Now they’ve come for your dog

The Guardian?reports: Quote:

A quarter of the impact of meat production comes from the pet-food industry. Has the time come to change what we feed our dogs and cats?

with humans increasingly demanding human-grade meat for their four-legged family members, pet food is estimated to be responsible?for a quarter of the environmental impacts of meat production?in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuels, phosphates and pesticides. And this trend for raw food is, environmentally speaking, a step backwards.

It is this carbon pawprint that [Holly] Ganz is working to reduce. She has been drafted in to assess the gut-friendliness of a vegan pet-food product launching in the US in July called Wild Earth. Its first offering is a dog treat made from what the blurb calls an ?ancient Asian? fungi called koji. ?We?re hoping,? she says, ?that it will support bacteria that will help to fight inflammation and maintain healthy digestion and nutrition.” End quote.

So, now it looks as if we will have vegan dogs. Quote.

In the meantime, can eco-conscious cats and dogs survive on a vegan diet? ?Cats are obligate carnivores,? says Ganz, which means a lot of what they need comes from meat, ?whereas dogs are more scavengers and have amylase genes so they can digest starch.? But even a scientifically designed vegan or vegetarian diet for dogs, says Ganz, can be difficult to devise. Gudrun Ravetz, the president of the British Veterinary Association, agrees: ?Theoretically, you can feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it?s not something you do lightly and you definitely need to do it with a nutritionist. A lot of what cats need is found in animal protein. It may well be in this fungi, but I?d want to see evidence that these are in the fungi and they?re available to the animal.? End quote.

I cannot see how these specially produced protein pet foods are going to be affordable. Like most things vegan, these products will be very expensive. I suppose that doesn’t matter because the market aimed at is the pet owner who now buys their pet better food or cooks for their pets themselves.? Quote:

There is already a more sustainable source of animal protein out there: insects. While the food industry struggles to make them more appetising to western humans, dogs have no trouble lapping them up. When Haley Russell began experimenting with her own small-scale cricket farm, her discerning goldendoodle, Wren, devoured the insects whenever she got the chance. Russell and the co-founders of Chipper Pet went on to talk to veterinarians, who, she says, ?confirmed that insects are great for dogs. In fact, you get a different mix of amino acids that are really helpful for food variety, which is important for people and great for dogs, too.?

Crickets could serve as a main meal, too, high in iron and omega-3 oils and vitamin B12. ?It?s a complete animal protein, so there isn?t a deficiency, meaning it would be a suitable daily food.? The challenge lies in convincing pet parents that their animal will love it and a treat is merely a way for them to get used to the idea. There is also a supply issue, while edible insect farmers scale up. Again, a cat food will follow because, says Russell, ?cats can be a little bit more finicky?. End quote’.

Maggot flavoured cat food? Cats already often eat insects, although not usually in large quantities. I looked for a photo of a can of flies but was worried that some of you might be reading this at dinner time.

The biggest risk of this, somewhat bizarre development is that all pets are descended from wild animals, quite capable of surviving on their own. If they don’t like the food they are given by humans, they will go off and find something tasty for themselves. This is good if they catch rats, but not so good if they decide to further decimate the bird population. If this is a likely consequence of this new trend, Gareth Morgan will have kittens!

Thing is though that, for all the talk about complete animal protein and dietary requirements, the average dog doesn’t know much about that, and cares even less. If it doesn’t taste good, or at least smell good, then a dog won’t eat it.

Vegans may want to have vegan dogs, but judging by this fella, it may not be that straightforward. All power to the dog.