Mythbuster Monday! …Do Dogs Need Meat in Their Diets?



Myth: Dogs need meat in their diets.

Fact: Dogs are omnivorous (as are people), so a vegetarian diet may be acceptable. Though some strict vegetarians would argue with me, cats are born carnivorous and require high amounts of animal dietary protein, and should not be fed totally vegetarian diets.

As is true with people who prefer vegetarian diets, protein or vitamin deficiency can occur in dogs who eat strictly vegetarian diets if they are not properly supplemented. If you are concerned about dietary imbalances, you may wish to feed your dog a commercial vegetarian diet rather than prepare one at home. If you choose to prepare homemade meals, work with your veterinarian or nutritionist to properly formulate a balanced diet.

I have a number of vegetarians in my practice who do not mind their dogs eating meat or animal-based products. In the wild, dogs prefer animal-based protein. I think it’s important that they eat the diet most closely resembling what they would eat if hunting on their own. Nevertheless, I respect your dietary choice and would not have a problem advising you to feed your dog a vegetarian diet (even though he would most likely prefer a diet that contains some amount of animal-based protein), as long as you heed my cautions about doing so. If you choose to purchase a natural diet for your dog, make sure it’s free of animal and plant byproducts, and chemicals such as BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin.
—Shawn Messonnier, DVM

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Originally published in AKC FAMILY DOG.

To read more from FAMILY DOG, click here.


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4 comments on “Mythbuster Monday! …Do Dogs Need Meat in Their Diets?
  1. bestuvall says:

    I personally think this is harmful to dogs. Dogs are not “omnivores” they are mainly carnivorous and should be treated as such.. If you cannot feed your dog the appropriate diet for maximum health get a rabbit
    Dogs are non obligate carnivores to sate they are “omnivores” as “fact” is incorrect and a disservice to dogs in general I am disappointed to see this on an AKC website

  2. Lynn Haughwout says:

    I am very disappointed to see this article here. All you have to do is look at a dogs teeth and digestive track to see that they are designed to eat meat. WOW AKC you really missed it on this one.

  3. This is yet another disturbing article on how people are trying to force their ideology onto our pets now. It’s not enough for the dog owner to be a vegetarian, now the dog has to one too.

    I’ve been studying dogs my entire life and I know for certain that dogs are healthiest when they eat a diet that consumers more meat than anything. I will never associate with club in any way and I promise that I will share this ridiculous article with all canine carnivore, dog loving parents I know; and I know a lot of them!

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