In the last few years several dog food companies have developed hypoallergenic dog foods.Often dog owners are confused about these products and do not truly understand why they have been developed and when to consider them for their dog and what the benefits might be.
The easiest way to think about hypoallergenic dog food is that these foods contain ingredients that are better suited to a dog’s natural digestive system and they are designed to address a food allergy.
A dog’s digestive system is designed to break down raw proteins and some vegetable matter however the ingredients in many dry and some wet dog foods in the United States are largely made up of corn, wheat, dairy, soy and other grains.This can cause the dog’s own digestive system to work against properly breaking down the food. The result can be an allergy to one or more of the ingredients which can cause health problems; such as itchy skin, hot spots, hair loss, upset stomach, as well as episodes of diarrhea and vomiting. [Read More...]
Should Dogs Eat Vegan, Too?
Although they belong to the order, Carnivore, dogs are functionally omnivores. This means that they can survive on a diet that does not include meat. However, experts differ on their opinion as to whether it a vegan diet for dogs is suitable or healthy.
Because they are omnivores, dogs can survive and thrive on a wide variety of diets. All experts agree that dogs can survive on suitably-formulated vegetarian and vegan diets. It is the “thrive” part that they differ in response to.
There is no doubt that a vegan diet does not naturally include all of nutrients that a dog requires. However, even a meat-based diet must be balanced carefully. This is why most veterinarians, whether they believe dogs can be healthy vegans or not, recommend using either a commercial food or at least one formulated by a nutrition expert. These diets almost always include synthetic supplements.
It is possible for a dog to get more of its required nutrients from a food source when they are fed animal products, though. Low-quality meat-based dog foods rely heavily on supplementation, but higher quality foods incorporate a wide variety of foods to meet as many nutritional needs as possible. Since there is little agreement on whether supplements are as good as nutrients derived from whole foods, this may or may not mean that a vegan diet is inferior.
Many experts point out that dogs cannot source some major nutrients from plant-based foods as well as from animal foods. They are not as efficient as humans at converting beta carotene into vitamin A, for example, and they are able to use more of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil than in flax seed oil. However, the latter is true of humans as well, and may simply indicate that a larger amount of the plant-based form is required. Experts have different opinions on the subject.
Dogs do digest animal protein more efficiently than plant protein. However, their overall need for protein can be met by supplying more plant-based protein. Soy is one of the best plant sources of protein, but is also a common allergen for dogs.
The modern trend has also been to feed dogs more protein than was previously recommended, and it is difficult to feed a high protein vegan diet. The reason for high-protein diets is to limit carbohydrates, which some experts believe are detrimental to a dog’s health in large quantities. A vegan diet for dogs is unavoidably high in carbohydrates.
The nutritional requirements that must be met to keep a dog alive have been known for a while. However, what is not known is what role certain “non-essential” foods may play in keeping a dog healthy. This has been used as an argument both for and against the use of a vegan diet for dogs. In humans, eating a vegan diet appears to be beneficial to overall health. However, cutting out a group of foods that a species has historically relied on might also cut out important, unknown nutrients.
If you are considering changing your dog’s diet, always consult your veterinarian first. Each animal is an individual and what is right for him or her may not be what is right for the next dog. Your veterinarian should always be an important source of information about how to feed your dog.
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