My dog is a vegan dog and has been for a couple of years now.
That’s him—his name is Nacho. He is happy and healthy and incredibly dignified and my vet thinks so too.
Is it safe?
It is a common misconception that dogs need meat to survive. This is because they are thought of as carnivores. Dogs are in fact omnivores, just like humans, and because they have been evolving alongside us as ‘man’s best friend’ for so many years, their dietary needs are very similar to ours.
Not only can dogs survive on a vegan diet but it can actually improve their health. Many hypoallergenic dog foods are vegan. One of the most common allergies for dogs is an allergy to animal proteins, which can cause nasty, itchy skin conditions. Owners of such dogs have noticed huge improvements in their dogs’ health from switching them to a vegan diet.
So dogs can thrive on a vegan diet, but it’s important to do it right. Here’s how:
How to do vegan dog food right
There are lots of case studies of healthy, happy dogs on vegan diets since the 70s. These are lovely stories to read about very well-loved, and well-looked after dogs. However, not all of us have the time to make our dogs meals every day from homegrown vegetables, brown rice, and nutritional yeast. And even if we did, it would be incredibly difficult to get the balance right without being a full-on dog nutritionist. Luckily for us normal people though, there are much easier ways to go about providing a healthy vegan diet for your dog.
When looking for vegan dog food the key is to make sure it is described as ‘nutritionally complete.’ This means that this one food source will give them all the nutrition they need to be their best selves.
V-dog is one of the most popular brands of vegan dog food, particularly in the US. One of the most popular brands in the UK is Benevo. I tend to use a mix of Benevo and Ami.
I highly recommend the website Veggie Pets as a marketplace for vegan dog food (as well as cat food). They ship worldwide and they have many different options including the brands listed above.
To find the best food for your dog, the best method is to try a few and see what they respond best to. If you would like a few more pointers however, certapet.com outlines their top 5 here.
Another question that tends to arise when it comes to veganism for dogs is whether or not it’s ethical?
Is it cruel?
The three main concerns I address here are:
- They won’t get the nutrition they need to thrive
- It’s not natural
- It’s not their choice
We’ve pretty much covered number one already. Dogs can thrive on a vegan diet so long as it’s done correctly.
Number two I would answer by saying that the only ‘natural’ way to feed your dog would be to send them out hunting on their own and even then they would likely be unsuccessful because, due to selective breeding, they are genetically so far from the predators they once were. Just look at Nacho:
There is nothing natural about the meat-based foods dogs eat anyway—so what’s the difference?
Finally, for number 3, the way I see it, you are choosing what your dog eats regardless. I don’t know any dogs that go to the shops themselves or order themselves a Deliveroo. Whether their food is plant-based or meat-based, the way to find a food they enjoy is simply trial and error. I find Nacho tends to get more excited by wet food than dry food, so I’ll usually put a bit of wet food on top of his biscuit to make things more delicious. It’s also good to just change things up sometimes. Nobody likes eating the same dry nutritional pellets every single day.
I like to keep nacho’s diet fresh by giving him little snacks and homemade treats or tidbits from what I’m eating. Watch out for things you can’t feed dogs—chocolate, onion, grapes, etc. You can see a full list of foods that are toxic to your dog here. Rather than trying to remember that whole list however, if I’m ever unsure I’ll just give whatever it is a quick google before feeding it to him. There are all sorts of recipes online for vegan dog treats. Look up what’s good for them and get creative!
It’s really easy to have a healthy, happy, vegan dog. Just do your research first!
Get more like this–sign up for our newsletter for exclusive inspirational content!
Photo: Kitty Bertenshaw