Food for Thought: Do you still think dogs need to be fed like wolves?

Earlier in January, I was at the Yoga Expo event in Pasadena. I happened to meet Roger Wolfson, commissioner at the LA Animal Services Board, who is driving the initiative of swapping the doggie meat based meals with plant based meals for health reason. The proposal that divided the city of LA and has since raised a lot debate and questions. Anytime you talk plant based dog foods, the Carnivore vs. Omnivore debate is sure to come up.

Like, dog's are Carnivores and not Omnivores.

Dog’s are no longer wolves, while they may share their DNA with thei ancestors, genetics also proves that they have evolved alongside humans. It is dinner that was key to domestication of dogs! Genomic studies across the world indicate that dog’s have evolved to eat plant based foods. I’ve shared some of the studies published at the end of this blog.

Robert Wayne, a geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is also studying ancient dog genomes, says “Starch metabolism could have been an important adaptation for dogs.”

My observation growing up in India, it was very common for dogs to be a plant based or vegetarian diet made from the human grade ingredients. I don’t recall dog’s being affected with as many diseases or health issues which seem to more prevalent in the modern dogs. Science and testimonies from people indicate that dog's need specific nutrition and the nutrients can be derived from plant or animal sources. I experienced the benefits of plants based diets, when I switched both Curry and Brownie to a plant based diet about 6 years ago. They are now healthy and happy full of vitality - no more GI issues or allergies!

We believe that no one diet is better than the other, its all about finding the ideal state of balance and diet is continuous feedback process that help achieve balance. If the meat based diets were perfect, then dog’s would be free of disease and healthy, right? But, dog’s on meat based diets can be prone to disease and health issues, just like dog’s on any other diets. Disease is caused when body deviates from it natural balance. 

Likewise dog’s on plant based diets can thrive as well as dogs on meat based diet. A study conducted by Andrew Knight compared vegetarian diets with meat based diets. The study revealed a growing body of population and case reports indicating that cats and dogs maintained on vegetarian diets may be healthy—including those exercising at the highest levels—and, indeed, may experience a range of health benefits. Infact, a study from 2009 by Brown et al revealed that sprint racing huskies excelled on plant based diets.

Across the globe several people are raising dogs on plant based diets and are seeing improvement in their pet’s health. It makes sense because the amount of toxins that bio-accumulate in plant based foods is far less than in meat based foods. Which means plant based foods have more Prana than meat based diets. Prana is the universal life energy, which yoga experts believe is abundant in plant based foods and absent in meat based foods.

On one hand while there may not be enough research, there are countless testimonies and case studies that indicate that there is no significant deviation in the health dogs fed plant based diets vs. a meat based diet. In addition, there have shown to be decreased incidences of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism, ectoparasites, improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, decreased arthritis, diabetes regression, and even cataract resolution. A well-known testimony is about Bramble, who was vegan and is one of the longest-lived dogs in recorded history (25 years).

When asked if dogs can eat vegetarian or vegan diets, Dr. Ernie Ward DVM said - “The simple answer is that dogs can do just fine on a carefully balanced vegetarian or vegan diet” . Dr Ernie is a vegetarian vet, who has been feeding his dog’s what he calls the "hybrid menu" for the past 14-plus years. He cooks vegetarian meals for his pets one to three times a week, and then feeds them from a bag or a can the other days. Some excellent non-meat protein sources for dogs include quinoa, rice, lentils, potatoes, soybeans, garbanzo beans, spinach and broccoli, to name a few.

Maybe it is time for US to RETHINK the modern dog’s diet with an open mind. There is no one diet, nature offers nutrients through a variety of sources - plant based is one such source and deserves its place in the mainstream dog diet.

Food for thought: The growing number of testimonies that indicate dog health and vitality can be achieved through plants based diet, is worth giving a thought. In talking to several people, we also came across that several shelters (mainly volunteer run) around the world that have begun to make this switch! 

Do you still think dogs need to be fed like wolves?

If you answered No, then please sign the petition and support the move towards a plant based diet at LAAS.

To learn more about the shelters around the world adopting a plant based diet:

Gentle World: www.gentleword.org A non-profit organization and intentional community, providing vegan education and inspirations since 1979.

One Family Animal Shelter: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ONEfamilyLV/about/?ref=page_internal

One Family Animal Sanctuary located in Las Vegas is a vegan farm animal rescue and sanctuary. They provide a safe haven for animals in need of protection, love and a peaceful way of life.

Animal Aid Unlimited: https://animalaidunlimited.org Animal Aide is a vital rescue center, hospital and sanctuary for injured and ill street animals in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. They rescue thousands of hurt and sick animals each year and provide sanctuary to those who need life long care.

References:

  1. The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to starch rich diets.
  2. Vegetarian vs Meat based diets for Companion Animals by Andrew Knight
  3. Vegan Nutrition of Dogs and Cats by Vorgelegt von Pia-Gloria Semp
  4. Raw Diets for Companion Animals: A critical review
  5. An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs.
  6. Diet adaptations in dogs reflects spread of prehistoric agriculture