The UK’s Animal Welfare Act has warned dog owners that they should thoroughly check that their pooch’s diet is suitable for their breed, and ‘meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs’, or risk facing a fine of up to £20,000 or nearly a year in jail.

While there is a movement to introduce more plant-based and vegan foods for dogs in an effort to tackle the environmental issues of pet food production, the British Veterinary Association has warned that plant-based diets are now suitable for all dog breeds, and many may find it hard to digest.

The current legislation does not specify what you can and cannot give your dog, but the British Veterinary Association has urged owners to be extremely careful when making changes to their pets’ diets.

Daniella Dos Santos from the association said: “In the UK, under the Animal Welfare Act the owner has the obligation to feed the animal an appropriate diet.

“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.”

She added that it is ‘theoretically possible’ to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it is far easier to get it very wrong than right, and that it would need to be done under the supervision of a veterinary-trained nutritionist.

Dog owners are required by law to ensure that owners do not interfere with their pets’ diets, as well as be required to provide a suitable environment, ensure their exhibit normal behaviour, and are protected from pain, injury and disease, under section nine of the Animal Welfare Act.

This means that owners who fail to ensure their pet’s welfare, which includes a proper diet, could face a fine of up to £20,000 or a jail sentence of up to 51 weeks, and may have their pet taken away and banned from keeping pets in the future.


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