Dear Dr. John,
I have heard that some vegan and vegetarian people are now feeding their dogs the same diets. Is this safe for the dogs? I also heard that dogs that are not spayed or neutered bark more. This information came from a person who owned a boarding kennel. I want to respect their experience, but it doesn’t seem to make sense to me. J.F.
Social media and the internet provide a great deal of information but misinformation as well. One needs to be judicious in believing what they research or read. I cannot begin to stress how many veterinarians are frustrated by Dr. Google. The crazy thing about information from respected sources is that there are experts that can come down on both sides of any issue.
The vegan and vegetarian issue when it comes to feeding dogs has been around for some time now. Most veterinarians that I am familiar with are not advocates but there are some veterinarians that support such dietary lifestyle. Dogs are omnivorous but technically are carnivores. This is why they have large canine teeth. Dogs need more protein than humans and in the wild primarily survive on hunting and consuming their prey. There are many safe vegetables for dogs to eat such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, and kale. From my perspective though, one should avoid giving their dog an all plant-based diet as it can lead to nutritional deficiencies in protein or vitamins. I counsel against vegan and vegetarian diets for dogs. However, there are articles that suggest that such diets can be used with proper supplementation providing for taurine and L carnitine.
As for your second question, it is true that spayed and neutered dogs have less aggression so some might think it may lead to some reduced barking but I know of many dogs that bark a lot even if spayed or neutered. This is especially true with small dogs like my own. In my opinion, spayed and neutered dogs do not bark less than dogs that are intact. I have even read where altered dogs actually bark more. As you can see, there is information on both sides of these two issues.
Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.
Originally published at www.bostonherald.com