You have finally jumped on the vegan bandwagon—great choice – at least for you.
You love your dog. Of course, you would want your pet to enjoy a healthy lifestyle too!
If you have been mulling over whether your dog should go vegan, too, then we’re here to help you clarify some points about veganism in dogs.
Is it really healthy for dogs? Does it do them more harm than good?
Specifically, let’s find out
- Whether dogs can be vegan
- Reasons why dogs should not be vegan
- Precautions to take if you put your dog on a vegan diet
- Whether dogs survive on a meatless diet
- And a lot more…
Can a dog be vegan?
Yes, dogs can get their nutrition requirements from a carefully planned vegan diet, but it’s not recommended. Even with proper planning, it can cause malnutrition and health problems. Dogs are carnivores. Why change that? Animal health experts who talked to WebMD say “it can be risky”.
8 Reasons Why Dogs Should Not Be Vegan
#1: Vegan Diets Can Cause a Dog To Become Malnourished
Dogs weren’t designed to eat vegetables exclusively – they are not herbivores!
Like people, dogs thrive on a balanced diet that provides them with adequate protein and nutrients to maintain a healthy and robust body.
Dogs are facultative carnivores. By simply looking at their teeth, your gut can tell they’re made for tearing animal meat.
Yes, they can also eat and process non-animal food products. However, they need a steady supply of protein and fat to meet their body’s amino acid requirement.
Other nutrients like vitamin D3 and taurine are two essential nutrients dogs need that can only be sourced from meat. Dogs can’t get those from plants.
#2: It Makes Your Dog Sick
Just because a plant-based diet can be healthy for humans doesn’t mean it can be beneficial for our canine companions too.
A dog’s meal should be rich in protein. It is OK to incorporate a portion of carbs and veggies, but they can never survive purely on plants.
If you put them on a plant-only diet, nutrient deficiencies can happen sooner or later. Your dog may likely suffer from these conditions:
- Heart problems, i.e., cardiomyopathy
- Reproductive issues
- Growth disorders
- Eye problems
- Even death!
A study even reported that vigorously active dogs on a plant-based diet developed sports anemia. In contrast, dogs on a meat diet remained normal.
#3: Vegan dog food isn’t realistic
You need an animal nutritionist to plan a vegan diet that meets your dog’s dietary requirements. And you can’t simply go at it on your own without any assistance from animal health practitioners.
Otherwise, there’ll be plenty of room for error in ensuring your dog is getting enough protein or other nutritional needs.
Whether through in-depth research or guidance from your vet, you need professional direction to prepare your dog’s vegan diet at home. Potential health risks come with these meatless diets.
And once you have made the diet switch, you have to schedule a vet check-up at least two times yearly.
Are you fully ready to invest your time, energy, effort, and money in making a vegan lifestyle happen for your dog?
#4:They process food differently than humans
Dogs have teeth that are designed for chewing on meat and flesh. Why deprive your beloved pet of that?
Another thing is dogs’ tummies are special. There are nutrients that they can process only if they’re given enough animal protein.
For instance, dogs need meat to make vitamin D3. While people can make this vitamin on their skin, dogs can’t. They need to source it from their diet.
And do you know that amino acids from protein are the building blocks of life? They need a protein-rich diet to maintain healthy organs, muscles, bones, blood, fur, teeth, and nails.
Can a Dog Die From a 100% Vegan Diet?
An animal expert who talked to Telegraph UK warns that dogs can die from a vegan diet. Would you feed a rabbit with a steak? It is the same thing with our four-legged buddies. The safest and healthiest way to feed our dogs is to give them their natural diet – meat. If possible, feed them organic meat.
#5: Vegan dog food is expensive
If you prepare it at home, you’ll be needing your vet’s help (that requires a fee). Plus, you also need to carefully select food items to ensure that your dog gets the right amount of nutrients from its meal.
Veganism in pets (as it is in humans) is a niche market. Thus, products supplied to this market can be pretty expensive than typical dog food.
Commercial vegan dog food is designed with a professional’s help. That being clinically prepared adds to the price for sure.
#6: It’s not guilt-free
A veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor at the University of California shared that there’s a pet who almost died from a vegan diet.
It wasn’t getting enough nutrition from the mixed vegan and chicken diet, which led to a near-death result. Of course, the pet owners felt highly guilty after that.
We don’t want that same scenario to happen to our dogs.
That’s not to say pet owners who want their pets to eat vegan have bad intentions. On the one hand, freakish accidents can happen when things go wrong, right?
#7: It’s not ethical
Dogs are carnivores. Depriving them of a diet that contains meat is unethical. Perhaps you might think that you are doing animals a favor by giving your dogs a vegan meal.
Ironically, by not feeding your dog meat, you’re cruel to your furry buddy.
Meat is a dog’s natural diet. If you can give your dog some organic meat, that’s even better. But never go completely meatless. That’s mean.
#8: Vegan diets make unhappy dogs
Imagine this. You put two bowls in front of your dog. One bowl contains meat, and the other bowl has tofu with vegetables. Which bowl do you think your dog would choose? If we put ourselves in our dogs’ shoes, which bowl will make you happy?
Dogs are a different species from humans. Yes, we love our dogs, we want them to be like us almost, but that will never happen. Before imposing our personal diet choices on our pets, let’s understand their needs first. Consider what experts call “species-appropriate” diets to make a healthier decision for your dog.
4 Precautions To Take If You’re Going To Put Your Dog on a Vegan Diet
#1: Consult with a veterinarian
If you’re thinking of the vegan diet switch for your dog, speak to your veterinarian first. It can’t be done alone.
Dogs have particular dietary needs. You can’t give them less than the recommended levels of fats and proteins because it can lead to illness.
It takes science to plan a vegan meal for your dog. You need someone knowledgeable to formulate that correctly.
If you choose to DIY at home, you still need your vet to assess whether your homemade dog vegan diet meets the requirements.
#2: Never feed vegan food to puppies
Puppies have special dietary needs because they are still growing and developing. They need the right amount of energy and fatty acids to prevent diseases and infections.
If you feed them a low-fat diet, chances are they’ll develop skin problems and unhealthy hair.
Fatty acids that they get from animal food sources also help them develop good vision. What’s more? It makes them learn tricks faster! If you want a more intelligent pet, don’t deprive your dog of a meaty meal.
#3: Regular vet checks
Has your dog gone vegan? Make sure to see your vet more frequently. Get a complete pet health check, including stool and blood work, to detect and/or prevent any potential health issues.
It is very easy for a no-meat dog diet to go wrong when unsupervised. It’s better safe than sorry!
Experts advise scheduling a vet appointment at least twice a year, especially if your dog has started a meatless diet.
#4: Make sure it is AAFCO-compliant
If you buy commercially-made vegan or vegetarian dog diets, check whether they have already gone through quality assurance tests and feeding trials.
Find out whether they have passed the standards of AAFCO or Association of American Feed Control Officials. They are like the FDA for dogs. They are canine and feline diet experts that will help ensure our dogs eat only safe and nutritious food.
Do vegan dogs live longer?
No, not really. Dogs will only live longer if we give them a proper diet, care, and enough exercise. Dogs need a balanced lifestyle to live long and healthy. Veganism in dogs is risky. It’s easier to do it wrong than right. Why gamble? When malnutrition happens, all sorts of illnesses follow.
3 Common Myths About Veganism in Dogs
When one social media post about a pet owner who put her dog on a vegan diet went viral, claiming how “happy” her dog was about her vegan meal, the K9-dom went wild.
Some showed support but more expressed exasperation over the owner’s half-truth claims about dog veganism.
Here are the myths that were shut down by an animal biologist who gave some fact-based rebuttals.
Myth #1: Dogs can be fully nourished with vegan meat/meals
Fact: Dogs’ stomachs work differently than humans. It is easier for them to digest meat than plants. They can eat plants, but it is a struggle for them to digest. That’s why plant protein sources like soy are not suitable for our pets.
Lab-designed protein supplements may offset the lack of meat in their diet. Still, they will put your canine pet at risk of a condition called PLE or protein-losing enteropathy.
PLE is not just one but a group of diseases that affect your dog’s stomach. It isn’t a simple diarrhea either but something far more complex than that.
Yes, our canine friends have somehow evolved to be “Flexi-eaters,” being human companions for a long time. But that doesn’t mean they cease to be instinctually carnivorous.
Myth #2: Dogs are happy and satisfied with vegan meals
Fact: The assumption that dogs are content and happy with no-meat meals is unfair.
Do you know that the act of chewing meat alone makes them physically healthy and mentally happy? If denying your dog something that he or she enjoys is not animal cruelty, what is it?
While some vegan pet owners claim that their pet is excited about their vegan meal, this video tells you otherwise!
The poor husky couldn’t lie in front of the camera. When two bowls were presented to him, it was obvious how happy the husky was with the bowl filled with meat. That only proves the fact that when given a choice, they’d never choose the vegan meal!
Don’t be like that husky owner.
Choose to make your dog genuinely happy.
Myth #3: Without meat, dogs can live longer lives
Fact: The key to longer life expectancy in dogs is no different from humans’. They need a balanced lifestyle and a disease-free body.
To achieve that, they need
- Dog-appropriate nutrition
- Adequate mental stimulation
- Physical exercise and leisure
Dogs can get essential proteins from animal sources. Proteins such as keratin, collagen, and elastin are necessary to build healthy muscles and joints.
All of those are difficult (if at all) to obtain from a vegan meal.
5 Reasons Dogs Need Meat For Good Health
#1 Their stomach is designed for meat digestion
Canine tummies are designed so that it is easier for them to digest meat than plants. Odd? Well, that’s how a doggie gut works.
It is especially difficult for dogs to digest fibrous plant-based meals. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies in dogs because they will hardly absorb nutrients from a vegan diet.
#2 They need fatty acids and essential proteins
Meat can be bad for humans but not for our pooches. They get essential fatty acids and proteins from animal food sources. Meatless meals can easily lead to nutrient deficiencies in dogs.
#3 Meat is their natural food
Dogs are naturally carnivorous. Yes, they’ve adapted to domestic living with people and have somehow developed flexible eating habits. But meat for dogs is irresistible. Why, it’s doggie nature!
#4 Chewing meat is good for their mental health
Their sharp and pointed teeth are made to gnaw on and tear meat. Even their brain is hardwired for flesh-eating! How can we deny our dogs meat when it makes them happy and mentally healthy?
What dog breeds can be vegan?
Any breed can go vegan. Meatless diets can even benefit certain breeds. But do you know that chewing on meat alone brings them joy? Meat is a dog’s natural food. Plant-based meals are difficult for dogs to digest. This makes it hard for them to absorb nutrients too.
Can dogs be vegetarian?
Yes, dogs can be vegetarian, but it can be risky for our pooches. If you put your dog on a meatless diet, it’s like betting on your canine friend’s health and even life. Experts advise extreme caution if you decide to do the switch. Formulating a no-meat meal is not easy. Why make your life difficult?
Can dogs survive without meat?
Yes, dogs can survive without meat, but it’s a gamble. Imposing a vegan diet can pose a serious health risk on our pets. They may look OK on the surface, but they will lack key nutrients needed for optimum health and soon develop diseases in the long run. Do you want to see your dog slowly fall apart?