Can Pets Handle the Keto Diet?
With fad diets being made popular by celebrities and Instagram, pet parents may find themselves changing up their eating patterns. And with concerns over pet food recalls and movements towards fresh cooked meals for pets, they may consider having their dog or cat follow a similar diet that could be healthier. However, the Keto Diet, the latest eating craze, seems to have more consequences than benefits for pets.
According to the website for PET | TAO, a company founded by two veterinarians that manufactures holistic pet products, “Ketogenic diets include a high ratio of fat compared with protein and carbohydrates. The high fat content of the diet results in the conversion of fat to ketones – short-chain fats produced by the liver – which the body uses as energy in place of carbohydrates.”
The Keto Diet emphasizes consuming low-carb-foods such as fatty meats, oils and dairy. Many pets are used to high-carb diets because kibble often includes large amounts of carbohydrates. In an interview with People Magazine, veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson of BellaHaven Animal Medical Centre said, “Keto diet is not safe long-term for humans, nor is it safe for pets. It is much healthier for people, as well as pets, to eat a balanced diet with lean meats as protein sources, as well as vegetables, fruits and healthy grains.”
The diet also won’t be as effective for dogs, according to PET | TAO, since dogs are better adapted than humans to long spans between meals and are less likely to burn fat for energy. The diet can also be problematic for pets with diabetes because it can result in hypoglycemia.
However, there are organizations like KetoPet that claim the Keto Diet can help pets with cancer and improve overall health. According to PET | TAO, ketogenic diets have been used to control seizures in humans with epilepsy, but have not been extensively studied in terms of helping pets with the same condition.
Before making any drastic changes in an animal’s diet, pet parents should consult their veterinarian. The growing trend of the humanization of pets does not mean that animals can eat what we eat, especially in the case of the Keto Diet.