UK Dog Owners Could Be Fined Or Sent To Jail If They Put Their Pets On A Vegetarian Diet
British pet owners have been warned against putting their dogs on a vegetarian or vegan diet as it could end up being against the law.
The UK's Animal Welfare Act stipulates that people must ensure their pets get a 'suitable diet' and 'meet all of your dog's nutritional needs'.
The 2006 piece of legislation doesn't mention anything about the specific contents of the food you give to your four legged friend.
However, Daniella Dos Santos from the British Veterinarian Association said people have to be very clued in when thinking about changing what goes into their dog's bowl.
"In the UK, under the Animal Welfare Act the owner has the obligation to feed the animal an appropriate diet," she said.
"If your personal belief system means you don't want to eat any animal protein, that's fine, but that diet is not designed to meet the welfare standards of your pet.
"It is theoretically possible to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it's much easier to get it wrong than to get it right," she continued.
"You would have to do it under the supervision of a veterinary-trained nutritionist."
Dogs can suffer greatly if they don't get their nutritional needs, which is why UK law has a provision to ensure people don't miss with their diets too much.
In addition to protecting what goes in their stomach, owners are also required by law to ensure their pet lives in a suitable environment; exhibits normal behaviour patterns; housed with, or apart from, other animals; be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease, under section nine of the act.
If you're caught breaking the rules then you can face a fine of up to £20,000 or even a jail sentence.
A study released two years ago found an increasing number of owners are putting their pets on a meat-free diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they have to eat meat to survive as they develop serious health conditions if they don't get taurine and vitamins A and B, arginine and arachidonic acid.
In dogs, some breeds struggle with eating a plant-based meal because they find it hard to digest the high-fibre foods.
They have short guts, which mean the food takes longer to extract all the nutrients compared to meat and the animal would have to eat a lot more to make up the difference.
While a vegan diet isn't explicitly forbidden, owners must be sure their dog is getting everything they need.