Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals

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.

This article has been written by Andrew Knight (AWRN member) and Madelaine Leitsberger from University of Winchester. 

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