Vegan dog food 101 - can dogs be vegan?
Can dogs be vegan?
Veganism has been on the rise for a while not only among people but also among dogs. The number of suppliers of vegan dog food is also rising, so there are probably many among you wondering; can dogs be vegan?
The answer is YES, dogs can live normally on a vegan diet with wet or dry vegan food. But it is worth mentioning that your pet's nutrition has to be taken seriously, and you have to select a proper type of diet with regulated vegan food.
This means that the dog needs to consume enough nutrients daily – protein, amino acids (especially L-carnitine and taurine), vitamins, minerals, and everything else needed to ensure your furry friend's well-being.
Scientific research confirms that vegan nutrition is appropriate for dogs. The findings of three such papers are presented in another post, which you can read here: /3-studies-about-vegan-dogs
We should warn you that before doing any significant change in your dog’s diet, you should consult a veterinarian or other dog expert who can assess your pet’s current health.
We completely understand that your dog’s health is very important to you, and that is why it is good to figure out if a vegan diet is appropriate for your four-legged friend. To help you figure out how to transition to vegan food for your dog, we have provided some tips.
The benefits of a vegan diet for dogs
The same as with people, vegan food with dogs can have certain benefits and bring improvement.
Owners of dogs on vegan food have often noticed the following improvements*:
- reduced allergies,
- improved immune system,
- improved skin conditions and other changes of the dog’s coat,
- reduced chances of arthritis and related conditions,
- bad breath,
- overweight and fat cover,
- and many others
*The claims are not scientifically proven and are based only on account of many satisfied users of vegan dog food around the world.
Potential dangers of vegan dog diet
Although vegan food can be very beneficial for dogs, it can sometimes be dangerous. This happens when vegan food for dogs doesn’t contain all the necessary nutrients our pets need daily.
When buying food, choose the food that contains labels such as “complete food,” “balanced food,” “complete feed,” etc., and that is labelled as food and not as a food supplement.
Only such products contain all the necessary nutrients that a vegan dog requires. Otherwise, you might be feeding the dog with food supplements that can’t replace the food you had before. Be careful to avoid products labelled as “food supplement,” “complementary dog feed,” “snack,” etc.
Home-cooked vegan food for dogs can be dangerous as well.
If you wish to cook vegan food for your dog, we advise you to research nutritional values of the ingredients you are using very carefully, because you can easily and unintentionally leave out essential nutrients that dogs need.
It is thus recommendable to cook only part of your dog’s meal, and the remainder should consist of controlled vegan food (wet or dry). The other option is to include a food supplement with the necessary vitamins and minerals
If you feel capable and want to really dive into the ingredients that your dog needs in his nutrition, we are glad to hear about your enthusiasm and your wish to take a step forward and provide your dog with only the best ingredients ;)
How to feed dogs a vegan diet and keep them healthy
As already mentioned, vegan dog food needs to contain all the necessary nutrients essential for canines.
Besides L-carnitine and taurine, the necessary nutrients include protein (they don’t have to be from animal origin because other vegan ingredients contain more than enough protein) as well as copper, zinc, and many more.
Some ingredients and indicators of proper diet:
- The levels of zinc and other vitamins are evident by the state of the dog’s coat and immune system. We recommend that you choose controlled food with all the necessary ingredients.
- Proper supply of calcium and phosphorus is crucial for healthy bones.
- Iodine affects the thyroid function and needs to be kept at optimal levels.
- The ideal ratio between calcium and phosphorus is 1.3:1.
Even though there are many mixtures on the market, it is interesting that a lot or even the majority of dog owners don’t think about things such as individual ingredients and the nutritional value of regular, meat-based pellets or wet food.
Vegan dog food is more scrutinized because it is still something new and unusual even though its content can often be better and more beneficial for dogs than any other food.
The myths about vegan dog food
Did you know that Bramble, the oldest dog in the world was vegan? He's in the Guinness World Records book for living 27 years.
There are many myths circulating worldwide about vegan dog food, mostly claiming that veganism is an unhealthy or harmful lifestyle. As with other diet types, it is important that each individual has balanced nutrition with all the required nutrients, and dogs are no different.
BELOW WE HAVE GATHERED SOME OF THE MOST COMMON AND INTERESTING MYTHS ABOUT VEGAN DOG FOOD:
- Dogs need meat to survive. This is false – dogs need protein, which they can get in adequate quantities from plant sources.
- The media did a "great job" of portraying dogs and wolves as close relatives, but this does not mean that their needs are the same In over 10,000 years of evolution, dogs’ body changed, and their digestion is more appropriate for meatless nutrition.
- A vegan dog is not a healthy dog. This is huge nonsense. Vegan dogs can be equally or even healthier than their meat-eating counterparts; owners just need to ensure that they choose quality and balanced vegan food. People can eat healthy or unhealthy no matter their diet, and dogs can, too.
- Meat equals protein. The fact is that dogs need proteins to survive, but it is completely irrelevant if those proteins come from meat or other sources such as lentils, beans, peas, or many others.
- Veterinarians believe that vegan dog food is harmful. This is also a myth. The fact is that there are more studies of meat-based dog food, but that does not prove that only such a diet is appropriate. Every veterinarian with an open mind will inspect the ingredients of vegan dog food and only then create an opinion without prejudice. Of course, no food is perfect for everyone, which is why we repeat over and over how crucial it is to monitor your pet’s health.
- Veganism is violence against animals.This is a claim we don’t understand, but it is right that we address it. We simply don’t see how or why veganism could be considered violence against animals. It would sooner be the other way around. With quality and certified vegan dog food, we can ensure dogs have all that they need for a healthy life and not cause suffering to other animals during the production or manufacturing of the food.
- Dogs are carnivores. The European pet food industry (FEDIAF) has stated that dogs are omnivores which can easily survive on meatless but balanced nutrition.
- If you want to know more scientific facts regarding dog digestion and metabolism, you can read an article written by an American expert for plant-based dog food: https://www.plantpowereddog.com/relax-dogs-are-omnivores-not-carnivores/
How to start introducing vegan dog food
The introduction of vegan dog food should not happen overnight because we don’t want to confuse the dog’s stomach too much. All changes to dog food, including the implementation of vegan diet, need to happen gradually.
Mixing vegan food to the existing dog feed
We recommend you start by adding vegan food to your pet’s existing food in the following ratio - ⅓ of vegan to ⅔ of the existing food. In 5 to 10 days, increase the share of vegan food to ⅔ and keep only ⅓ of previous food. In another 5 to 10 days, switch to vegan food completely.
Monitor any possible changes in the dog’s digestion and well-being. If he experiences diarrhoea, the dog might have a more sensitive stomach, and vegan food should be added in smaller quantities, increasing its share 10% and not ⅓ at a time.
Vegan food is appropriate for dogs if you consider all the guidelines ensuring that the dog remains healthy. In case of any doubts, please consult the experts so we can ensure your furry friends have a healthy life.
We are glad you stayed with us until the end of the article. This means that vegan dog food interests you, and we are here to expand your horizons. Be careful to buy only the best and controlled food for your pet.
We have prepared a selection of appropriate vegan dog food and snacks, which you can check HERE
If you have any additional questions, feel free to comment or write to us – we are always here for you ;)