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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.

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 Kristin Coleman | July 7 2014 |

Please note the veterinary response is in regard to dogs being ok with a vegan diet. She does not mention cats. I believe the research is very different for cats.

Submitted by Nikki | July 7 2014 |

Why is this article uncredited? Who wrote this and what are their credentials? There is so much misinformation in this article it makes my head spin. I'm vegan and became vegan in order to DECREASE inflammatory responses - quite obviously this author does not know the difference between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. So what does this author feed his/her dog(s)? If commercial food, then they are feeding a omniovore diet chock-full of carbs, filler and synthetic vitamins. The extreme temperatures used in commercial pet food manufacturing destroys most of the inherent nutrients of the raw food ingredients, including proteins which are denatured by high heat, rendering the food all but nutrient deficient, which is why in all commercial canned and dry pet food vitamins must be added back to the final product. Sadly, this author knows diddly-squat about vegan diets and the multitude of health benefits plant-based diets offer over a meat-based diet. Furthermore, the entirety of this post was copied, word for word, from a tumbler.com website (http://raw-fed-pets.tumblr.com), so there is real doubt as to this author's "expertise," given that they are merely parroting (and stealing content) from another website that advocates a raw meat diet -- a diet that is equally mired in controversy, with no shortage of medical warnings against a meat-heavy diet (http://web-dvm.net/dogs-are-omnivores-and-should-be-fed-as-such/).

Submitted by kelley moss | July 7 2014 |

I am a microbiologist that has a background in animal science and animal behavior, and to the best of my knowledge canines do not eat vegan in the wild. Therefore, I think it is negligent if not harmful to try and feed your dog that way. That being said, who in the world wrote this article and what is their qualification??? Some of this information may be true but none of it has any citation and could just as easily be their opinion or hearsay. Please don't publish "science sounding" articles without any supporting information, or clarification on the writer's area of expertise. I'd like to convince people not to feed their dogs a vegan diet, but two arguments of opinion and bias do not make a "right".

Submitted by Joanne Marrs | July 7 2014 |

Just wanted to share my personal experience. I am vegan and had great success with feeding my dog a vegan diet. She ate vegan from the age of 3 to 13 (almost 14). She was a lab/rottie mix and was the first dog of that size I've had live so long. She was in good health, did not require dental cleanings, shiny coat and great energy. When I made the decision to try a vegan diet it was conditional on her health. Since her health was always good, never needed to change it. I gave her vegan supplements and chew bones as well.
All the vegan dog foods that I have seen have human grade ingredients and I think that is a key factor in any kind of dog food.

Submitted by pitbull friend | July 7 2014 |

"All in all, dogs will survive on a high carbohydrate diet but it will cause systemic effects eventually." Huh. I guess no one told my malamute mix (who lived to age 17 on a vegan diet), my golden mix (16), my Akita mix (14), or my pit bull mix who is going strong at age 12 with zero health issues. (Not to mention about 150 foster dogs who have done well on a vegan diet while at my house.) No dog living in my house has ever had renal, thyroid, or heart issues or developed a UTI, and only one (the Golden) needed annual dental cleanings. The only long-term medications any of them has needed have been for arthritis in old age. All I can figure is that the oh-so-certain naysayer above is thinking of something crazy and unbalanced, like feeding a dog only rice? Otherwise, I'm mystified.

A few years ago, I changed veterinary offices. After examining the above-mentioned dogs, my new vet said to me, "What are you feeding these dogs? Do you have a fountain of youth under your house?" Yep, sure sounds like I'm killing my dogs, doesn't it? I have great respect for people with scientific knowledge, but the veterinarian quoted above sounds like s/he has way too much certainty about things where s/he knows little.

Submitted by Jana | May 8 2013 |

Is the dog on the picture yours? If so, why is she wearing this kind of collar? It is very painful for the dog.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 9 2013 |


Submitted by penny | May 24 2013 |

Sorry, your information is wrong about the oldest dog in the world, it was an Australian Cattle Dog (Bluey, 29 and a half years old) and "Bella, a Labrador mix, died in September at the age of 29, Butch the Beagle lived to 28, and Bramble, a collie, lived to 27." putting her in 4th position...still good but she was the only veggie in the mix. I haven't eaten meat in almost 30 years but my animals have guts (and teeth) made for it and I spend the money to buy them local, well-kept animal meats. It's a tricky mix to make a successful vegetarian/vegan diet for a dog, you need professional advice and support. One veterinarian has said, "Pet care professionals who warn against vegetarian diets for dogs and cats empathize with pet owners’ concerns that lead to these decisions. But there are options other than species-inappropriate diets for dogs or cats.

“People do this to make themselves happy,” says Olson, who worked in psychotherapy before changing careers in the early 1990s. “It’s not about the animal. When people tell me they want to feed a vegan diet, I say, ‘Get a goat, get a rabbit.’” Remember, those pointy teeth aren't just decorations.

Submitted by Jane | May 29 2013 |

I find it laughable that the same people criticizing those who feed their pets meatless diets are the ones feeding their dogs processed kibble foods day in and day out for their entire lives. The argument that a veg diet must be synthetically supplemented to make it nutritionally complete applies to kibble as well. Check out the long list of added vitamins and minerals on your kibble bag. I think the biggest difference between a bag of veg based kibble and a bag of meat based kibble is another animal didn't have to die to produce one of them. Vegans I'm sure do a lot of soul searching and research before they decide on a vegan diet for their pets, which is a lot more than I can say for those who have been brainwashed by the pet food industry. Unfortunately vegan kibble isn't much better than meat based kibble as it is still highly processed using waste products from the human food industry, however, most people who go the vegan dog food route also feed their dogs fresh food, and use the kibble more for supplementation and convenience. Calling vegans ignorant can't be farther from the truth - they choose this path because they are AWARE and ENLIGHTENED, and are LIVING the change that needs to happen in this broken food system.

Submitted by Brian | July 21 2013 |

If I had the author's contact information I would call the ASPCA on her for abusing and starving her dog. Feeding your dog a vegan diet because you find meat icky is animal abuse plain and simple and truly resent the author's smug attitude in regard to mistreating her dog. You vegans are just like Christian Fundamentalists trying to pray the gay away or force people and creatures into your stupid way of living. Eat a steak!!!

Submitted by Jane | July 27 2013 |

Brian, you're missing the point. Feeding dogs "meat" based kibble is meat that has been denatured from being cooked down to meal, then reprocessed to make the kibble. Hence the long list of added vitamins and minerals having to be added back in to the food. Most people don't feed their dogs fresh meat (which by the way is really what dogs should be eating to maintain health and vitality NOT kibble) so perhaps you should report ALL people feeding kibble for abuse??? Or better yet, go after the dog food manufacturers who are profiting by packaging up waste products and hoodwinking joe public into thinking it's real food. Name calling and bullying to make your point gives one the impression you haven't done any research.

Submitted by Smc | July 28 2013 |

You say your a vegan and then your dog is wearing a prong collar.... What sheer hypocrisy!!!

Submitted by &YFSV& | August 20 2013 |

The vegan diet isn't for all dogs... I have a 15 year old American pit bull terrior and he is still very sharp, happy and energetic. He even survived cancer. All of his life he has eaten pedigree. Domestic dogs are the descendents of wolves, and wolves eat meat!!
oh yeah,
the average apbt lives about 12 years

Submitted by VG | September 11 2013 |

want a vegan pet?... you should get a guinea pig or rabbit or something like that.

Submitted by Lexie | February 16 2014 |

My dog is fed BARF - Biologically appropriate raw food.
I know a lot of vegetarians who feed their dogs this diet consisting of bones, liver and meat. They believe just as I do that if you can't give your pet food that they are born to eat, then you should consider to change pet to your life style. They give their dog food that humans don't want to eat and by doing that - doesn't help the killing of animals. My dog thrives on this diet and I know it's the right diet. Her mouth doesn't have any odor, because its the diet they were born to eat and by that it means that they clean their teeth with eating. A dog shouldn't have bad breath, there's probably some kind of problem with the teeth according to the veterinarian Tom Lonsdale.

Submitted by Debra | June 4 2014 |

I am trying to transition my adopted dog but having a tough time. I tried evolution and halo and he just leaves it there. He does not even eat peanut butter or treats. In the meantime I have to feed him fresh pet that has chicken until I find a meal he will gobble up. He is very picky and frustrated because he will not eat and when you take him out he picks on things in the street before I discover it and also the grass. As a Vegan it's troubling for me to have to give him poultry. I need advice and recipies as he will not eat vegetables as well, just the crap they sell with the dyes. Should I attempt to get him V-dog?

Submitted by Bobby | June 8 2014 |

While I am a vegan Staffordshire Bullterrier myself, just one quick thing (or two, rather): Firstly, Taurine is not an amino acid, despite containing an amino group and second: It's essential for cats, but not for us dogs =)

Cheers for your article though!

Submitted by SomeGuy | June 26 2014 |

This article suggests that you ensure the cannine vegan diet includes the ammino acids L-Carnitine and Taurine, it should be noted that L-Carnitine and taurine are generally produced via animal/natural sources,as they are only found naturally in meat or through liver secretions (taurine). So you will need to find a vegetarian form of these ammios (if they exist) if you want to stay a true vegan. And sadly the syntehtic forms are not absorbed and utilized by the body nearly as well as their naturally sourced counterparts. And these are integral ammio's for a dog and a human too, thats they both eat meat. Sadly, and wether your ethics or concious likes it or not, we humans and especially dogs were genetically coded to to eat meat... if we weren't then we have teeth like rabbits... and if your dog ever got lost in the woods and had to survive, you think it would be looking for veggies to stay alive?... And you may think your dog loves it, but as you know dogs, if allowed, will eat pretty much anything until they throw up, and then they will keep eating and eating, includingh what they threw up lol. they are by their very nature scavengers. So do your dog a favour and don't make the popular Vegan/Vegetarian mistake of Anthropomorphizing your dog and it's eagerness to eat more as an indication that he loves his vegan diet.... Sadly for you vegans, the truth is, if a dog (or a cat), is given 2 bowls, one vegan and one of meat, they would choose meat over veggies 100% of the time.... and in the wild, if they were Left to fend for themselves, they would hunt for meat not veggies, as the truth is, if you put a starving dog in a field of veggetables, it's likely they would die of starvation...

Submitted by jeab | July 8 2014 |

....While precise information on the potential damage caused by the use of choke and prong collars is still being collected, there are many cases of dogs suffering soft tissue damage, eye problems, strangulation (leading to death), tracheal/esophageal damage and neurological problems resulting from the use of choke/prong collars.....
I am vegan and thinking about put transmit my dogs to partially vegan too. But I cannot understand the prong collars here.. it looks abusive.

I wish you .. who seem to be role model for many.. don't use it. Thanks


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