What's good for you is good for your dog. It sounds like solid logic, but it has some major swiss cheese-sized holes, especially when it comes to diet. Like me, you want the best for your furry pal. (After all, who else has seen you at your 3 a.m. worst and still wanted to lick your tear-and-snot-streaked face?) So you might be tempted to shift your dog to a vegetarian diet, especially since you've noticed more and more vegetarian options on the pet food aisle.
The problem is, this trend in vegetarian pet food isn't founded on science. At all. In fact, experts warn that the nutritional deficiencies in a vegetarian diet could lead to serious health problems for pets. Dogs can experience stunted growth, heart problems, skin problems and low energy levels. Cats fare even worse with a vegetarian diet, developing blindness, brain damage, and even early death.
And the scariest part, according to Gudrun Ravetz, junior vice-president of the British Veterinary Association, is that these health problems are often irreversible and can develop within mere months of a meat-free diet. Owners may not realize the problems before it's too late.
We've already established that it's a bad idea to feed dogs as if they are wolves. It's equally dangerous to feed them as if they are human. Dogs and cats get essential nutrition from the meat in their diet, something that is almost entirely impossible to recreate in a meat-free diet without severe supplementation. And why supplement a diet with pills and extracts prescribed and overseen by a veterinarian when the best form of this nutrition is in real, available foods? A balanced diet of meat protein and vegetables is the best (and frankly, easiest) way to get your dog all the essential nutrients he needs for a long, healthy life.
So go ahead and share your exercise plan with your dog, your love of Ska music, road trips, and even your obsession with filtered water. But when it comes to diet, your dog should have his meat and eat it too.