Vets warn against vegan lifestyle for pets
By Sonali Shenoy - CHENNAI
24th July 2012 08:53 AM
Watching a labrador lap up a bowl full of curd rice is a common sight at a vegetarian home. In fact, these days, animal lovers are going a step further. With a growing community of vegans in the city, it seems only the natural order of events to introduce their pets to veganism as well. Says Logasaraswathi, who made the vegan transition two years ago, “My biggest problem actually was stopping milk for my pets.”
With two Dobermans at home and one Indian dog, she it was quite a task getting her dogs to ease into dairy substitutes. “I tried soy milk. When that didn’t work, I mixed in a helping of cashew powder for flavouring.”
Protein is supplemented by boiled sprouts, dal and channa. Idli, dosa and chappatis make for good variety when rice gets boring, chewy bones are replaced by raw carrots and vegan cakes make for a treat on their birthdays!
Retired bank officer Sashi Mohan carries on a similar vegetarian diet for her Indian dog Vicky and dalmatian, Duffy. “Oh they enjoy their boiled carrots and cabbage,” she says. This is usually mixed in with a meal of dal rice. While getting a dog or cat to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet may be innocent enough for pet owners, veterinarian Priyadarshini Govind says that it results in a huge compromise in their immunity. “In general, vegetarian dogs tend require more visits to the vet,” she states. “Stunted growth, dull coats and even a lower IQ is noticed at times.” As a recommended diet for pet owners who are non-meat eaters and she responds, “A ‘lacto-ovo’ (dairy products with eggs) is a good option.” She adds, “If that is not possible, then try the commercial Pedigree available in the market. It has all the nutrients required for your pet.” However, for religious reasons or purely moral beliefs, some owners refuse to budge. “I just don’t believe in killing one animal to feed another,” states Logasaraswathi.
In response, Dr Priyadarshini says, “Cats and dogs are naturally carnivorous animals.” She adds, “If you want to go against nature’s cycle with a vegan diet, take home a cow.”
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