When walking down the dog food aisle of your local pet store, how many brands do you see?
Probably dozens. Yet how many of these are meat-based? Suddenly, the sheer variety of choices in dog food becomes overwhelming! Furthermore, as somebody who cares about their dog’s health, you have probably heard and wondered about vegan diets for dogs. After all, plant-based diets are popular among humans. So, it only makes sense that vegan diets are good for dogs too, right?
Not so fast…
Before deciding to feed green, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Today on vpets, let’s learn all about feeding your pup healthy dog food, whether it is vegan or has a meat component.
Is It Healthy for a Dog to be Vegan?
Pet parents concerned about their dog’s diet have lots of questions. And that’s normal! There is a world of information out there. Vpets is here to be your canine nutrition expert. For example, many folks are curious, “Is a vegan diet actually healthy for my dog?”
As with all things, the answer is complex.
Yes, dogs can survive without meat. However, that doesn’t mean they will be content living off carrots, broccoli, and beans. Likewise, no dog should eat 100% grains. Instead, a healthy dog is one that has all its nutritional requirements met. To understand why this is the case, let’s briefly look at the evolution of the modern dog.
You likely know that dogs are the descendants of ancient wolf ancestors. As dogs evolved alongside humans, they began to eat more grains. In fact, for 7000 years, dogs have been enjoying largely plant-based diets. Even though their gastrointestinal tract is much shorter than those of herbivores (such as cows or horses) dogs have adapted over the millennium to extract nutrients from vegetation.
Nowadays, dogs digest plants very well!
Therefore, a dog can live a healthy life when its diet is nutritionally complete. However, if a vegan diet doesn’t meet their basic nutritional needs (or is too grain-heavy) then no…it is not healthy.
6 Amazing Benefits of Vegan Diets for Dogs
Going meatless comes with many benefits. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not obligate carnivores. That means vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements can fulfil all their nutritional needs if fed correctly.
1. Shinier Coat and Healthy Skin
To start, many pet owners are astounded by the improvement they see in their dog’s fur and skin after switching to vegan dog food. Coats are shinier, thicker, and have less dander.
Secondly, vegan diets are great for dogs with allergies to dairy, egg, chicken, beef, etc. This can result in uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, vomiting, itchiness, and constipation. However, plant-based diets are less likely to trigger allergies.
3. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Does your senior dog suffer from arthritis? For joint and muscle pain, a vegan diet is often recommended to improve arthritis symptoms. Many plants have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Improved Energy Levels are Good for Weight Management
Vegan diets are also great for increasing energy levels, thus helping with weight management. Overweight dogs will benefit from more fruits and veggies and less fatty meats.
5. Less Risk of Developing Disease and Sickness
Next, a huge pro of vegan dog food and dog treats made with plant material is the minimised risk of getting sick. It’s a proven fact that too much meat increases the risk of cancer. Additionally, bacteria (like salmonella and E. coli) can live on raw meat or be present in dead and dying animals. Yuck.
6. Less Stinky Waste
Scooping up doggy poops is part of being a pet parent. Less meat = less stinky poops.
3 Drawbacks of 100% Vegan Diets for Dogs
Now, as beneficial as a vegan diet is, going about it in the wrong way could potentially discourage your dog from adopting it. Never suddenly switch your puppy or dog to a vegan diet without transitioning slowly.
1. Potential for Nutrient Deficiencies
First, a poorly planned vegan diet can result in deficiencies. For example, iron, calcium, phosphorus, amino acids, and B vitamins are more commonly found in animal meat. Regular vet checkups are a must. As are bloodwork and examinations. This will ensure their body is receiving all the required nutrients they need from their food.
2. It Takes Time to Learn About Vegan Dog Food
Don’t forget, that veganism isn’t something that can be learned overnight. It will take serious dedication to read books and blogs, source recipes, understand canine the intricacies of health, and discuss vegan dog diets with your veterinarian. Before taking the plunge, be sure to allocate enough time to truly learn about veganism for dogs.
3. Meal Prep is Time-Consuming
Speaking of time, do you enjoy cooking? What about shopping for groceries? Hopefully, the answer is yes, because those considering a vegan dog diet will spend more time in the kitchen! Unlike kibble (which is processed and poured straight from a bag) vegan meals contain vegetables and fruits that must be washed, chopped, and sometimes cooked or boiled in advance. This means your pup is getting fresh food, but it will take more time to prepare.
There you have it, pooch parents!
A list of pros and cons when it comes to feeding your dog a vegan diet. Remember, your dog relies upon you for their food needs. Treat their health the same way you do your own. Even though dogs are built differently than humans, they still require the same level of care and attention to their diets. That way, they can live long, happy, and healthy lives.