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Animals 2016, 6(9), 57; doi:10.3390/ani6090057

Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals

Centre for Animal Welfare, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
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Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 8 July 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 21 September 2016
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Simple Summary

Many owners of companion animals are interested in vegetarian diets for their animals, as concerns increase about the consequences of animal farming, for health, animal welfare, and the environment. However, are vegetarian diets for cats and dogs nutritionally balanced and healthy? This article comprehensively reviews the evidence published to date from four studies that have examined the nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets for cats and dogs. To obtain additional information, we surveyed 12 pet food companies detailed in the most recent study. We also examined the nutritional soundness of meat-based companion-animal diets, and reviewed the evidence concerning the health status of vegetarian, carnivorous and omnivorous companion animals. Both cats and dogs may thrive on vegetarian diets, but these must be nutritionally complete and reasonably balanced. Owners should also regularly monitor urinary acidity, and should correct urinary alkalinisation through appropriate dietary additives, if necessary.

Abstract

Companion animal owners are increasingly concerned about the links between degenerative health conditions, farm animal welfare problems, environmental degradation, fertilizers and herbicides, climate change, and causative factors; such as animal farming and the consumption of animal products. Accordingly, many owners are increasingly interested in vegetarian diets for themselves and their companion animals. However, are vegetarian canine and feline diets nutritious and safe? Four studies assessing the nutritional soundness of these diets were reviewed, and manufacturer responses to the most recent studies are provided. Additional reviewed studies examined the nutritional soundness of commercial meat-based diets and the health status of cats and dogs maintained on vegetarian and meat-based diets. Problems with all of these dietary choices have been documented, including nutritional inadequacies and health problems. However, a significant and growing body of population studies and case reports have indicated 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. Such diets must be nutritionally complete and reasonably balanced, however, and owners should regularly monitor urinary acidity and should correct urinary alkalinisation through appropriate dietary additives, if necessary. View Full-Text
Keywords: vegetarian; vegan; cat; dog; Felis catus; Canis lupus familiaris; Canis familiaris vegetarian; vegan; cat; dog; Felis catus; Canis lupus familiaris; Canis familiaris
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MDPI and ACS Style

Knight, A.; Leitsberger, M. Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals. Animals 2016, 6, 57.

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