intake of carbohydrates. “These pets are usually fed with the same food that their owners eat. This leads to serious health issues.” So, he warns, the next time you are thinking of feeding them with rice and sambar, think again.

But, there is another equally persuasive school of thought that says vegetarian food can be good for the dogs. Mini Vasudevan, Managing Trustee of Humane Animal Society, Coimbatore, says that dogs can adjust to a vegetarian diet. “By their genetic pedigree, dogs do demonstrate carnivorous traits like wolves. But, with thousands of years of domestication, they can also lead normal lives if they are put on a vegetarian or vegan diet as long as the food is balanced,” she says.

Quick tips

Dr Venkateswaran answers a few common questions.

What is the exact proportion of vegetarian to non-vegetarian food that one must feed dogs?

20:80 with vegetarian food being 20 per cent and non-vegetarian 80 per cent

How many times a day must one feed the dog?

It depends on the age and size of the breed till the dog grows up. Once a dog attains physical and physiological maturity, it should be fed just once a day.

What are the vegetables/fruits that one must absolutely avoid?

Grapes because it causes kidney problems; tomatoes because this can lead to stones in the urinary system; onion and garlic can cause anemia; chocolate will cause blood disorders


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Printable version | Sep 9, 2021 12:44:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/can-dogs-survive-on-a-vegetarian-diet/article19301872.ece

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