Vegan or Vegetarian Diet for Dogs
A vegetarian diet for dogs? But aren’t they carnivores?
Good news! Dogs by nature are omnivores, not carnivores. They can thrive on a diet without meat.
Plus the needs of our dogs can be much different than the wolves they descended from. Wolves are less active, live in a less clean environment with less healthy food sources and don’t fast as long between meals.
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There are many good reasons to eliminate meat from your dog’s diet, including health, global, ethical and environmental concerns.
As with any other new diet, take caution when transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan dog diet.
The rest of this page will cover...
- Vegetarian or Vegan?
- Benefits of protein and how to include it in a vegetarian diet
- The right vegetarian or vegan diet for your dog
Read our page about raw dog food diets to get both sides of the story before making any final decisions for your dog.
If you do decide to go vegan/vegetarian, be sure to check out our free Vegan and Vegetarian Dog Food Recipes!
Whereas a vegetarian diet for dogs allows some animal-based foods into your dog’s diet, a strictly vegan diet would mean no animal products whatsoever.
If you're open to poultry as a red meat substitute, select turkey over chicken as it has more protein, is usually raised more humanely and are usually fed a more vegetarian feed.
Both vegan and vegetarian diets can be safe and healthy, but you need to be mindful of how much protein your dog is receiving. If you decide to go with no meat whatsoever, at a minimum your dog's diet must include protein-based foods or supplements (more on this further down the page).
Regardless of whether you decide to go vegan or vegetarian, some research suggests that dogs may be better off going the vegetarian/vegan route over a meat-filled diet:
"Dogs would benefit in health and temperament worldwide...Such a diet would also greatly reduce the risks of cancer, strokes, heart attacks and other common diseases and disorders."Michael W. Fox, DVM
In addition to protein, you'll need to maintain the appropriate balance of vegetables, vitamins and minerals in a vegan or vegetarian diet for dogs to keep your dog healthy. To help ensure the right nutrient mix, include plenty of vegetarian food variety.
You should also learn which vegetables to feed your dog and whether they should be cooked. Now let’s move on to some good meat (protein) substitutes.
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Dogs need a lot of protein – much more than you and me – to stay healthy.
Since dogs grow so quickly so fast in their early months, puppy food needs even more protein than adult dog food.
While meat (cattle) is the best source of protein, it is also one of the most polluted foods on the market. Harmful elements found in some meat can result in allergies, infections, dog cancer, kidney and liver problems, irritability and hyperactivity.
So how should your dog get the necessary amount of protein when eating a vegan or vegetarian diet for dogs?
Through meat substitutes, including...
- Dairy Products
- Soy products may or may not be tough to digest. Start with small portions to determine how your dog reacts.
- Protein supplements
The possible vegetarian meals are virtually endless, and different diets are necessary for different dogs. To make sure that you are preparing the right food for your dog, pick up a good natural health book for dogs and follow the diet given based on the size of your dog and the breed – it will ensure that your dog is getting all of the necessary nutrients and the right variety. It will also help you find a diet that your dog actually enjoys.
If you would rather buy your vegetarian dog food pre-made, these are the best on the market...
|Recommended Vegetarian Dog Foods|
Here are a few general guidelines for after the transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet for dogs:
- Talk to your vet about periodically testing your dog’s urine at home. A vegetarian diet for dogs can make your dog more likely to develop urinary tract infections. The recipes provided in a good natural health book should make this a non-issue, but it’s better to be on the safe side and catch a problem early.
- Consider buying high-quality vegetarian dog food such as those mentioned above, especially if you are uncomfortable with preparing vegetarian meals or just don’t have the time. You can also pick up veggie biscuits and treats as training aids.
- Dogs’ digestive tracts are much shorter than ours, so some vegetables should be cooked to be made more digestible. When cooking, it is best to bake the veggies to retain the most nutrients. Boiling is your next best option.
If you'd like specific dietary advice from our veterinarians, sign up for our My Online Vet ask-the-veterinarian online service (be sure to provide a lot of details about your dog and his or her history).
One of our holistic vets will get back to you right away with dog food advice any another applicable recommendations.
Have a dog recipe question?
Do You Feed Your Dog a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet?
Please share your experiences and advice, such as...
- Why did you start?
- How has your dog responded?
- What specifically do you feed your dog?
- Why should other dog owners consider it?
- Any special tips or considerations?
And don't forget to upload a picture of your little buddy as well!
Other Visitors' Experiences Feeding a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet to Their Dogs
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I became a vegetarian about 2 years ago and my dog did also soon afterward. I made the decision to buy him vegetarian dog food because I did not want...
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