Plant based diets are growing more popular for humans and their furry friends alike for a variety of reasons. A plant based diet for dogs promotes sustainability, provides solutions to allergies, helps control weight, and boasts anti-inflammatory and immune boosting ingredients, and can be incredibly tasty as well! Still, some pet parents are understandably skeptical of plant based diets and want to do a little research about the niche.
Freshpet acknowledges that pet parents often have questions surrounding plant based diets, with one of the most common being how we can safely introduce plant based products to our dogs. Here, Freshpet explores a few tips that pet parents can use!
Compare Brands to Find the Best Fit
A good first step for introducing your dog to a plant based diet is to do a bit of research on the space. By looking online to compare offerings, you can get a better idea of what foods may be the best fit for your pet. Freshpet acknowledges that, with the boom of plant based foods, there are many to choose from. Different varieties may contain proteins from a number of sources such as nuts, seeds, tofu, seitan, etc. Some plant based pet foods lean more vegetarian than vegan as well. For example, Freshpet Spring & Sprout is a plant-based, vegetarian option. It is not vegan, however, because it contains cage-free eggs for the nutritional benefits.
Speak with Your Vet
Speaking with and visiting your vet regularly are essential for helping your dog live a long, healthy life. It is important to speak with your vet or pet nutritionist when considering a plant based diet for dogs because they can offer great guidance on the subject. Your veterinarian may offer insights on what to look for in plant based foods such as AAFCO approval and high quality ingredients. Pet nutritionists can also offer valuable guidance because they are highly trained in the specifics of animal wellness and nutrition. They can provide information on certain supplements or recommend vegetarian pet foods that include ethically sourced animal proteins such as eggs.
Avoid Empty Carbs and Fillers
There is a lot of discussion in the pet food world about grains and whether or not they should have a place in pet food recipes. Regardless of where you fall in the debate, it is important for pet parents to be vigilant regarding empty carbs and fillers when exploring plant-based diets especially. This is because, when consuming fewer animal products, it is imperative that your dog is able to get all the nutrients they need from the other ingredients within the recipe. If his or her food is filled with fillers and empty carbs, they may not get all of their necessary nutrition and their health may suffer as a result.
Start With a Gradual Transition
As with most dietary changes, it is always a good idea to start small when exploring a plant based diet with your dog. Simply put, dogs need time to adjust to new foods, and transitioning too quickly can cause a variety of problems such as stomach and GI issues. Experts recommend treating plant based diets much like any other food switch. This means pet parents should start with a small amount (20-25%) along with their current, preferred option. From there, you can slowly include more over the course of about a week until they are 100% on the new food. Testing out new diets with your dogs can be a bit daunting, so do not forget to consult your vet to ensure that you are taking all the right precautions to maintain your dog’s health!
See How They Like It!
As pet parents, we naturally want our dog to like their food. A great way to tell how they are feeling about their new diet is to see if they still have that telltale enthusiastic response to mealtime. In our excitement to explore a plant based diet for dogs, it is still best to take their opinions into account as well! Beyond how your dog responds to their new food, it is also a good idea to evaluate their mood, energy levels, and coat. If your dog is lethargic, in a bad mood, or is showing signs of a dry, dull coat, consult your vet to see if they are getting all of the nutrients that they need.
Exploring a Plant Based Diet for Dogs Can Be Fun!
Dogs, much like people, can crave variety in their foods and exploring multiple types of products is excellent for providing your dog with more options. Trying new diets can be a bit stressful as we pet parents have our dogs’ health and safety in mind, but the process can be fun and informative as well! Our advice to pet parents interested in exploring a plant based diet for dogs is to speak with the experts, start slow, and have fun with it. There are so many great options out there!