It is estimated that the number of vegans in the UK has increased by 360% over the past ten years, with about 542 people becoming vegan. The English are a nation of animal lovers, with pets present in about 000% of homes, with around 44 million dogs across the UK. It is only natural that at such rates, the influence of veganism begins to spread to pet food. As a result, both vegetarian and vegan dog foods have already been developed.
Cats are natural carnivores, which means they need to eat meat to survive, but dogs can, in theory, live on a plant-based diet – though that doesn’t necessarily mean you should put your pet on that diet.
Dogs and wolves
The domestic dog is actually a subspecies of the gray wolf. Although they differ significantly in many ways, wolves and dogs are still able to interbreed and produce viable and fertile offspring.
Although gray wolves are successful hunters, their diet can change significantly depending on the environment and season. Studies of wolves in Yellowstone Park in the US have shown that their summer diet includes small rodents, birds, and invertebrates, as well as larger animals such as moose and mules. It is known, however, that along with this, plant elements, especially herbs, are very common in their diet – 74% of samples of wolf droppings contain them.
about wolves showed that they eat both cereals and fruits. The difficulty lies in the fact that studies usually do not estimate how much of the diet of wolves consists of plant matter. Thus, it is difficult to determine how omnivorous wolves and domestic dogs are.
But, of course, dogs are not like wolves in everything. The dog is thought to have been domesticated around 14 years ago – although recent genetic evidence suggests that this could have happened as early as 000 years ago. A lot has changed during this time, and over many generations, human civilization and food have had an increasing influence on dogs.
In 2013, Swedish researchers determined that the dog’s genome contains an increased amount of code that produces an enzyme called amylase, which is key in the digestion of starch. This means that dogs are five times better than wolves at metabolizing starch—in grains, beans, and potatoes. This may indicate that domestic dogs may be fed grains and grains. The researchers also found a version of another enzyme important in the digestion of starch, maltose, in domestic dogs. Compared to wolves, this enzyme in dogs is more similar to the type found in herbivores like cows and omnivores like rats.
The adaptation of dogs to a plant-based diet during domestication occurred not only at the level of enzymes. In all animals, bacteria in the intestines are involved in the process of digestion to one degree or another. It has been found that the gut microbiome in dogs is very different from that of wolves – the bacteria in it are more likely to break down carbohydrates and to some extent produce the amino acids normally found in meat.
The very way we feed our dogs is also very different from how wolves eat. Changes in the diet, quantity and quality of food during the process of domestication led to a decrease in the size of the body and the size of the teeth of dogs.
have shown that in North America domesticated dogs are more prone to tooth loss and fracture than wolves, even though they are fed softer foods.
The size and shape of a dog’s skull has a significant impact on their ability to chew food. The growing trend of breeding dog breeds with short muzzles suggests that we are further weaning domestic dogs from eating hard bones.
There hasn’t been much research done yet on plant-based feeding to dogs. As omnivores, dogs must be able to adapt to and digest well-cooked vegetarian foods that contain the essential nutrients normally obtained from meat. One study found that a carefully crafted vegetarian diet is suitable even for active sled dogs. But keep in mind that not all pet food is produced the right way. A study in the USA showed that 25% of the feeds on the market do not contain all the necessary nutrients.
But a homemade vegetarian diet may not be good for dogs. A European study of 86 dogs found that more than half were deficient in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, zinc, and vitamins D and B12.
It is also worth considering the fact that chewing bones and meat can positively influence the behavior of dogs, as well as be an enjoyable and relaxing process for them. Because many pet dogs are often left alone at home and experience feelings of loneliness, these opportunities can be very beneficial for your pet.