Formula One racing driving Lewis Hamilton recently announced that his bulldog Roscoe is living on a plant-based diet.
The star sadly lost his other dog Coco back in June and because she had showcased many health problems typical of British Bulldogs he then decided to put Roscoe on a vegan diet.
Posting to Instagram Lewis, who follows a plant-based diet himself, wrote: “Hey guys, so Roscoe is now fully vegan. Since he has gone vegan, his coat is much softer, his swollen paws have healed up, he is no longer limping with pain of arthritis and his breathing has opened up.”
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But is veganism really a healthy choice for a dog? We spoke to canine nutrition expert and host of the A Dog’s Life podcast Anna Webb, about her thoughts on the subject.
Anna said: “I don’t believe in dogs going vegan. The main reason is because they are carnivores because they are biologically and physiologically pre-programmed to eat meat, making becoming a vegan a kind of no-go zone.
“Dog are carnivores, meaning their digestive system is physiologically designed to eat meat. Their digestive system is the one thing that is the most different between humans and dogs.”
She went on to explain that dogs have a very short digestive track “which is designed on purpose because it means meat has to be processed really quickly and effectively.”
“Unlike our digestive system, which is a very long digestive track, which is plentiful with this enzyme that breaks down starch called amylase.
“Amylase is actually present in our own saliva, so if we eat a bit of bread it start digesting in our mouth, whereas dogs don’t have any amylase in their system apart from a tiny amount that is secreted from the pancreas.
“This is an important clue to why dog can’t eat food that is plant based which is obviously what the vegan diet is, because dogs are not able to break down the protein and the fat in plants. But dogs are really good at breaking down the protein and the fat in meat.”
Due to these factors Anna explained that she would go so far as to say that feeding your dog a vegan diet “is unethical”.
She added: “Giving them something to eat that they can’t digest is going to mean that over time you will see ill health developing in your dog.
“You know Lewis Hamilton’s dog might be fine for a year, seem in good health, but then bit by bit some itchy skin might start to develop, there might be some ear infections happening due to the extra plant going into their system which tends to encourage yeast infections.
“They might start to get weepy eyes, bit by bit itchy paws, start biting his feet….What you don’t see is the effect at a cellular level.”