Image Credit: Animal Planet
As millions of people tuned in to watch Team Fluff play against Team Ruff in the Puppy Bowl on Sunday, a debate came up after the introduction of a rescue dog named Peanut.
— DancingAries94 ? (@DancingAries94) February 5, 2017
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Peanut is a 19-week-old Brussels Griffon in the foster care of a Las Vegas vegan chef named Mindy Poortinga.
Poortinga told Animal Planet that she prefers to feed dogs vegan food to ensure they don’t eat animal by-products:
“Their fur and skin has improved drastically.”
So when it was time for Peanut to take the field, Animal Planet announcers said that the puppy is fed only vegan meals.
This set off alarm bells for many people watching on Twitter, including a veterinarian named Casey Cazer:
— Casey Cazer (@clcazer) February 5, 2017
Many people called out Animal Planet for not properly educating their viewers on dog nutrition:
— mads? (@madsvogel) February 5, 2017
Even a vegan piped in and voiced her concern for the health of Peanut:
So, what’s the deal? Is it safe for dogs to be vegans?
According to an article published on the Daily Telegraph, animal veterinarian and journalist Peter Wedderburn says dogs have evolved to be omnivores. Much like humans, it can be safe for them to be vegan, but it must be monitored:
“Despite their origins, dogs have evolved to be omnivores, naturally equipped to eat plant-based food. As long as their diet is complete and balanced, they can be vegetarian, or even vegan. The safest way to do this is to purchase a commercially manufactured complete vegetarian dog food that has gone through feeding trials.”
Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian and writer for PetMD, wrote that it’s more difficult for dogs to get the nutrition they need if they are vegan compared to vegetarian, but it can be done:
“Even veganism—consuming a diet that does not include any animal products—though a little trickier, is possible for dogs. The right balance of different plant-based sources of protein (e.g., beans, corn, soy and whole grains) can still provide the needed amino acids.”
It appears that most dogs, like humans, can have a pretty flexible diet. That said, it is recommended that owners consult their veterinarian before making the switch to vegan or vegetarian food to ensure the dog remains healthy during the transition. But proper dog food from manufacturers should meet the necessary guidelines to keep dogs healthy.