Saturday, February 14, 2015

When feeding meat to a dog is just not an option

A vet that I respect a lot is Dr. Jean Dodds. I find her views to be balanced, logical, reasonable and non-biased by commercial interests. Her approach is holistic and yet well researched. That sits well with me.

I often run into clients who are the most loving of people towards their dogs. But their situation, for several different reasons forces a vegetarian diet. For such clients, here is an excerpt from Dr. Dodds blogs.
Some days it's veg at home. I nom nom it. 

Indian clients need to remember that we don't have all the ingredients she recommends. And I am not an expert in nutrition to know what is the right replacement. If anyone does have suggestions on local replacements, I would love to know.

I have found that highly intolerant dogs may benefit from a vegetarian-based diet. Although the question of whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores continues, research clearly demonstrates that a properly-balanced vegetarian diet can provide all of the essential amino acids and other nutrients necessary for optimum health. Excellent plant-based sources of protein, in descending order of their protein, include:
  • Hemp seeds 33 g/100g (shelled) 
  • Lentils 9.02 g/100g (cooked)
  • Chickpeas 8.86 g/100g (cooked)
  • Kidney beans 8.7 g/100g (cooked)
  • Split peas         8.3 g/100g (cooked)
  • Lima beans 6.8 g/100g (cooked)
  • Quinoa 4.4 g/100g (cooked)
  • Millet 3.5 g/100g (cooked)
  • Buckwheat groats (kasha) 3.4 g/100g (roasted)
  • Kale         3.3 g/100g (raw)
  • Black eyed peas             3.2 g/100g (cooked)
  • Spinach 3 g/100g (cooked)
  • Brown rice    (long grain) 2.6 g/100g (cooked)            
  • Green beans                   1.9 g/100g (cooked)
  • Sweet potatoes                1.4 g/100g (cooked without skin)
To pump up the protein of a plant-based diet, you can include eggs (preferably organic) and some goat or sheep’s milk cheese or yogurt – if your dog tolerates these foods.
Note that cats’ requirements are different. Cats should NOT be fed a vegetarian diet, as they are true carnivores that require meat.
However this is a vice caveat that she provides to all pet parents who like to cook for their dogs. Her advice seems sound and reasonable to me. Though she does warn against substitutions, I don't think we in India have a choice but to replace with some more easily available local ingredients. That apart, the rest seems quite doable.
Doing it right
The biggest concern with homemade diets is that, unless properly formulated and followed, the diet may not be nutritionally balanced. For this reason, I strongly advise that you obtain your recipe from a reputable source, such as a book published by a holistic or holistically minded veterinarian, board-certified veterinary nutritionist, or canine/feline nutritionist where the recipes have been tested and verified as nutritionally balanced.  If you are able, you can also consult with a reputable animal nutritionist to design the diet. 

When preparing a homemade diet for your dog or cat, it’s essential to stick to the ingredients listed. Substituting ingredients can result in a diet that is no longer nutritionally balanced. Also, be sure to add all vitamin/mineral and any other supplements as directed; these supplements are essential to ensuring that the diet is properly balanced.

In addition to providing fresh, wholesome nutrition and limiting exposure to reactive ingredients, home prepared diets offer your pet an interesting mealtime experience, further enriching the bond you share. Bon appetite!

Disclaimer: Nishi is wearing a choke collar in the picture. That was used only ornamentally on her to carry her name tag. We no more use it ornamentally either and I do not recommend use of this product in any form.   

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