Can my dog go vegan?

by Emma Sinden
Can my dog go vegan?

Read this blog to know, can your dog go vegan?

If you are an animal lover (and particularly if you are a vegetarian or vegan) you have probably felt a pang of guilt as you dish up meat into your dog’s bowl.  But is it safe for your dog to ‘go veggie’ too? Opinions on this topic divide the dog-loving community down the middle. Vegans berate owners who feed meat as ‘not real animal lovers’. Meat eaters accuse vegans of causing their dogs unnecessary suffering by failing to provide a healthy diet. 

Let’s take a common-sense approach to this hot topic. Below we’ll look at the existing nutritional evidence and some options you might want to consider.


Dogs + Plants = A-OK

Our best friend’s ancestor, the wolf, lives mainly on a diet of meat. They get a mix of nutrients from eating whole animal carcasses. Organs (including stomach contents), skin, bones, fat, muscle and all.  But our canine buddies diverged from wolves many thousands of years ago to join us as companions. As humans developed cereal crops and widespread agriculture, our dogs started eating cereal-based scraps and, over time, they evolved into omnivores. Studies in Nature have shown that domesticated dogs are much better at digesting starch-based foods than their wolf cousins.


Does a vegan dog get all ‘essential’ nutrients?

Dogs need a diet that includes protein and fats to remain healthy.

Protein is found in meat and dairy products as well as plant sources like peas and lentils. It’s made up of amino acids, the ‘building blocks’ of the body. 10 of these amino acids cannot be made by your dog’s body and need to be consumed. They are the ‘essential amino acids’.

Fat sources

Fats come from animals or seed oils such as sunflower. They are made up of smaller units called fatty acids. Just like amino acids, your dog’s body can produce some fatty acids but not others. These ‘essential fatty acids’ have to come from external sources. 

Because essential amino acids and fatty acids are so important, The AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) demand that levels of each are measured in dog foods before they can be sold as ‘nutritionally complete’. Vegan dog foods have to prove that plant-based sources can provide all 10 essential amino acids and essential fatty acids.


Here are a few of our recommended vegan dog brands:

V-Dog

V-Dog is based in the US and they’ve been producing complete, balanced vegan dog food since 2005. They are confident that their diets are healthy in the long term for dogs. ‘We’ve seen amazing results with our kibble in dogs of all shapes and sizes since 2005 without any issues of deficiency.’ Outside of the US, the V-Dog range is available as V-Planet.


Wild Earth

American pet food company Wild Earth is on a mission to ‘get the junk our of pet’s food’. Their Clean Protein Formula contains an impressive 31% protein.  It’s based on fungi and is 100% nutritionally complete.


VeganPet 

This Australian pet food brand is another nutritionally complete option for dogs and cats. Their formula meets or exceeds those important AAFCO nutritional requirements.


Benefo

If you are in the UK, check out Benefo’s range of ‘animal friendly animal foods’. Their diets are all carefully balanced and nutritionally complete.

 

Are vegan dogs doing ok?

Vegan diets for dogs are still quite a recent innovation and long term studies have not been completed. Having said that, anecdotal evidence suggests that many dogs do great on a vegan diet.

Also, One famous Border Collie in the UK called Bramble lived to 25 years of age on a vegan diet (that’s an incredible 189 dog years!).


Beware the dangers of DIY

As we have seen, there are many essential nutrients your dog needs that have traditionally been provided by meat. To create a healthy vegan diet for your dog at home, you are going to have to find plant sources for all the essential amino acids and fatty acids. Dogs also need a precise balance of vitamins and minerals in their diet.  Unless you are a nutritional pro it’s best to leave the creation of these formulas to the experts.


So, what’s the final verdict? Can my dog go vegan?

The answer is yes, but with the proviso that, as a responsble pet owner,  you need to do your research. Make sure the food brand you choose is designed to include sources for ALL the essential nutrients your dog needs and don’t be tempted to DIY unless you have a degree in canine nutrition. 

Finally, another awesome benefit of switching your dog to a vegan diet is that it’s better for the planet. It’s estimated that a ¼ of all meat production is for the pet food industry. Switching to a vegan diet will help reduce your dog’s carbon pawprint.  

Also, What do you think? Would you consider switching your dog to a vegan diet? Are you feeding one already?  Let us know in the comments.

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