I Try to Live a Non-Killing Life, So How Should I Feed My Cats and Dogs?
- 2011 July-August
I have been conflicted about this because I am a vegetarian, and I would love for cats and dogs to be vegetarian as well. But as a veterinarian, I have seen the results from both meatless and meaty pet diets and have come to the conclusion that nature intends for cats and dogs to eat meat.
Cats are obligatory carnivores, and any vegetarian efforts will result in serious harm to the cat. The only reason I use vegetables in a cat diet is to mimic the intestinal contents of their prey animals.
Generally, dogs are omnivores with carnivore tendencies. Vegetarian dogs do survive, but they definitely don’t thrive. What I see in vegetarian dogs is poor bone and muscle development; tendencies to pancreatitis, diabetes, and digestive issues; and generally poorer health, compared to those that eat meat. People who say that their vegetarian dogs do well may not be fully in tune with what true health really looks like.
From a “non-killing” perspective, one solution would be to not have cats or dogs. However, I can’t see a world without cats or dogs being as good as it is with them. One of my spiritual teachers says that karmically, all souls choose their destiny and learning. I do believe that is somehow true, even though I dedicate a portion of my work to teaching people about ethical farming and hopefully making people understand that we humans do not need to eat meat.
My mantra: When unsure, look to nature for advice. I have never seen a dog that prefers grazing in the vegetable garden or a wheat field to eating meat. That said, we can do much better for our pets than regular pet food. With a natural diet, whole-foods-based supplements, and some energy healing, I am confident in saying that animals can live about 25 to 35 percent longer, on average.