What you feed your pet are your choice and decision, but the advice from vets and animal food experts can go a long way in keeping them healthy and happy for a long time.
But if you happen to be a dog owner in the UK, you soon may not have the liberty of choosing a meat-free diet for your beloved pet.
British pet owners have been warned against putting their dogs on a vegetarian or vegan diet as it could end up being against the law.
The UK’s Animal Welfare Act stipulates that people must ensure their pets get a ‘suitable diet’ and ‘meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs.
The 2006 piece of legislation doesn’t mention anything about the specific contents of the food you give to your four-legged friend.
Daniella Dos Santos from the British Veterinarian Association said: “If your personal belief system means you don’t want to eat any animal protein, that’s fine, but that diet is not designed to meet the welfare standards of your pet.”
She added that it is only ‘theoretically possible’ to feed only vegetables to a diet. But practically, things become much tougher.
“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 added.
But the law is not only limited to the diet. It also states that owners must ensure their pets live in a safe and suitable environment, exhibit normal behavior patterns, and be protected from pain and suffering of any kind.
If a pet owner violates the aforementioned rules, he or she can face a fine of up to £20,000 or even be jailed.
The warnings and advisories have come after a 2019 study revealed that many are putting their pets on meat-free diets.
The vegan community has been passionate about this topic. Many vegan pet owners believe that cats and dogs can be trained to eat a plant-based diet. These pet owners have been sharing their experiences on social media for years now. They claim that it only took a few weeks of training before their dog or cat was completely able to switch from meat-based food into the plant world. In fact, there are some vegan dog food brands being sold on the market that claim to be able to fully replace meat-based diets.
However, vets have been warning pet owners about these so-called “dog and cat vegetarian foods” for years now.
Blue Cross spokesperson Emily Mottram said, “It is possible to feed dogs and cats a vegetarian diet, but it is essential they receive the correct balance of nutrients. It takes specialist knowledge of animal nutrition plus years of experience to formulate and prepare complete and balanced pet food… We would always advise people who are concerned about this issue to seek expert advice from their vet before making any changes to what an animal eats.”