Can a Dog Be Vegan?
So you’re a vegan who has probably reaped many health benefits by eating whole plant-based foods. If you have a dog, you’re bound to wonder: can a dog be vegan?
There have been numerous studies proving the many benefits of going vegan, but those studies are mostly targeted toward humans. So what about dogs? Can you feed them a vegan diet, or is it unnatural or insufficient for them?
All your questions will be answered shortly!
Much like us humans, our furry friends also need a nutritionally balanced diet to thrive. This means they need their carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, and most importantly, proteins.
Most dog treats do come from animal sources and contain animal byproducts, which essentially helps them get their daily protein requirement. According to PetMD, the daily protein requirement for growing dogs is 18 percent dry matter and 8 percent for adult dogs.
It’s important to note that when it comes to nutrition in dogs, the breed, age, size, and health conditions all come into play. So there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy dog diet, be it vegan or not. It may even depend on your dog’s energy needs, whether they are very active or prefer most of their day lounging on the couch.
While protein is important for their muscle and skeletal health, fats provide the most energy to them, in conjunction with carbohydrates. And when we talk about carbs, how can we forget fiber? Fiber is important for their digestive health, helping maintain a healthy colon.
Most dog treats and foods are designed with all these nutrient needs in mind. However, at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility as the owner to ensure that your dog is getting all these essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in their food.
Why Feed Dogs a Vegan Diet?
Let’s answer the main question first: can a dog be vegan? Your dog can survive on a meatless vegan diet, provided they are getting all their nutrients. Whether they love it or not is another question!
There are benefits to feeding your dog vegan food only, just as there are benefits for you. And they are pretty similar.
Meat May Be Bad For Your Dog
When even the premium-quality red meat can pose health risks to humans, one can only imagine the risks animal meat-based pet food poses for dogs. Most pet food products using meat use scraps that come from dead, diseased, or disabled animals.
The safety standards for pet food are not even close to what they are for our food. There have been many instances in the past where major pet food brands have recalled products because of contamination.
This is one of the reasons why there has been an uptick in vegan pet food startups that are addressing the health concerns caused by such foods.
On the other hand, raw meat products for pets aren’t immune from contamination and health risks either. A research study found that raw meat pet food can contain bacteria that resist antibiotics. The study focused on the lethal bacteria Enterococci, which can cause a number of serious infections.
On examining samples from 25 brands, nearly half of them had the bacteria. The alarming part is that this isn’t just dangerous for animals but for humans too, considering how close contact animals dogs are.
Vegan Diet is Environment-Friendly
According to PLOS One, the carbon footprint of meat-based animal food is equal to the emission of 64 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s roughly equivalent to driving 13 million cars on the road for a year, which is basically nearly the number of cars in Turkey.
It’s clear that much like meat production for human consumption, meat-based pet food production and consumption are also taking a heavy toll on the environment.
In comparison with an omnivore diet, a vegan diet is considered the best for the environment with the lowest carbon emissions.
Numerous Health Benefits
In many cases, dogs might benefit more from eating a purely vegan or vegetarian diet. Vegetables are chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants that can improve their overall health, both physical and internal.
If you go for commercial complete dog foods that are vegan, there’s no doubt that your dog will get the nutrition they need.
Similarly, such a diet may also prove beneficial for dogs with certain food allergies.
Do Dogs Even Like Vegan Food?
Your dog may or may not welcome vegan food so readily, which is totally normal. With a growing number of plant-based dogs, there’s no reason to believe that they won’t like it. It’s just a question of slow and steady transition.
If you turned vegan later in your life, you probably didn’t go cold turkey one night and never ate meat ever again. For most people, it’s a slow transition at their own pace. Dogs are no different in this case.
Plus, the good news is that a lot of new vegan dog food brands are popping up, producing delicious, healthy treats that dogs won’t resist.
The best course of action would be to constantly consult with your veterinarian and carry out periodic nutritional checks as well.
Best Vegan Dog Food
The vegan pet food market isn’t as saturated right now as the regular pet food. However, there are many decent options you can choose from. V-Dog is the most popular plant-based dog food company, producing a range of products, including their famous V-Dog Kibble.
Other popular vegan dog food products are Wild Earth Plant-based Dry Protein and Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog Food.
So can a dog be vegan? They sure can. However, it’s important to ensure they are getting proper nutrition. If you decide to feed your dog only vegan pet food, make sure to consult with your vet prior to and post the switch.
According to one survey, 27 percent of responding dog owners are feeding their loyal friends plant-based food. This number is likely to increase as plant-based diets on the whole continue to rise.
May your dog live a happy, healthy, and long life! Cheers!