Our dogs deserve the best care. However, many dog owners are in a dilemma when faced with this question: can dogs be vegan? Veganism is one of the growing trends among dog owners and pet food companies. The University of Guelph’s Veterinary College surveyed 3,673 dog and cat owners worldwide and found that a whopping 35% of people wanted their pets to switch to a vegan diet.
We quickly assume that whatever is healthy for us must also be healthy for our pets. A vegan diet is undoubtedly a healthy option for humans, but applying this plant-based lifestyle to our dogs can be a challenging feat. While many pet lovers practice this globally, the effects of veganism on a dog’s health are not yet conclusive.
This article will answer your questions if dogs can go vegan and why it may be a good idea!
Can Dogs Be Vegan?
Yes, they can! Veganism is a way of life, which excludes all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Simply put, veganism eliminates meat and other animal-related foods from your dog’s diet.
Dogs originate from the wolf species, so it’s easy to label them as carnivores. However, even wolves consume berries, eggs, and even grass as a supplement to deficient vitamins.
Over time, dogs have adapted to a diet consisting of less meat and more plant starch. This is good news, considering that they carry amylase genes to digest plant starch. A 2013 study by Swedish researchers showed that domesticated dogs have higher amounts of code to produce amylase. These higher amounts of amylase mean that the dog is almost five times better at digesting plant starch than wolves.
Compared to carnivorous cats, dogs have different digestive and metabolic traits, classifying them as omnivores. As such, dogs can endure a meat-free diet because they can still derive nutrients from fruits and vegetables. Dogs usually embrace whatever food is available on the table or placed in front of them. If you are a dog owner, you might know this already, which is one of the main reasons they are called “opportunivores.”
However, since every dog breed has unique anatomy and metabolism, it may be better to first consult a veterinarian!
Can Dogs Survive Without Meat?
Even though dogs are classified under the order Carnivora, they are omnivorous creatures. Being an omnivore implies that dogs can survive on both meat and plants and, in some cases, just plants. Their bodies can even transform amino acids even when avoiding meat.
Protein is the key component in meat, which the dog needs. Luckily, dogs can still absorb protein from plant-based sources.
A 2016 study conducted a comparative study on a vegetarian diet versus a meat-based diet for dogs and cats. This study showed that dogs can still thrive on a carefully designed vegetarian diet if it meets the nutritional requirements. The keyword here is “carefully designed.” A vegan diet must be crafted by an experienced veterinary nutritionist based on your dog’s needs.
On one famous occasion, a Border Collie named Bramble lived over 25 years old, equivalent to 189 human years, solely on a vegan diet! While there is no in-depth study made on the relationship between the dog’s organic diet and its longevity, you can’t help but be amazed at this awesome feat.
Why Do Dogs Go Vegan?
Doctors don’t prescribe medicine to a healthy person. In the same way, dogs do not need to go vegan under normal circumstances, but there are several reasons this happens.
When The Dog Owner Is Vegan
Unlike us, dogs do not have the liberty to choose the food they want or need. As part of their vegan advocacy, some owners implement it as part of their dog’s diet.
In 2019, a study on vegan respondents showed that 30% of them fed their pets with a vegan diet. If the U.S. has 30 million vegans, it means that 6 million people are applying vegan food to their furry pets.
If you are determined to implement a vegan diet on your dog for ethical reasons, then talk to a vet first so they can advise you of the proper vegan food.
When The Dog Has Allergies
Some dogs have allergic reactions to certain animal proteins, so it’s best to remove them from their daily diet. Fortunately, specific vegan food alternatives carry the same essential nutrients, making them excellent substitutes for the excluded animal proteins.
According to former U.S. Human Society president Dr. Michael Fox, some dogs can adapt to a vegan diet, but the best approach is to give them a well-rounded, balanced meal that includes animal fats and protein.
When The Dog Needs to Lose Weight
According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health Report in 2017, 1 out of every 3 dogs is obese. The study also showed that obesity could pose serious health problems to dogs because it is linked to certain disease conditions.
Some health conditions that can result from obesity include heart disease, joint issues, bladder stones, high blood pressure, and more. Because of leaner and junk-free food, a vegan diet can help your dog lose weight and improve its quality of life.
Is It Healthy for Dogs to Be Vegan?
There is no solid evidence showing that vegan or plant-based diets for dogs are healthier than the normal mixed diet. A few studies suggest that dogs with a long-term vegan diet displayed great health on the brighter side.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) surveyed 300 dogs on either vegetarian or vegan diets. Of the 300, 104 were vegetarian, while the remaining 196 were vegan. The overall results found that over 80% of the dogs had good to excellent health.
In 2019, a team experimented on Siberian Huskies by giving them a meat-free diet and having them run sprint races. Results showed that all dogs maintained an excellent health condition, and none developed any health problems.
Because of limited studies, we cannot be certain of veganism’s impact on your dog’s health. The best approach is to consult a veterinarian who is also well-versed in veganism and diets. By assessing your dog’s nutritional requirements, an expert can create a vegan diet and observe if it is effective for your dog.
Is It Okay To Mix Vegan & Meat Friendly Diets?
Not only is it okay, but many vets highly recommend it!
Fruits and vegetables make up many dog food diets today, aside from the basic meat and grain ingredients. A balanced combination of these elements keeps your dog healthy and in good shape.
Many dog owners also like to provide fresh produce as vegan snacks for their pets. As a standard rule of thumb, your treats should only form 10% or less of your pet’s daily caloric intake. The following foods contain important vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which can all help your beloved dog stay healthy and fit:
- Apples – Apples are rich in vitamins A, C, and fiber, which keep the dog’s skin healthy.
- Oranges – Oranges are abundant in vitamin C. Make sure to peel the skin off and remove the seeds!
- Carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, green beans – These contain many vitamins and minerals beneficial for the dog’s muscles and nerves.
Foods to Avoid
The following foods can be healthy for humans, but you might want to steer clear of them for your dogs. Avoid giving your dog the following fruits and vegetables:
- Grapes and raisins – These are considered toxic to dogs and can affect their kidneys.
- Avocados – Avocados are okay in small amounts, but they contain persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Wild mushrooms – Grocery-bought mushrooms are generally safe but avoid feeding wild mushrooms to your dogs because they may be very toxic.
- Onions and garlic – Limit these to smaller amounts as they might cause stomach pains, diarrhea, or nausea.
Considering the lack of proof that a vegan diet is a better choice, a well-balanced mix of vegan and meat-friendly food is generally the best choice for dogs. If you’re planning a vegan diet for your dog in the future, then a mixed diet could be a great transition. Start the change by slowly inserting vegan food into your dog’s everyday diet.
Make gradual reductions of its existing food until only the vegan food remains. Track your dog’s diet and health to observe if it encounters any gastrointestinal or skin problems. If none occur and your dog seems to be in excellent health, it means your dog is responding well to their new diet.
Best Snacks for Vegan Dogs
There are many yummy vegan treats for your beloved pet. Browse through the list below for the top vegan diet options today:
Healthy Petables CBD Dog Treats + Heart & Immune Care – CBD is the key ingredient of this tasty vegan dog treat. With 100% natural and organic ingredients, this blueberry and sweet potato-flavored treat can help strengthen your dog’s heart and immune system. It’s also made with flaxseed, hemp seed powder, rolled oats, and brown rice flour for an even bigger health boost for your dog.
Healthy Petables CBD Dog Treats + Joint & Mobility Care – Your dog’s joints are important for mobility, but as they age, joint problems may occur. HolistaPet CBD Dog Treats for Joint & Mobility are empowered with turmeric root and boswellia to enhance joint strength and relieve joint-related issues. Also made in delicious pumpkin spice and cinnamon flavor, your dog is sure to jump at the chance to eat this vegan treat!
Healthy Petables CBD Soft Calming Chews for Dogs – If your dog is in a manic frenzy or displaying uncontrollable behavior, then these soft chews are a must-try. Packed with CBD, tryptophan, peanut butter, and chamomile, this vegan treat seeks to calm your dog’s mood and decrease their hyperactivity.
If you are not into commercial vegan snacks, you can opt for the following accessible vegetarian and vegan foods:
Final Thoughts – Can Dogs Be Vegan
So can dogs be vegan? That’s a big yes! Dogs can thrive on a vegan diet, but the decision to switch to it is entirely up to you. Before letting your dog jump into a vegan diet, let an experienced pet nutritionist assess their nutritional requirements first.
Afterward, determine if a specific vegan diet will meet the requirements or if it needs to be complemented with a meat-friendly diet. Once the appropriate diet is identified, gradually adjust your dog’s diet and monitor the effects closely. Vegan or not, your dog’s welfare should always come first!