Some animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are herbivores. Others, like hamsters, are omnivorous. Finally, there are also carnivores like cats that cannot survive without meat.
All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. However, this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.
Can my dog have a vegan diet?
If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.
However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?
The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs. Also, a low-fat/high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.
The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by veggie equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.
All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.
Can my cat have a vegan diet?
The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals.
The main challenge with minimizing the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.
Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you will get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.
There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.
For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.
Top 10 pets for vegan households
There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favorites.
1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.
2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.
3. Hamsters. Most hamster owners give them store food, you don’t always know what’s in it. However, hamsters, like rats and mice, can do without meat.
4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivorous. They have sensitive stomachs and need a quality pellet mixture. Too much fresh produce can harm their digestive system.
5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Be careful, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.
7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your vegetable patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!
8. Parakeets and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.
9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.
10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.
This entry was posted in Birds
This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
-Written by Anneliese Paul
At the tender age of one, Peaky is already a retired filmstar. He had lived in a cage his whole life, released only to perform. When Joana and Fergus took him home, he was a fluffy, yellow bundle of nerves. However, they were determined to help Peaky, their cute little canary companion, to come out of his shell.
When Joana met Fergus, she didn’t know she was falling in love with a human and his pet cockatiel. It had been his best friend for 22 years. Together they grew the flock with a mischievous bird. “He was like a dog; he wanted to sleep with us. You could hold him and kiss him!” But tragically, within a short space of time, the cockatiel died of old age, and then the bird became terminally ill. The house fell silent.
Lockdown 1 without birds was quiet and sad for Joana and Fergus. To cheer themselves up, they decided to get their home ready for another bird and after plenty of research, they agreed on the Omlet Geo as the beautiful new bird home. All they needed now was a bird to live with them.
Fergus works in TV, and if anyone offered an animal, Fergus was known to take it. One day a ray of sunshine arrived on set-a bright little canary owned by a person who supplies animals for TV shows. Fergus struck up a conversation with the owner and learned that this little bird had a feisty character and had to be separated from the other birds, which meant he lived alone, probably in a smaller cage. Seeing Fergus’s enthusiasm, the owner asked, “Do you want this one?”
Ecstatic, Fergus called Joana, “We can get a canary!” When the clapper board shut, Fergus drove Peaky home to Edinburgh. Unfortunately, they got stranded en route in a massive snow blizzard and were stuck in the car for hours before being rescued by locals who took them in for the night. The next day, Peaky and Fergus continued their journey home, and when they finally arrived, the house instantly came alive.
Peaky sings beautifully and chirps up when he hears a running tap, the kettle, the hairdryer, and he even provides backing vocals to Joana’s zoom calls. However, unlike their previous birds, he’s a scared soul that feels safer inside his Omlet Geo.
He doesn’t want to come out. Joana understood it would take time to get to know him.
She has a deep empathy with birds and is slowly, patiently, gently, working with Peaky to get him to trust his new human family. When she was younger, she made magazines written from a birds point of view called The Birds Club. Joana is now a professional writer, currently working on a series of children’s novels where birds play the main characters. Peaky even has a little cameo.
He’s getting braver, occasionally eating treats from Joana’s hand, enjoying honey seeds, millet and spinach. Joana makes sure he has space to escape if he’s not comfortable. She doesn’t want him to perform, she just wants to prove to Peaky that he can trust her.
“I’m doing a lot of research to work on rewriting his ideas about us. He came into our lives after being birdless for a year. He has no idea how happy he makes me.”
This entry was posted in Birds
Birds are extremely affectionate pets that love to thrive in a family environment. You don’t need to be a bird expert to keep a small bird under your roof. However, if you want it to thrive and be happy and healthy, there are a few things to consider.
Omlet offers you a list of 5 things to keep in mind when raising a budgie.
1- Consider investing in a cage that respects your pet and its needs
If you decide to adopt a bird, this should be a priority. Make sure you have a cage that meets your bird’s needs and allows it to be happy. A bird needs enough space to stretch its wings and have fun. Make sure the cage is large enough and that it gets enough sunlight. Your bird will need to see light to be able to thrive.
Budgies fly horizontally and do not fly high, so make sure the cage is wide enough.
It is important to choose a cage that is easy to clean, as you will need to spend time keeping your bird’s area clean. This is essential for your bird’s health (and yours). Budgies need to relieve themselves on a regular basis, approximately every 15 minutes, so you need to have easy access to all areas of the cage so that you can clean the entire cage and avoid unpleasant odors and a dirty environment for your little budgie.
You should also consider a cage that can accommodate several birds. Although birds can be kept alone, they do prefer the company of their own kind.
The Omlet solution: The Geo Cage.
The Geo cage complies with current regulations to provide your pet with the space it needs. Its innovative design provides a safe and airy living space for your pet birds. This cage is the result of many years of research to provide your birds with an optimal environment to keep them happy.
This cage not only meets the needs of your birds, but is also functional and can be cleaned quickly and easily. The inside of the cage will be as good as new after your visit. In addition, the Omlet Geo cage offers an exceptional design that allows it to be integrated into any home interior.
The cage is extremely important, as is its location. Remember to place the cage in a room with stable temperatures: not too hot, not too cold. Also avoid rooms that are too noisy with too much traffic and activity. Your birds need peace and quiet. A bright room will make your little bird happy. However, avoid placing the cage too close to windows, as the sun through the glass and the intense heat can be dangerous, or even fatal to your pet.
2- Don’t skimp on accessories
Taking care of your bird is not only about giving it a place to sleep, it is also about allowing it to have fun and discover many things through a variety of accessories. The bathtub is not a trivial accessory: budgies love to stay clean. There are many plastic tubs available that allow your bird to clean itself and feel clean all the time. Choose a bathtub that fits your cage and can easily be installed in it. It should be easy to fill from the outside.
At Omlet, we offer a bathtub that fits our Geo cage and its sloping sides perfectly.
Technique for the bathtub: do not fill it to the brim, as you will find water everywhere. The tub should not be too small to allow your bird to enjoy it fully, but it should not be too large either, so that it does not take up all the space in the cage. If the bathtub you have chosen fits easily into your bird’s cage, you may want to consider adding it for a few hours while your bird takes a bath and removing it the rest of the time.
You should also consider quality drinkers and feeders that will allow you to feed your beloved animals properly and without hindrance.
If your bird can clean itself and stretch its wings, it is likely to thrive and feel happy. However, it is necessary to keep it occupied with toys.
So think about furnishing its space with useful accessories that entertain your budgie. Vary the shapes, sizes and aspects to offer your pet new experiences.
Perches are extremely important for your birds and play a significant part in ensuring a better lifestyle. Choose perches with a wooden base, such as pine, as plastic fails to offer the proper grip that your bird needs, and can be bad for their feet.
Toys have their place in your pet’s cage, but avoid taking up the whole space. It is important to have several types of toys that you can mix up on a weekly basis to give them more variety and keep your bird entertained.
Toys stimulate your pet and prevent your bird from getting bored.
3- A happy bird is a well-fed bird
There are several ways to take care of your bird and the first way is to feed it sufficiently with quality food. What does a bird eat? Your birds’ favorite foods are seeds, vegetables and fruit. Just like other animals, dogs, cats (etc), never give your birds chocolate and caffeine.
It is essential to ensure that the drinker is always full of water to keep your animals properly hydrated. Your birds will know how much water they need but it must be available to them. If the water is not drunk, it is essential that you change it regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.
4- Birds need quality sleep!
Sleep is essential for your bird. It allows your pet to rest its body and recharge its batteries. Just like human beings, sleep helps reduce stress and promotes your pet’s learning and memory. It is estimated that a budgie can sleep between 10 and 12 hours a day. A happy budgie is one that benefits from this rest time in the best conditions.
It usually prepares for bed half an hour before going to sleep. You can improve the sleeping conditions of your bird by providing an opaque blanket, which does not let light in and ensures that your bird gets the rest it deserves. This solution also allows you to soundproof the cage a little if there is regular activity in the room. It is sufficient to keep the room dark and to let a little light through so that your birds are not injured if they hear a noise that wakes them up. The Omlet cover offers your birds an ideal solution for a full and restful night’s sleep. It can be placed on any cage and allows your birds to sleep safely.
Establish a routine each night so that your birds feel comfortable and understand when it is time to go to bed. They will feel confident that there is nothing to worry about and will fall asleep peacefully.
However, if you notice that your bird(s) panic when you put the blanket on the cage, don’t persist. Some birds have their own habits and there is no point in insisting on certain accessories. If your bird is happy and can sleep perfectly and peacefully without a cover, that is the main thing.
5- Give your bird lots of love and get it used to its environment
For a bird to be happy and healthy, nothing is more important than the love you give them in a healthy environment adapted to their needs. Never rush your bird and give it time to adapt to any situation, new environment, new toys or accessories…
Don’t hesitate to talk to your bird and make it feel your presence without smothering it. Repeat its name to get it used to the sound and to assimilate it. If there are several of you in the family environment, introduce the members of your family little by little without rushing your pet. No loud noises or big movements. Your friends or family can enjoy your bird, but in a calm and respectful way.
Treats and time with your pet will make your bird happy. Make sure you spend time with your bird. This will strengthen the bond between you. Gaining your pet’s trust is a long-term process. You can use your fingers to tame your pet little by little, for example by moistening them and placing seeds on them. Intrigued and curious, your bird will surely come to you.
Do not hesitate to open the cage from time to time to let your bird fly in the open air in a room. Just remember to avoid bright lights that may attract your bird and end up hurting it (sunlight through a window, for example). If you decide to let your bird fly in your home, be careful with objects that could either break, or hurt your pet. The room should be secure enough to prevent your budgie from ending up in the vet’s office.
An unhappy bird may become aggressive or develop health problems. This can manifest itself in regular pecking or screaming. Your budgie, if unhappy, may be more agitated than usual. If you are sure that you have done all you can to keep him happy and his aggressive behavior persists or you detect abnormal problems, it is time to make an appointment with the vet. In fact, one visit per year to the vet is recommended to check that everything is going well with your pet.
With all these tips and tricks, your bird can be happy and thrive by your side. All you need is patience and the right equipment and accessories for your pet’s needs.
This entry was posted in Birds