Meet the dog whose owner feeds it a vegan diet
SIMONE Lea knows her story is a bone of contention, but says she has proof that turning her dogs vegan works.
For the past seven years, the Worongary woman has fed her three pooches - Shelpie, Tigga and Squirt - vegan biscuits and broccoli stalks and carrots for treats.
Ms Lea, who believed the meat-free diet was healthier and more humane, turned her furry friends vegan after her previous husky, Squidgy, became sick.
"The vet said she may have brain cancer so it's not worthwhile doing a CT scan (and that) she was coming close to her death.
Changing her diet to Veganpet, a vegan kibble, Ms Lea said within three weeks all of Squidgy's symptoms had disappeared. She lived another two years.
Ms Lea said her dogs, all over eight years of age, ate their vegan dry food every day, but were also given supplements like coconut oil, coconut yoghurt and Augustine Approved powder, a specialised supplement for dogs.
They also chewed on broccoli stalks and carrots to help keep their teeth clean, she said.
"They're doing well, they have blood tests every year," she said.
Michelle Metanoia said she also fed her 4-year-old staffy, Storm, a vegan diet consisting of brown rice, steamed pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots.
He also ate pasta, coconut oil, tahini, peanut butter and other fruit and vegetables for variety.
"He looks better and feels better on the vegan diet," Ms Metanoia, of Burleigh Heads, said.
Owners putting dogs on a vegan diet has got under the collar of vets who cannot agree on depriving canines of meat.
Dr Rich Seymour, from the Vet Collective, said feeding a dog a vegan diet was "absolutely possible".
"I do see a number of vegan dogs," the vet of 10 years said.
The longest he'd been seeing a vegan dog was about seven years: "Anecdotally, they're in really, really good health.
"People like to get on the wolf thing, but domesticated dogs are different to wolves, even 10,000 years ago they were different."
He said dogs could digest starch more effectively than wolves and were also classed as omnivores.
"I'm sure that if you were to give these dogs a steak, they'd eat it," Dr Seymour said.
"Their digestive track is similar to ours, of an omnivore, so yes, they can consume meat, but the question is, do they need to? Can we keep them happy and healthy for a long time? The answer is yes."
But Gold Coast Vet Surgery owner Dr Kevin Cruickshank said he was not convinced.
"My opinion would be that dogs and cats are very different to humans and need meat-based protein," he said.
"Dogs are not strict carnivores, but they mostly eat meat ... they really do need meat in their diet."
He said while he respected his client's decision to feed their dogs a vegan diet, he had found some of them tended to be overweight.
"We have problems, they become obese," he said.
"Their whole metabolism is focused around digesting protein, not carbohydrates. It converts (carbs) to fat."
Veganpet tinned and dry food
1 teaspoon of Augustine Approved powder
Some Melrose flaxseed chunks
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Carrot or broccoli stalk after dinner
Vegan pigs ears
Fruit or vegetables