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Vegan Dogs!?
Feeding Hazel a plant-based diet

My dog Hazel is vegan. Most likely, your eyes just rolled or your heart stopped beating. You probably understand and respect my choice to be vegan but really, do I have to drag my dog into this? Well, here’s the thing: Dogs, unlike cats, are not obligate carnivores. They’re not dependent on meat-specific protein, and can easily digest the majority of vegetables and grains. That, combined with the fact that I don’t support horrific factory farming, means feeding my dog a veggie diet is the only way to go. Plus, did you know that Bramble, a 27-year-old vegan Border Collie, was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living dog? Veggie Power!

Brief tangent: A 27-year-old Border Collie is probably like, the smartest dog ever. I mean, Border Collies are already ridiculously intelligent, and then combined with the knowledge of the ages? Bramble is basically Doggie Yoda.

There are lots of vegan dog foods on the market. Regardless of the brand you choose, look for taurine and l-carnitine in the list of ingredients; these amino acids are crucial for keeping your dog’s heart healthy and strong. If you’re super industrious or have lots of free time courtesy of this fantastic job market, you might want to make your own food. I did this a few times last year and my kitchen still hasn’t fully recovered.

That said, I have faith in you. There are lots of recipes online, and my personal favorite is available via Asians for Humans, Animals, and Nature (warning, it’s a PDF). If you’re going this route, I highly recommend adding a vitamin- and mineral-rich supplement, such as VegePet

As for Hazel, she eats V-Dog. She absolutely loves it. Seriously, you’ve never seen a dog go this nuts for dinner. That might be just because she loves food; our walks are often spent playing tug-of-war with some delicacy she found in a gutter. But really, she devours her bowl in 10 seconds flat, and then begs for more. Hazel’s been vegan for about three years and her vet consistently remarks on her good health. Her coat is shiny, her weight is perfect, and her breath isn’t super stinky. I mean, it’s still kind-of stinky, she IS a dog.

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Guest blogger Laura Beck is a founding editor of Vegansaurus.com, community manager at VegWeb.com, columnist for VegNews Magazine, and vice president of Rocket Dog Rescue. She lives in Oakland with her cartoonist boyfriend and adorable Pit Bull. Vegansaurus.com

 

Photo by Lucia Oberste.

 

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Chelsea | November 16 2010 |

Thanks for this article! I've been a vegetarian for the last fourteen years and have recently decided to take the plunge and go vegan. I was unsure about whether or not I should switch to vegan food and treats for my two dogs and this article really helped!

Submitted by V | November 16 2010 |

Another thing to add is alpha-lipoic acid. Even if you get kibble that says it contains taurine and l-carnitine, it's still good to supplement because the processing of the food greatly diminish the nutritional value. In fact, even meat-based processed food should be supplemented with at least those three things for the same reason. I like to use VegeDog plus human supplements in the right dose for dogs. I trust something created for people more.

Submitted by Kayla | November 18 2010 |

You're right. Dogs do not "need" meat to survive. One of the things that's kept the species alive and around for so long is their ability to evolve and live off of anything. However, I strongly disagree with your choice to make your pet carnivore vegan. Whether they can digest other foods or not, it doesn't meant that they should, or that they'll be the healthiest they can be doing it. Whether you like to think otherwise, dogs were meant to eat meat. Your third-grade self could take one look at their teeth and know that. So, while dogs can survive on nearly anything, they'll only truly thrive on a meat-based diet. That's just plain simple fact.

Submitted by KT | November 18 2010 |

I checked out the ingredients in V-Dog and, as with other vegan dog food/treats, and the first is wheat. Many, many dogs have gastrointestinal problems and inflammation when they ingest wheat. Sounds like she and you are content with your diet, but it just isn't a good solution for most.

Submitted by Bridget Pilloud | November 21 2010 |

Factory farming is horrifying, and there are probably dogs that do well on a vegan diet.
I'm wondering though, if you're really into your dog's well-being, why is she wearing a prong collar? A prong collar, even used gently, can cause aggression in dogs.
My pittie wears a harness when she's out and about.
If you care about the humanity of animals, please don't use a prong collar on your dog.

Submitted by Cindy | June 25 2014 |

I've tried to look at the prong collar issue logically. First, when I take my dogs for a walk, I want them to have a happy experience. I don't make my dogs "heel", despite what behaviorists say - I let them stop, sniff and charge ahead if they want...while on the leash ofcourse. After about 10 minutes of this they settle down and are ready to run or walk with me. But there are times when I have to pull them back tightly to avoid confrontation with another dog and use a harness to avoid stress to the neck.

After watching a training video on using prong collars, I see that it has to fit properly, must be used toward the top of the neck, and then used properly when walking the dog. How many people are going to follow the instructions..or even educate themselves on proper use and also use it properly..every time?
And I pity the dog who has one on in the hands of an impatient or frustrated owner.

I do not believe prong collars are in the dogs best interest.

Submitted by Anna Bettina | November 22 2010 |

I agree with you on the horrific process of factory farming, I myself am a vegetarian. Although I disagree with what you have written, I respect your decision to try and do what you believe it best for your dog. And yet, you've put so much thought & consideration into her diet and, what seems like, little into her mental well-being. This picture shows a stressed out dog (her eyes & ears are a dead giveaway) and also shows her pictured in a prong collar- a device when used properly, should cause pain to the animal. There are many resources available to help you find a trainer who uses more humane methods! You can try http://trulydogfriendly.com for starters.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 17 2012 |

Pronged collars are not inhumane unless the person controlling it doesn't know how to use it properly... much in the same way a pencil isn't a torture device unless you jab it into someones side. A pronged collar is designed to alter a behavior in the same way that a mother would correct her pups - by biting and releasing. -- and the dogs appearance is very similar to my dogs appearance after we have just finished jogging. Tuckered out, not stressed.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 19 2011 |

Dogs are actually incapable of breaking down the cell walls in plant matter themselves. I myself am a vegan, but my dog eats a Prey Model Raw diet (80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 10% organ (5% liver)); I feed her like a carnivore because that's how carnivores do best.

Submitted by Billy | February 19 2012 |

Actually, dogs are omnivores, or as my vet advised: not obligate carnivores. My dogs have been healthy and happy on a vegan, homecooked diet for the past 10 or so years. I've known other dogs who have lived a good quality of life until a ripe old age, as well as several dogs, who'd only been given a few months to live on prescription food and totally blossomed on a healthy vegan diet, and subsequently defied everyone's expectations by adding a few years to their life expectancy. This is not me talking vegan ideology, these are examples of my own experience.
Please do some research, feeding a dog a diet with that high a meat content could be seriously damaging. Raw food is only meant to be about 40% muscle meat max.

Submitted by Jacoby | July 3 2014 |

Actually meat is supposed to be 60-90% of a dogs diets and the rest veggie herbs eggs etc. I study dog nutrition quite closely and have always been told this,

Submitted by Fallopia Tuba | November 27 2011 |

I wish these people saying "dogs are 'meant' to eat meat" would read Obligate Carnivore: Cats, Dogs and What It Really Means To Be Vegan. As a matter of fact, a dog can thrive on an appropriately-supplemented vegetarian diet; my dog is far healthier than when I first got him and he had crusty eyes and stinky breath.

My dog is a vegan, as are my two cats; they are all healthy. One unexpected bonus of a vegetarian diet for dogs is that they develop a new interest in vegetables!

Submitted by stacythetrainer | June 17 2012 |

Actually I don't agree with feeding a dog vegan as they are carnivores that can tolerate plants but they are not designed to eat or digest plant matter.

But to the person who said they made their cat vegan--that's plain abusive as cats are in fact obligate carnivores. An obligate carnivore is an animal that by its genetic makeup must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive. Obligate carnivores may eat other foods, such as vegetables, grains, or fruit, but they must eat meat as the main source of their nutrients. So you will cause many health issues at some point by never feeding your cat meat of some type. Very sad.

Here are some facts from an animal nutritionist on why this is a bad choice for dogs. http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/vegetarian-diet/

Submitted by Anonymous | August 24 2012 |

Have you not understood that the guinness book of records have a VEGGIE DOG as the oldest one? Why not bring change? Why do you have to stick with the old that must continue with the killing of animals ... Maybe dogs are the first animals that are going to show the animal race that going vegan is healthy...just as the Tigers in Thailand continue to live a healthy life eating their veggies. By all means give them the supplements/amino acids intake - that is why we humans are considered to be super smart ... making discoveries, changing ways, changing habits, patterns ... within us and the world around us ... think of Paradise/Eden returning ... that was what was foretold and shall come to pass...this is just the start of a brand new cycle of thoughts, patterns, habits that register and promote compassion for all living beings...and it is the humans as leaders/protectors to begin themselves and help their animal friends along the journey.

Submitted by dogdaze | January 30 2013 |

There are 400 million dogs in the world and you are going to base your argument on 1 dog, which by the way would mean that your dog has a 2.5 x 10 -9 chance of having the same amazing genes to live a life as long as that one Border Collie. Not very good odds and very poor logic.

Submitted by Cooper's Mommy | November 1 2013 |

I have yet to find any EBP that supports feeding your dog or cat a vegan diet. Dogs can digest some of the plant based proteins but they are not able to use them as well as humans. Just basing your case on one dog is like me saying that smoking is healthy because a person who lived past 100 smoked a pack a day. I have found information with some strong supporting evidence that says a vegetarian diet for some dogs with medical problems can be beneficial when eating a doctor prescribed diet, however cutting out all animal proteins from your dogs diet can have some serous negative consequences for your dogs health.

Submitted by Jules | December 1 2011 |

Feeding a dog a plant-based diet is ABSOLUTELY NOT the only alternative to supporting factory farming. I hope since press time the author has educated herself on pastured meats and sustainable farms. Just because a dog can survive on grains and vegetables does not mean it is a species-appropriate diet. "Tolerated" does not equal "optimal." I hope Hazel is happy and healthy, but please don't delude yourself into thinking you are doing her any favors by forcing her to be a vegan.

Submitted by frod | December 8 2011 |

A vegan diet is a choice. An animal pet or as vegans call them "animal companions" can't make that choice. It is very hypocritical of vegans to exploit the animal's inability to feed itself in this domestic urbanized setting for their personal satisfaction of having a "vegan" pet/animal companion. Either feed the animal what it would eat if it wasn't your pet to begin with or don't get a naturally meat-eating pet at all.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 19 2012 |

Have you got a dog, frod? If so, do you take him or her to the supermarket or pet shop every other day and let them choose what they want to eat? Somehow I doubt it. Feeding a dog meat and choosing what brand they will eat in canned or dry form, day in day out, for the rest of their lives, is no more controlling than giving them a vegan diet. And even if you feed them raw or cook for them every day, as I do, you are still the one who controls what they are eating, like you control where they are living, when they're going out, where they are going out, etc etc. Dogs care about one thing and one thing only: whether or not it is tasty. What's in it and whether it is good for them is a matter of your concern, not theirs. My 2 dogs are both vegan and, like I said, I cook for them almost every day (sometimes I make a meal for a couple of days), and they're hovering round the kitchen while I cook, I end up with spotlessly-licked-clean bowls every night, and my guys are both physically and mentally very healthy. I wish people would check their preconceptions with reality a bit more ....

Submitted by Paul | April 20 2012 |

He simply stated it was hypocritical for those who believe in animal rights to force their dietary beliefs on their animals who do not have a choice but to eat whatever you put in front of them. Unless of course they want to starve. You seem smart, so you can follow that logic and see the hypocrisy can't you? Now, if you vegans believe in animal rights so strongly, how about instead of forcing a vegan diet on them you let them choose? Put a meat dish out and a vegan dish out and see which one the dog goes for first. I guarantee they go for the meat dish first, being that a dog is a natural carnivore. Vegans are some of the most ignorant people on the planet. Its posts like "vegan dogs" that prove this and do NOTHING to help your cause, because any sane minded person on the planet can see how hypocritical you are if you support this.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 15 2012 |

You do realize that it follows from your argument that you should let your dog do whatever he wants, don't you?

Submitted by Anonymous | July 21 2012 |

No, because in the wild they couldn't, either. In the wild they wouldn't have fresh cuts of meat laid out lavishly in front of them cut into perfect portions. Actually, a wild dog's diet consists largely of plant foods, because there is no guarantee they'll catch something or when they'll catch it. That's the point of meat in the wild - it's a very dense food, because it doesn't get eaten every day at 5pm on the dot. It's unpredictable and a useful storage food as a result.
In this wonderful day and age where we've taken our pets out of their natural habitat, therefore not allowing them to hunt and forage as they would have thousands of years ago, we decide what they will eat. Giving them 'whatever they want' will obviously mean they will go for rump steak, served blue and salted, preferably 5 times a day, which would be incredibly bad for them as they're not supposed to eat that way. As a side note (funnily enough) in the wild, they don't catch cows, either. Would you give a kid 'whatever they want'? They'll go for fries and sweets and burgers and thickshakes. Good parenting!
So you give your dog, like your kid, what will keep them healthy. And if it so happens that this dog's health has improved with a vegan diet, then that is some mighty fine parenting.

Submitted by Chris | January 16 2014 |

wild dogs will spend hours hunting down prey when they could choose the easier alternative - plants that don't run away.

dogs hunt meat because dogs need meat.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 18 2012 |

Its funny to me that you are expressing such great concern for this dog (being vegan) and no concern for the hundreds of animals that will not be tortured and killed because of her cruelty-free diet.

Submitted by Michelina | July 24 2012 |

FYI Paul, dogs are not naturally carnivores...they are omnivores. They wouldn't simply live on meat in the wild, but fruits and veggies as well. Also, I am assuming you are a meat eater...do you offer your dog a meat based dish and a vegan dish to choose from? I know most meat eaters don't do that. And where did anyone say that they would let their dogs starve if they didn't like a vegan diet? Forcing beliefs on their dog?...well if you saw living proof and knew of scientific proof that people as well as dogs lived healthier on a vegan diet...wouldn't you want what was best for your pet?! And as a former meat eater I can say that vegans are not the ignorant ones. All of my former pets have had cancer and were fed what was considered the best dog foods on the market...and they developed cancer. We always took good care of them and took them to the vet regularly. My current dog is an 8 year old vegan and so far she is very healthy. I suggest you open your mind just a little and do some research on vegan diets...for people and dogs alike.

Submitted by Cindy | June 12 2014 |

Responding to the idea that because a dog will choose meat over the vegan food proves what's best for them.
Well, if you put a bowl of ice cream and a plate of healthy food in front of a child (or a dog), guess which they'll choose? This is an irrational argument.
My dogs love their vegetarian meals, have lost their excess weight, are way more energetic and the vet is thrilled at their new level of health. Most dogs are not given the opportunity to choose their own food and most are forced to eat the same dry food day in and day out. What I have "forced" on my dogs is a variety of delicious home made meals that are fresh and organic.

Submitted by Rob T | February 19 2012 |

My dog has been on V-dog vegan dog food since we adopted her a year and a half ago. She is living proof that the "facts" purported by some of the other comment-writers are not facts at all. Not a walk goes by that someone does not stop me to compliment her physical fitness, health, and personality. Every now and then passersby insist on taking her photo, and motorists have actually pulled over to stop and chat about her. When a dog stops people in their tracks, even the haters have to admit that the vegan dog diet must be at least OK. As for allergies, with dogs as with humans, food allergies can't really be pinned on one or even a few specific ingredients when so many factors mix together to influence our individual health. I was on asthma meds for "moderate to severe" asthma for years and about ready to go on medication due to disabling joint pain. I changed my own diet from heavily carnivore to vegetarian and then vegan, and the asthma episodes and pains vanished. It's not magic; the chemical make-up of animal-derived foods is prone to cause inflammation and other reactions.

Submitted by Angela | April 8 2012 |

Hi, I'm not rolling my eyes at your choice to feed your dog a vegan diet.

I am puzzled though, that you appear to have put thought and compassion into what you feed your dog, yet then choose to put a prong collar around her neck :-( I really hope you will reconsider using this on your beautiful dog and look for a kinder alternative.

Angela

Submitted by Nikki | June 3 2012 |

Wow Laura, I bet you didn't expect to get so many opinions from people- and from the pronged colar no less. I have a pit-mix and all I see your dog doing is smiling really big!! Laura is right- if you know how to properly use a pronged collar there is no harm. Pits are stubborn breeds with a lot of strength so pronged collars can provide extra "precautionary" back up when controlling your dog in public. All it takes is a squirrel and the dog can escape the grip of the leash so a collar is a way to remind your dog not to bolt after things (or into traffic). Yes, training helps too. But anyway- back to the VEGAN subject- the reason I googled and found this article in the first place. My husband and I love the taste of meat. We never thought we would be exploring veganism...but here we are. We are educating ourselves with diverse resources and are horrified with what is occurring in our food system. I am in culinary school so I get tons of info and education from the beef, pork, poultry industry and also from my meat eating instructors. So that's one side. On the other side I have read In Defense of Food, watched Food Inc, Forks Over Knives, Blue Gold, Tapped, and Vegucated, Fresh, and other documentaries. Vegucated made me cry.
I haven't read enough about vegan diets for dogs to make my decision, so any links would be appreciated... however I like what you have said and I will consider this option for my own dog.

Submitted by Adriano Janezic | August 20 2012 |

A vegetarian for more than 20 years for ethical reasons opposing factory farms nightmare but...forcing a carnivorous dog or a cat to eat only plant based diet is a plain animal abuse and unbelievable selfishness when human philosophical beliefs go straightforward against the nature.Yes,it's a paradox,isn't it,l fed my little dog with meat for 18 years,and buying a meat can always made me feel guilty of supporting the same industry l was opposing to.l was aware of that painfull truth yet couldn't escape it.l couldn't because l didn't have the slightest intention to force my dog with plants if her digestive system was designed to eat meat.Dogs are wolfs' ''cousins'' and l've never seen a vegan wolf in nature and l'm sure l never will.Seeing a vegan or vegetarian loudly opposing meat industry,including myself,and walking his dog beside at the same time is truly bizzare.We can't force meat eating animals to become victims of our beliefs and confronting nature.No,we must stop using dogs and cats as pets,that would be the only reasonable solution.Uthopian and impossible to realize but fair to our pets and our beliefs.Or we must get rabbits or goats as pets and feed them with plants.l had to face the truth,confess it to myself and decide:l oppose meat industry but l have to feed my dog so l have to support this industry.A vicious circle but l decided to give my dog a privilege of survival at the expense of animals who die in horrific hell and torture on factory farms,like objects on a production line.lt was a hard truth to face,a totall mess inside my heart,awareness of how the things are interlaced on every step we make.But l decided and l stood firmly behind it.No turning a blind eye,no hypocrisy and no going against the nature with forcing my dog's plant diet.Everyone has to look in the mirror and accept the facts.Everything else is hypocrisy or selfishness.

Submitted by Mika | December 31 2012 |

Feeding your dog a vegan diet is not animal abuse when the animal gets everything his body needs. You need to do some more research.

Submitted by Cindy | June 24 2014 |

Regarding your comment about vegan hypocrisy/selfishness: Let's compare the "cruelty" of a dog not eating meat (even though mine and thousands of others do just fine as vegetarians/vegans) to a cow, pig or chicken living through the horrors of factory farms and slaughter houses. No comparison.

I go to considerable trouble to feed my dogs carefully balanced meals without meat because, you bet, I will not contribute to this awful situation with factory farms, not for my diet or my dogs.

Regarding pets - the reason I have a dog and not a goat is because I get my dogs from shelters, so they can have a life outside of a cage, otherwise. If there were no homeless dogs, I would also believe that they should not be captive.

My vegetarian dogs go for runs nearly every day with me, they love going for rides in the car, have their own favorite toys and blankets, I am obsessive about fresh water throughout the day, all their food is organic and fresh. They have a dog door so they can go outside when ever they need to. They go "naked" in the house...no collars inside and they sleep with me at night...in my bed. Really, you would call that cruel? They both came from shelters where one lived for two years and the other 6 months. I would say their lives have improved exponentially.

Submitted by Lisa | August 21 2012 |

While I'm not ready to go the vegan route with my dogs, I would like to add my own observations about what my dogs naturally choose to eat.

Here are some of the non-meat things that my dogs will seek out during out walks and seem to enjoy eating:

grass

rabbit poop

Canada Goose poop

acorns

Some of these items may or may not be good for them. I'm just offering my observation of what they naturally will eat and seem to want to eat of their own free will.

I'm pretty sure the rabbit poop doesn't contain any protein at all, since rabbits seem to spend most of their time eating plant material. So why do my dogs love to eat it? Ditto for the Canada Goose poop.

Submitted by Anonymous | August 21 2012 |

Thanks for the article (I know it's a little old). Glad to hear your dog is doing so well and loving being vegan. We are 2 vegetarians transitioning our dogs to vegan too so your article was really helpful. Just ordered some V dogfood. :)

To the person who posted before me. Dogs are omnivores like human. They do not need meat. If you really are a vegetarian I think you would know this. I have a feeling you are just trying to stir something up though. ah well

Submitted by Anonymous | September 7 2012 |

Here is a good link on the issue of vegan dogs. Everyone, please do thorough research before you decide to subject your dog to a vegan diet. A few blurbs on the internet shouldn't make you decide to implement significant dietary changes in your life or your dog's life. This article is a start, be responsible and do more research! Ask a few different vets as well.

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/01/19/vege...

Submitted by Anonymous | November 15 2012 |

Mercola. There's a reliable source. That article was clearly written by someone who has done zero research on the subject.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 23 2012 |

gorillas have carnivorous teeth but are not carnivores. I can see how dogs eating a healthy vegan diet would alarm a Vet. Imagine how quiet the consultation room would be!

Submitted by Anonymous | January 17 2013 |

Hazel is cute! Love this article and v-dog. But I'm always concern about fluid and freshness. Any trustworthy wet food or freeze dried? My dog won't eat kibbles. Think she'll be fine with Sojos Grain Free Mix and Grandma Lucy's Freeze Dried Sweet Potato? Also why are there no quality stuff for cats?

Submitted by Mindsinharmony | March 20 2013 |

I am worried that sojos will not provide enough protein or amino acids for my dogs. I purchased a large bag of their grain-free veggie blend and it is freeze-dried, requiring you to soak for better digestion.
The crude analysis is:
14.3% protein
5.1% fat
8.2% fiber
10% or less moisture

The bag and website suggest not feeding this product without adding raw meat :/

Submitted by Anonymous | March 3 2013 |

My dogs currently eat organic raw, farm raised meat and organic veggies and are in optimal health. My dogs absolutely love their fruits and veggies! Beg for them actually! If I peel an orange, cut into a mango, am eating blueberries or raspberries, steam broccoli etc. my dogs come running! I'm considering switching my dogs to a vegan diet, or at least seriously reducing the animal protein in their diets. A dog's physiology is very similar to people, and research shows plant based diets reduce the risk of cancer and all inflammatory diseases/disorders. If anyone is truly interested read the China Study - research based and very informative.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 13 2013 |

I am vegan and I admire you for putting so much thought and effort into producing a healthy diet for your dogs.

The fact is that dogs have canines because in the wild they rely on killing animals to survive. They don't have the worry of survival in the home, so they do not need to source their protein from animals, even if their inbuilt instincts tell them to.

There is no point making it over-complicated. Dogs need at least 25% protein in their diet. If you get that 25% from non-animal sources it is exactly the same nutritionally as feeding your dog another animal.

Submitted by Dr. M. Johnson | May 3 2013 |

By substituting meat for wheat, you are introducing a multitude of GI problems for your dog. Please don't give me the stories about dogs who lived to be 25 on a vegan diet. They are few and far between. Vegan food does not and cannot replace a complete, responsible and varied diet without lots and lots of supplements (B12, taurine, omega 3, etc. etc.) and usually synthetics just don't cut it.

If you really want to be a responsible vegan pet owner, get a rabbit.

Dr. J (DVM)

Submitted by Amy | May 9 2013 |

Enough already! Vegan food CAN replace a carnivorous diet for dogs! The source of the nutrients is irrelevant, provided their intake is adequate and closely monitored. Sure, some people may not feed the appropriate ratios of protein or pay attention to micronutrients but the same can be said for so many more non vegan dogs being fed absolute shit!A co-worker of mine killed all 3 of her dogs by feeding them leftover ham for several days and was absolutely perplexed that she could have been to blame.

So many humans 'go vegan' only to return to carnism due to poor health which they unfairly blame on veganism, not their crappy food choices. You can be sure that these people either eat too few calories and are unable to meet their basic nutritional needs, or they subsist on a diet of vegan junk food thinking all vegan food must be healthy (chips, oreos, soy ice cream etc, all vegan, all terrible for you). This is relevant to dogs too! Another example is feeding 'pet' birds seed and seed alone- this is terribly unhealthy being that there is a very high fat content and not enough nutrition. Caged birds have a dramatically shortened lifespan as they are still wild animals and rely on humans to get it right, in which they so often fail miserably.

The fact is that most manufactured dog foods add synthetic vitamins and proteins anyway because the natural stuff is destroyed during processing. It may meet or exceed protein requirements, but the source of such protein is usually from compromised sources. Not to mention many people are happy spending the bare minimum on dog food - equivalent to eating burgers, fries and soft-drinks all day every day for the poor things.

After much soul searching and a huge amount of research both of my large breed babies are both vegan (after eating the 'Biologically Approved Raw Food for dogs for some time, available here in Aus) and are in absolutely perfect health. If either of my beautiful companions ever showed signs of ill health due to diet, I would not hesitate to return to feeding flesh. But they're absolutely fine. Being omnivores they can create their own nutrients if supplied with the right amounts of the right foods. I feed them 80% home made, which is mainly green lentils (very high in protein) and sweet potato plus broccoli, zucchini, beets, carrots and 'Augustine Approved' vegan dog supplement (anyone actually interested please check it out!) all completely pureed to ensure they can absorb nutrients. The remaining 20% is vegan kibble (wheat free due to an intolerance discovered at 4 months old when eating 'high quality' kibble), peanut butter mashed into kongs along with other yummy treats and crunchy carrots for clean, healthy teeth!

This is all a bit of a rambling but I feel very strongly about this topic, and trust me I have heard every argument against. Everyone's a critic and as soon as they hear the word vegan, they're a damn nutritionist/biologist too spouting the arguments our cultures have trained them to believe. Evidence speaks in favour of veganism for both my babies and myself. There WILL be a point in the future where there is not enough water to keep producing the world's demand for animal products for humans, let alone animals. It is simply not going to continue. Not for some time, not even in the next few generations I hope to adopt; but it's coming. You might want to have your dogs prepared to eat what you put down so you don't have to witness them starve to death.

Submitted by Cindy | June 24 2014 |

Well said!

Submitted by Anonymous | July 1 2014 |

200% incorrect. Vegan diets are carbohydrate-based. Carbohydrates are inflammatory, feed cancer (glucose), contribute to periodontal disease (leading to systemic organ failure, eg heart), cause insulin spikes leading to a multitude of other issues in the long-term (thyroid, liver, diabetes, heart disease) and also cause pancreatic problems due to extreme stress on the pancreas (secreting heavy loads of carb enzymes over a long period of time). The low moisture content coupled with high plant protein may also cause renal failure in the long term. The preservatives used may also be linked to cancer (BHA, BHT etc), and these diets also skew the omega3/6 ratio, causing further inflammation (linked to cancer again). They cause urine alkalinity leading to urinary problems such as crystals, blockages and UTI’s.

Brief into to dog anatomy/physiology:

- Stomach PH: Their highly acidic stomach is designed for eliminating harmful bacteria and breaking down bone into a gel-like substance. Humans have a much more alkaline stomach acid which is why we would struggle to digest raw bone.

-Digestive Enzymes: Higher level of proteases to break down animal protein. High bile load to help push through bacteria.

-Dental Anatomy: Sharp pointed teeth designed for ripping and tearing flesh and bones.Dogs do not chew their food as we do, they are wired to swallow chunks quickly as a basic survival instinct.

-Jaws: Dogs also have strong jaws that physically cannot move sideways (like your own can). This sideways grinding action is a feature that allows pre-digestion of plant material. Again, dogs rip off chunks and swallow them whole.

-Lack of Salivary Amylase: Omnivores have this for pre-digestion of carbohydrates. Dogs and cats do not. The canine pancreas secretes amylase as a backup, however this does not mean they should be fed a high carbohydrate diet every day for a lifetime. Processed food (incl vegan) is 40-70% carbohydrate.

-Lysozyme: Instead of amylase, dogs have lysozyme in their saliva which is an antibacterial. This may be useful for destroying any harmful bacteria in carrion/rotten food/feces, as well as wound cleaning.

-Gut length: The canine gut is short in length which is because flesh must be pushed through quickly. It does not need to sit and ferment, as this could allow bacteria to multiply to harmful levels. Note that plant eating animals have a long digestive tract and even multiple stomach chambers in order for plant material to be slowly broken down by the necessary enzymes.

-Nutrient profiles. Dogs have 0% biological requirement for carbohydrates. They gain every single essential nutrient from a prey based diet such as Whole Prey/Prey Model. Vegan diets are full of processed lab-made vitamins and minerals. Many vitamin pre-mixes are made in china and shipped to the country of manufacture.

All in all, dogs will survive on a high carbohydrate diet but it will cause systemic effects eventually. Similar to smoking, a junk food diet affects every dog differently and some may be affected more severely than others, and in different time spans. You can also expect high vet fees in the form of dental cleanings, dental surgeries and various health problem later on in life.

It is not recommended that you feed your pet the equivalent of a big mac for the entirety of its life. This is essentially what kibble and vegan diets are. Evolution has changed the appearance and even the behaviour of your dog, but their digestive system is still geared towards meat. Basically, you are paying money to have a company slowly kill your pet from the inside out.

Submitted by alison | July 7 2014 |

Wow. First off who wrote this? Actually some sort of reference to the inflammatory allegations made in this article would be a good start. Here's a good starting point to look at the topic:
Vegetarian Diets Can Be Healthy for Dogs
by Dr. Armaiti May, D.V.M., C.V.A.

For both ethical and health reasons, many vegetarians and vegans choose to feed their companion dogs vegetarian or vegan diets. Up to 50 % of commercial pet food brands are comprised of "meat meal" and "byproducts," which include various body parts (such as beaks, brain, spinal cord tissue, bones, lungs, intestinal tracts) slaughterhouse wastes, 4-D meat (from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals), supermarket rejects, as well as rendered dogs and cats from animal shelters. Other contaminants which have been found in commercial pet foods include old restaurant grease containing high concentrations of dangerous free radicals and trans fatty acids; PCBs, heavy metals and other toxins, particularly from fish; bacterial, protozoal, fungal, viral, and prion contaminants, along with their associated endotoxins and mycotoxins; hormone and antibiotic residues; and dangerous preservatives. Many speculate that the increase in incidences of cancers, kidney failure, and other degenerative diseases in our companion animals recently may be due to the harmful ingredients in many commercial meat-based pet foods. This has led people to feed alternative diets.

Dogs can be healthy and in fact, thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as all necessary nutrient requirements are met. Dogs are biologically omnivorous, but can adapt well to a plant-based diet which meets all their nutritional needs. It's important that the food be digested easily as well as have good palatability. The transition to a plant-based diet should be a gradual change (mixing the 2 foods in different proportions until the new food is given exclusively) to minimize the occurrence of gastrointestinal disturbances (such as diarrhea and sometimes vomiting).

In my clinical practice treating dogs, one of the most common ailments I diagnose and treat in dogs is skin allergies. Recurrent skin allergies (itching, scratching, biting, licking, leading to recurrent inflammation and infection of the skin) are usually due to one of the following (and sometimes a combination of these factors): (1) flea allergy dermatitis (the most commonly diagnosed); (2) food allergy (occurs in about 10-20% of cases); and (3) atopy, which is an allergy to something in the environment, such as house dust mites, pollen, grass, etc. Atopy is relatively uncommon. Most of the time a dog has a food allergy it is to a meat protein such as beef, chicken, or one of the other common meat sources. Vegetarian diets may bring these food allergic dogs relief from their skin allergies. A smaller percentage of dogs are allergic to soy, which may limit choices of commercially available vegetarian diets. In that case, if a caretaker wishes to feed a vegan diet, a homemade diet may be the next best option, but even more care must be taken to insure appropriate nutrient balance and supplements may need to be added to the diet.

Although dry kibble is generally better for dental health, if the dog is predisposed to urinary problems such as urinary crystals, canned (moist) food would be a better choice because the higher water intake helps to dilute out the urine and reduce the incidence of crystal and stone formation. One of the potential but unlikely risks associated with vegetarian diets in dogs is the occurrence of struvite crystals, which are more likely to occur if the urine pH becomes too alkaline. (This problem affects certain breeds of dog more commonly; the affected breeds include shih tzus, miniature schnauzers, bichon frises, miniature poodles, cocker spaniels, and Lhasa apsos.) Adding water to the dry food or encouraging the dog to drink water would be another way to address the issue of urine concentration which is related to crystal formation (the more dilute the urine, the less likely crystals are to form). To avoid any problems associated with urinary alkalinization secondary to the dog being on a vegetarian diet, I recommend that 2-3 weeks after switching the dog from a meat-based to a plant-based diet that he/she be brought to a veterinarian to have a urinalysis performed. This simple test will show what the urine pH is, as well as whether any crystals are present, therefore heading off any problems before they start. If the urine pH is too high (too alkaline) and/or struvite crystals are present, various acidifying agents can be used.

Although diet-related problems are unlikely to occur for dogs on a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, certain dog breeds are predisposed to DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy), a form of heart disease which may be influenced by lack of sufficient intake of taurine and/or carnitine (amino acids which are naturally occurring in flesh foods but can be added to the diet via synthetic supplements which are readily available. Doberman pinschers, boxers, "giant breeds" (Scottish deerhounds, Irish wolfhounds, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Afghan hounds), and cocker spaniels are the dog breeds predisposed to DCM. The role of carnitine and taurine in the therapy of DCM remains controversial. American cocker spaniels with dilated cardiomyopathy generally respond favorably to taurine supplementation. Those not responding to taurine will often respond to the addition of L-carnitine. This http://www.carnitine-taurine.com/index.htm contains info on ordering supplements of taurine and carnitine for affected dogs. If someone has one of the predisposed breeds, it may be beneficial to supplement with taurine and/or carnitine if not already present in the vegetarian diet, in conjunction with consulting one's veterinarian.

Armaiti May, D.V.M.
Dr. May's Veterinary House Calls
Serving dogs and cats in West LA
www.drmayvethousecalls.com

Submitted by Gregg Boersma | July 7 2014 |

Very interesting points made here. It would be helpful to know a little something about this reader's credentials. Vet? Researcher? Just an informed dog owner?

Submitted by Nikki | July 7 2014 |

If they possessed any credentials they would not have posted anonymously. The entirety of their article is copied and pasted from a tumbler website (http://raw-fed-pets.tumblr.com) which is also completely anonymous and uncredited.

Submitted by pitbull friend | July 7 2014 |

Or possibly an uninformed one?

Submitted by Basil Brown | July 7 2014 |

Very glad to read this. Although I have chosen a vegetarian died for myself, I do not feed my dogs and cat a vegetarian diet. I figured since they are carnivores, it really wouldn't be good for them. So happy to read an excellent explanation of why vegetarianism would be bad for dogs and cats! Thank you!

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