Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS), a network of six city shelters in L.A., is currently considering a switch to plant-based diets for their 33,000 dogs, a decision that would be the first of its kind. The shelter dogs are currently fed a meat-based diet consisting primarily of animal byproducts (think: cast-aside animal remains deemed "unfit for human consumption"), and concerns about the health, ethical, and environmental impacts of this diet have been brought up by concerned commissioners, veterinarians, and citizens.
In a recent article by The Washington Post, editor Karin Brulliard cites the city’s chief veterinarian, Jeremy Prupas, who opposes the initiative to switch shelter dogs to plant-based. Dr. Prupas claims that a plant-based diet could "deprive dogs of sufficient protein, calcium and phosphorus and that it could be inadequate for injured, pregnant or lactating pups." The article does not provide counter-arguments from any of the involved veterinarians who support and endorse a vegan diet for dogs, many of whom spoke at the past two hearings at City Hall.
The claim that dogs require a "complete and balanced" diet is correct. To avoid deficiencies, any diet should contain proper nutrient levels, including macronutrients such as protein and fat, and micronutrients such as calcium and phosphorus.
Plant-based diets can provide these nutrients to dogs in a complete and balanced form, so nutrient deprivation is not an issue.
In fact, studies show that dogs not only thrive on a plant-based diet, but experience a range of health benefits such as allergy relief, improved digestion, and reduced joint pain, among many others. Vegan dog parents have spoken up to express their support and share their overwhelmingly positive experience with plant-based diets for their dogs.
Learn more about the growing body of research on vegan dogs:
"The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet" - Nature
"Amylase activity is associated with AMY2B copy numbers in dog: implications for dog domestication, diet and diabetes" - Animal Genetics
"An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs." - British Journal of Nutrition
"Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals" - Animals
Over 50 public comment cards were submitted as requests to speak at the December 12 LAAS hearing, and 95% of those who spoke were in favor of the switch to a plant-based diet for dogs, citing their dogs' health turnarounds, perfect blood test results, and other personal experience. Several veterinarians also spoke up, touching on their experience with patients who have thrived on a complete and balanced plant-based formula.
The LAAS initiative is now pending a feasibility study and the city will come to a decision in February.
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