They say dogs take on their owner’s personalities – and in Lewis Hamilton’s case his pet pooch has also adopted his vegan diet.
Lewis recently put his beloved British bulldog on a vegan diet, and ever since Roscoe has had a spring in his step, the F1 ace says. “He doesn’t have any breathing issues now, his throat is no longer restricted, and he doesn’t overheat like he did before. It has changed his life.”
Breathing problems are quite common in British bulldogs due to the breed’s shortened, flattened face. But Lewis, who has been vegan for several years, says since changing his diet, Roscoe (8) is like a puppy again. “It’s been amazing to see these changes in Roscoe and I’m so grateful to be able to share this,” he says.
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This is Roscoe, I’ve had him for 8 years now. He loves to travel, he loves sticks, loves basketball and football. He ate normal dog food all of his life, as well as food with meat in it. His breathing has always been bad, which meant he was never able to walk very far and his joints would hurt. He also had skin allergies. 3 months ago, I decided to transition him to a vegan diet. It has changed his life. He now doesn’t have any breathing issues, his throat is no longer restricted, and he doesn’t overheat like he did before and he loves to run. He also has no allergy issues. He’s like a puppy again! It’s been amazing to see these changes in Roscoe and I’m so grateful to be able to share this. That said, I always recommend consulting with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet to ensure their nutritional needs are being met – which is the most important thing.
However, the Formula One world champion has been criticised for promoting potentially dangerous pet diets as animal nutritionists warn a meat-free diet for dogs can be deficient in vital vitamins.
According to Australian TV veterinarian Dr Scott Miller, a vegan diet could be extremely dangerous for dogs. “Dogs and cats have sharper teeth for catching meat. As much as it makes sense for you to be a vegan, when it comes to our pets it’s going to prove problematic,” he says.
If you do decide to put your pet on a vegan diet, you must ensure they are getting the right balance of amino acids and other nutrients says Dr Ingrid de Wet, senior veterinarian of EberVet Country Animal Clinic in Somerset West in the Western Cape.
“Although dogs can cope with plant-based diets, they are not fully adapted to digesting them. Dogs need a specific balance of amino acids in their diet to ensure optimal health,” she says. “A deficiency in amino acids could cause heart problems. It’s much easier to ensure they have a balanced diet if they are eating a meat-based diet.”
Pet owners should consult with their vets before changing their pets’ diets, she advises.
De Wet says it is important to realise dogs have different nutritional requirements depending on their breeds, ages and sizes. “For example, a large-breed puppy such as a labrador needs to be on a completely different diet to a 12-year-old Yorkshire terrier. And certain medical conditions will require different diets.” For instance, a dog with pancreatitis or arthritis would need a different diet to an otherwise healthy dog.
“It’s important to take your dog for an annual check-up with your vet and discuss your dog’s age and nutritional requirements and they will recommend the correct diet for your dog.”
When it comes to cats, however, vegan diets are a total no-no, she adds. Unlike dogs, who are omnivores, cats are true carnivores and “they require meat-based proteins”, De Wet says.