Warnings on vegan diets for dogs

March 11, 2011 at 2:47 PM
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NEW YORK, March 11 (UPI) -- People putting their dogs on vegan diets thinking it's healthy for them are not doing the animals any favors, U.S. veterinarians say.

While a vegan diet may provide a number of health benefits for humans looking to lose weight and lower their cholesterol and blood pressure, veterinarians say that going meatless may not be the best thing for dogs, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

"People feel it's good for their pet because it's good for them," Dr. Benjamin Davis, a vet at NYC Veterinary Specialists, said. But, he said, "dogs and cats, they're carnivores and they do eat meat as part of their natural diet."

Some pet stores have begun stocking vegetarian-based product for pet owners wanting to take the meatless route for their animal companions.

But there can be disadvantages, some store owners say.

"There are a number of health benefits, but there are health detriments as well," Phil Klein, a co-owner of Whiskers Holistic Pet Store in the East Village, said. "It depends on the individual animal and the reason the dog is being put on a vegan diet.

"If it's well thought out, it could be OK. We do an awful lot of work with allergenic animals and sometimes will recommend a vegetarian or vegan diet because the majority of allergies are due to particular proteins."

However, Davis said, for most dogs there is little advantage to going vegan, as even animals suffering from food allergies risk missing out on essential proteins, vitamins and minerals that come from meat products.

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