Throughout India and now even in other parts of world the vegetarianism is growing in popularity. According to a research done by pedigree dog food manufacturing company at least 40% Indians are strictly vegetarian including their dogs, as meat, eggs chicken etc are absolute ‘no-no’ for these vegetarians.
Amazingly many dog owners and few professionals suggest that vegetarian dogs are low on aggression and it keeps them fitter. On the other hand there are no scientific findings that support such theories of vegetarian diets are better for dogs, in fact we have millions of ‘Non-Veg’ dogs who are very good with their temper and low on aggression and extremely fit. According to many vets we spoke, to get some insights in this matter, most confirmed that there are many cases that come to vets across the country where dogs are under-nourished because the owners want to feed only veg diet.
Many dog experts suggest that Non-veg food is very much essential for dogs. Ms. Kat, Owner of Gourmet dog Bakery and a nutritionist since years, suggests that where a dog will survive well on vegetarian diet, he will surely thrive on the non-veg diet. According to Dr. Badgujar, Dogs anatomy is designed to extract maximum out of Non-Veg food, and may not do equally well on vegetarian diet. The simple fact is that dogs that are kept on Veg-Diet are given excessive supplements at times for filling up the nutritional deficit in their diet.
But Only Veg Diet is not the culprit for lack of nutrition in dogs, it’s also the variety. According to an article in ‘Times of India’, dated 26-Aug-2010, Hairstylist Usha Jain, 55, adopted a stray puppy three years ago. It has been on a diet of milk, biscuits, bread ever since. "This way, he'll get used to it and won't eat just anything off the road like other dogs,'' said Usha Jain. Such dog owners need to consult a good nutritionist to realize that such diets hardly give any nutrition to dog.
Reasons for feeding a dog vegetarian food varies from owner to owner, for some it's convenient to get one kind of food in the house or religious believes, others are concerned about their dogs' health and habits. If for any given reason an owner wants to keep his dog Veg, there are few important things to consider first before buying the dog. i.e. the size of dog, type of dog and activity level. Dog owners who want to keep their dogs on a veg diet and still keep them fit have to work a bit harder than others, adding variety is important i.e. veggies, soups, cereals, milk products etc.
According to the article in ‘Time of India’; Bhavna Bhatt, who runs Apollo dogs' boarding house in Noida, says at least 20 of her over 250 clients ask her to give their dogs’ vegetarian food, "I've had cases where dogs did not accept vegetarian food such as curd rice and roti. During longer boardings, this can be a problem as they start getting weaker. I have had to phone the owners to ask them if I can give them boiled chicken with rice or roti. Most of them agree. And the dog is usually more receptive to this Nov-Veg food,'' says Bhatt.
Doctors, however recommend a substantial non-vegetarian component in dogs' diet to meet their protein requirements. Jangpura-based vet Dr Anil Sood says a mixed diet for dogs, helps them get fibres from vegetables and proteins from meat. "A purely vegetarian diet for dogs is not healthy at all. It can make their muscles weak and their coat rough. But for people who insist on vegetarian food, I recommend that they at least feed their dogs cottage cheese as it is protein-rich,'' says Dr Sood.
The ‘Animal Welfare Board of India’, on the other hand, makes a strong case for vegetarian food for our domesticated furry friends, dedicating an entire page on their website to it. It includes tips on how to keep your dog vegetarian, converting your dog into one and also lists healthy vegetarian alternatives for dogs with recipes.
Interestingly, in Somerset, England, Anne Heritage's Border collie Bramble lived to be 19. Anne kept the dog on a completely vegan diet, feeding it a mixture of rice and lentils. However, modern science claims that the age of the living being is more decided by the gene then its food being veg or non-veg.
Indeed, there's a lot more to think about when you make a choice between the leg piece and the lettuce for your pooch.
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