A vegetarian diet for cats and dogs: can the alternative dietary choice of a large percentage of the population be automatically extended to our four-legged friends? Respect for the animal’s nature should guide the choice of savvy owners.
Nutrition for dogs and cats: the differences with man
Man is an omnivore and, as such, is perfectly adapted to benefit from a varied diet. Due to our digestive systems, we are able to meet our protein requirements through proteins that have a medium and low biological value (as in the case of legumes and cereals). Man also has another very important gift: free will, he can choose what he eats for himself, without any undue influence.
The situation is completely different for dogs and cats, starting with two fundamental principles:
– A cat is a carnivore in the strictest sense; a dog is an optional carnivore
– They are not free to choose; we impose nutrition on them
Proteins are not all the same: they are made up of different amino acids depending on whether they come from the meat, fish or plants (legumes and cereals).
If the cat belongs to the order of the carnivores, there is a reason.
We say that a cat is a carnivore in the strictest sense, but what does it mean? It means that a cat is not able to produce certain substances alone, it must get them through the food that it eats. These substances are essential amino acids such as taurine, lysine etc. that are mostly found in animal protein. Through animal proteins cats derive their main source of energy through a process called gluconeogenesis.
The situation with a dog is slightly different: born as a carnivore, it has adapted well to ‘human feeding’ as it has no need for essential nutrients like the cat. For example, a dog does not suffer from taurine deficiency. But we must keep in mind, that it is strongly recommended to serve it a diet with a good base of meat. In fact, animal proteins are valuable for its metabolism and affect the appeal of the food itself through the dog’s perceptions of taste and smell.
If we feed our dog or our cat using a meat-free, vegetarian diet, we would be forced integrate chemically to overcome the deficiencies. But should we wonder how much would be ethical and healthy to deprive a living being of its primary source of sustenance to replace it with chemical integration? An example on which to ponder is: would you impose a carnivorous diet on a herbivore? Could a horse eat meat? When cattle were given a diet containing animal protein, the consequences were dramatic and notorious – BSE, more commonly known as mad cow disease.
Almo Nature chooses to respect the nature of our four-legged friends by proposing feeding them “from their point of view”, aware of the current environment and future evolution, as underlined by founder Pier Giovanni Capellino: “It is highly likely that the future of feeding will be vegetarian (personally, I consider it inevitable). The fact is, today cats are still carnivorous and dogs are primarily carnivorous and, above all, they have always been this way: Almo Nature produces food for them, in our current times, and tries to give them the best possible product.”