This just in from La-La Land: Los Angeles shelter dogs could go vegan

Vegan diets for dogs could become the next big fad, if a proposal before the Los Angeles City Board of Animal Service Commissioners gets passed.

At a November 28 meeting of the Board, commissioner Roger Wolfson, a Hollywood screenwriter and attorney, proposed that all dogs in Los Angeles city animal shelters be switched to plant-based vegan diets.

They call it La-La Land for a reason.

Specifically, Wolfson is proposing that that the meat-based canine diet now being served in all six of the city’s animal shelters be switched to vegan kibble.

The story caught on, in part, because a couple of celebrities jumped on Wolfson’s bandwagon. His supporters include noted celebrity civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom, and musician and animal rights activist Moby (real name: Richard Hall), who told the board, “If we adopt this, it’s one more thing that proves to the world that Los Angeles really is the progressive capital.”

It would certainly reinforce the city’s reputation for setting trends—according to the city’s chief veterinarian, Jeremy Prupas, DVM, it would make the Los Angeles the first city in the nation to feed dogs in its shelter system a vegan diet.

Wolfson’s proposal set off an online firestorm among pet owners and vegetarians, for and against, but mostly against.

Prupas himself came out against the proposal. In a report to the board he wrote, he recommended that the Board “deny the request to feed vegan food to shelter dogs.” Prupas went on to write that he consulted a number of experts, including three clinical nutritionists associated with two different veterinary schools and that, “none of these veterinary specialists thought it would be a good idea to feed shelter dogs a vegan diet.”

Their reasons included concerns about inadequate protein, calcium, and phosphorus levels. Prupas also cited cost as a factor. The current cost to the city for dog food is $0.87 a pound. Prupas wrote that the only currently contracted City vendor that offers a vegan diet dog food would charge $3.87 a pound.

Martha G. Cline, DVM, ACVN, a veterinary clinical nutrition expert on the staff of AAHA-accredited Red Bank Veterinary Hospitals in New Jersey, also expressed concern. She said, “Dogs are omnivores. So technically, a dog can eat a vegan diet and do well on a vegan diet.” But she cautions, “It's not necessarily going to be the best diet for every dog. There's no perfect diet for every dog.” Cline recommends owners consult with a board-certified nutritionist before starting their dog on a vegan diet, especially a vegan diet prepared by hand at home rather than a commercial product.

“I've seen some pretty bad consequences from feeding a dog a home prepared vegan diet.” Cline said, noting that the biggest issue with home prepared vegan diets is that they’re not balanced.

Photo credit (c) iStock/WebSubstance

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