If you are living a vegan lifestyle, eating a plant based diet and you have a canine companion, you might wonder if it is safe to transition your pet to a vegan diet too. The commitment to raising an animal is not too different from raising a child. As such, a pet owner would want to ensure that their pet has an enriched life. That includes giving them a nourishing diet that they can thrive on. At vpets, we help your beloved companion to thrive on a plant based diet for dogs by providing nutritionally complete vegan dog food that does not contribute to the unnecessary suffering of other animals. We are also here to guide you through the process of transitioning your dog to a vegan diet.
Is a Plant Based Diet for Dogs Possible?
The answer is YES! It is possible for your pet to live healthily on a plant based diet for dogs. However, keep in mind that there is an exception of some dogs with allergies or other food issues or specific health problems that require a different dietary approach. Despite dogs’ evolutionary origin as carnivores, they are a highly adaptive species. Dogs can also adapt to a herbivore diet, provided that they are getting complete nutrition from their food source. Their adaptability means they can obtain nutrients from animal products, as well as from fruits, grains, vegetables and legumes.
In fact, there have been cases where a vegan diet for dogs was helping to improve their health. An example is the case of Peanut D. Dog, whose medical problems disappeared after he started eating a 95% vegan diet. Peanut had a suite of medical conditions such as elevated levels of liver enzymes, joint checks unveiled instability, and his hair was labelled “coarse”. However, after transitioning to a plant based diet, Peanut’s owner had seen incremental improvements in Pomeranian’s overall health conditions. In addition, one of the world’s longest-living dogs, Bramble, lived to a healthy 27 years old. She stayed active throughout her entire life and yes, she was a vegan dog.
How to Transition to a Vegan Diet for Dogs?
It is best and easiest to begin the transition early on in their life. However, newborn puppies should not have a vegan diet as they need their mother’s milk and proteins to develop a healthy immune system. When you choose to adopt a vegan diet, be sure that your dog is getting enough non-meat protein, L-carnitine, and taurine in their diet. Vegan dog supplements that provide this essential nutrition can come in handy in this case.
When changing your dog’s diet you will also want to do so slowly. For example, slowly integrating vegan food into your dog’s current meat-based food. If you switch food sources too quickly, your dog may reject the new vegan food just because they are not used to it. It is recommended to mix 25% new food with 75% of the old food for a few days, then mix 50% old food with 50% new food for a few days, and then 25% old food with 75% new food for a few more days before feeding all new food. Experiment and take notes of your dog’s responses to the dietary changes. The packaging of your vegan dog food should also have its own recommendations.
Dogs also need a significant amount of protein intake in comparison to humans. Some good vegan protein sources for your canine companions are beans, peas, lentils, soy and tofu. A vegan dog diet should contain 20-30% protein and 10-14% fat in dry matter. Otherwise, 30-60% protein if you include carbs, or about 80% protein on a carb-free diet. Dogs need about 1/2 teaspoon of fat per 10 pounds of body weight daily. This could come in either flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, sunflower oil, olive oil, avocados, almonds, or seeds.
Dogs can have about 20-45% carbs (rice, couscous, millet, pasta, potato, rolled oats, barley, yams, etc). Since dogs have a much shorter digestive tract, they can have difficulty digesting grain, or excess grain. It is important to watch out if your dogs have diabetes or cancer and avoid feeding them grains. Potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) are better sources of carbs than grains.
What to Feed Your Dogs on a Vegan Diet?
vpets also offer a range of vegan dog supplements that can help your dog thrive on a home-cooked vegan diet by adding additional nutrients such as amino acids and L-carnitine.
A dog’s digestive tract is much shorter than that of a herbivore, making it harder for them to digest chunks of vegetables. The best way to make the most of fruits and vegetables’ nutrition is to be sure the food is processed well. This could be either shredding, pureeing, very finely chopping or steaming the food.
Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens) are not only good for humans but also are very beneficial for our canine friends. Similarly, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, yams and beans and other veggies are full of nutrients. Dogs also benefit from fruits such as bananas, apples and watermelon. However, it is important to keep in mind that the combination of fruits and high protein food can cause indigestion and give your pet an upset tummy.
If cooking is not for you, the most convenient option would be to purchase commercial vegan dog food. These come in a combination of both dry and wet vegan dog food that is nutritionally complete.
It’s important not to forget your dog’s dental health! Chew toys and chewing treats are ways to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Large raw carrots, kale stems or broccoli stalks are great vegan alternatives to normal chewing bones. Vegan alternatives to normal dog treats are also available. Check out vpets’ range of vegan dog treats to explore your options!
The Benefits of a Plant Based Diet for Dogs
A vegan diet for dogs can bring health benefits such as the following:
- Dental health (teeth & gums)
- Reduced eye discharge
- Softer and shinier hair
- Relief of allergy and itch
- Improved digestive health
- Higher energy levels
- Reduced joint pain
- Increased mobility
- Greater longevity
- Reduced skin issues
- Weight management
Here at vpets, we source for high-quality vegan dog food, vegan supplements and vegan dog treats that are thoroughly tested and tasty to help your dog thrive on a vegan diet.
While the process of transitioning to a vegan diet may seem complicated and challenging at first, it has health benefits that can help your canine companions live an enriched life without causing suffering to other animals.
A twice-yearly health check-up and blood test should be done to ensure your dog is in great health. Your vet may be surprised at the healthy blood test results if they still belong to the “dogs need meat” school of thought.