Can you feed dogs a vegan diet? And how can it be implemented in practice? Admittedly, the topic is extremely emotional and can end in heated discussions. Especially if you have hardly dealt with plant-based dog nutrition before. We just rescued a little poodle lady from the killing station in Romania. And I find the idea creepy that dozens of cows, pigs or chickens should give their lives for this little one. In addition, the lust for meat is THE biggest driver of the global warming.
The strictly plant-based Collie dog "Bramble", for example, lived to be over 25 years old and even made it into the Guinness Book of Records with this age. All this is reason enough for me to concern myself with a plant-based diet for our four-legged friends.
In this article I would like to prevent the potential for disputes and possible nutritional problems and give you everything you need to know about the vegan diet for dogs. I will show you whether it is healthy and species-appropriate and which studies prove it. I'll also introduce you to benefits, experiences, recipes and books that you can benefit from directly. Let's go!
Here is in advance a short Overview about the article:
Is it healthy to feed dogs a vegan diet?
It is often heard that the dog descended from the wolf and therefore must necessarily eat meat. But the split from the wolf has already taken place more than 30,000 years ago.₂ The dog today has little in common with the wolf and has evolved adapted to our diet in the course of domestication. In the past, he rarely got meat from us humans but mostly the vegetable remains of our meals. In this respect, dogs have evolved in an evolutionary niche dependent on humans and had to be able to metabolize plant foods better.₃ The digestive tract of the dog is therefore also trained to break down plant starch. There are even studies that show that the dog's intestinal flora is now more similar to that of humans than that of wolves.₁
So dogs are no longer wolves. And there is no scientific reason why a diet composed of plants, minerals and synthetic substances cannot be put together to meet the needs of each species.₄ So a healthy, vegan diet for dogs is possible.
Is it species-appropriate to feed dogs a vegan diet?
It is often said that a plant-based dog diet. unnatural and not appropriate for the species be. However, a look at the meat-heavy dog food offered in tin cans is also far from natural. Which, by the way, also applies to our entire way of life.
"But isn't it Cruelty to animals if you force the dog to eat vegan food?", many people then ask. There is no question of forcing if the dog eats the food. The dog must like it and be healthy with it. That is the most important thing - and that is possible vegan. The dog doesn't care what's in it - but we as dog owners have to make sure that the food contains the nutrients it needs. If everything is in it, which needs a dog, would be accordingly also a vegan complete food as kind-fair to regard. Nutritional physiologists and veterinarians confirm that this is quite possible.₅
Important: Just because a food is plant-based doesn't mean it's healthy for your dog! Grapes, for example, are poison for your four-legged friend. Here you will find a list of Food that dogs are not allowed to eat.
What is BaRfen?
Under BARFing (Born Again Raw Feeders) one understands a biologically kind-fair raw feeding which is put on to the wolf. Raw meat, bones and Offal - to be as close as possible to a natural prey animal in the percentage composition of the diet. However, studies show that most BARF rations are not balanced are. Therefore, supplementation is also necessary when feeding BARF. A pure meat diet does not make the dog healthy either. Even the wolf did not eat meat exclusively in the past.₆
Studies on pure vegetable diet for dogs
Fortunately, there are dozens of studies that have already looked closely at plant-based diets for dogs. Here I have compiled an overview of the most important works:
- Pia Gloria Semp (2014): VEGAN NUTRITION OF DOGS AND CATS
- Wendy Brown, Barbara A. Vanselow, Andrew J. Redmann, John R. Pluske (2009): An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs.
- EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Study reveals raw-type dog foods as a major source of multidrug-resistant bacteria that could potentially colonize humans
- Andrew Knight, Madelaine Leitsberger (2016): Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals
- Guo-dong Wang, Weiwei Zhai, He-chuan Yang et al (2013): The genomics of selection in dogs and the parallel evolution between dogs and humans
- Erik Axelsson, Abhirami Ratnakumar, Maja-Louise Arendt et al (2013): The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet
- Natália Kovalkovičová, Irena Sutiaková, Juraj Pistl (2009): Some food toxic for pets
- Gregory S. Okin (2017): Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats
The reasons for vegan dog food
So we know that it is possible to set up a healthy and species-appropriate vegan diet for dogs without any problems. Then we can now look at the ethical and ecological motives that speak in favor of feeding dogs a vegan diet.
Personally, I would like not only my dog, but also all animals are well. And that's why I want to avoid that other animals have to end up as food for my dog. Why should we torture dozens of cows, pigs or chickens and feed them to our four-legged friends when it is absolutely not necessary?
In addition, we know that the resource-intensive Factory farming essential to the biggest environmental problems of our timesuch as climate change and the Deforestation of the rainforests contributes. Dogs and cats in the USA alone account for around 30 percent of meat consumption there. If they all lived in one country, they would be among the top five meat consumers in the world behind Russia, Brazil, China and the U.S.₇ In this way, pets contribute significantly to the environmental impact of Western society.
In order to eliminate these grievances, as with our own diet, it takes a Rethinking the diet for dogs. Animal food and feed must again become something extraordinary, special because rare. But with the current meat mania in dog nutrition we are from the sustainable attitude of dogs far away.
Here's what you should look for in a plant-based diet for dogs
Dogs do not require certain foods - but like us humans, they do require certain nutrients. To meet these needs, we can rely on a combination of ready-made food, home-cooked meals and supplementation. Here I present you the most important tips based on my experience. However, I strongly advise you to also still take the Obtain recommendations from nutritionists and veterinarians. But try to find out whether your counterpart has really dealt with the vegan diet and is not throwing around dangerous half-knowledge.
It is necessary to ensure that your dog gets all the vital nutrients in sufficient quantity and quality. Here you will first get a brief overview of what is important in healthy dog nutrition:
- Proteins (+ Amino acids)
- Trace elements
Unfortunately, manufacturers are increasingly mixing inferior but profit-increasing ingredients such as flavor enhancers and sugar with the essentials. If you want to feed dogs a vegan diet, avoid these as much as possible.
Ready made food
Vegan ready-made food is available in a wide variety of colors and forms as dry and wet food. On the Internet, you will currently find even faster than in the pet supplies assortment of the retail trade. With the purchase are to be taken to heart in any case some notes and Tipps, which I would like to give you here still with on the way:
- Complete feed: This term should be on the back of vegan ready-made food! It means that all important nutrients and no other additives are included.
- Vegdog: A great place to start is the Vegdog dog food*. There are the most diverse compositions of potatoes, lentils, millet, pea protein, spinach, carrots and dozens of other vegetable ingredients.
- Variety: Your four-legged friend also needs variety in the bowl for a healthy diet. Be careful not to feed the same food all the time for convenience, so that the diet does not become too one-sided.
- Find out drinking type: Consuming enough fluids is also extremely important for dogs. Observe how your dog prefers to take in water. For example, from a hose or from a bowl? If necessary, you can also soften the dry food with a little water to increase your dog's fluid balance.
You can also easily cook treats and meals yourself. A variety of foods that you would eat yourself are suitable for this. For example, rice, carrots, apples or pears. Especially acid-forming foods, such as peas, lentils, oats, corn, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and yeast are important components of the vegan dog diet.
Here's some more inspiration.
- Carbohydrates: Rice, pasta, potatoes
- Proteins: Soy products (very good amino acid sequence), chickpeas, tofu, lentils, peas, beans.
- Vegetables: Zucchini, carrot
- Fats: No olive oil! Rather alternate between safflower oil, hemp oil, rapeseed oil and linseed oil.
- Amino acids (Supplement taurine and L-carnithine if they are not included in the vegan ready-made food).
Supplementation of certain nutrients is recommended when needed. In the future, more and more foods will be produced that can meet the nutritional needs of dogs without any fortification. By the way, fortification of dog food with minerals and vitamins is common for both plant-based and meat-based dog food.
One more thing: The dog's organism has a need for proteins, more precisely for amino acids - and not for meat per se. Amino acids are mainly found in plants and can also be produced synthetically. Therefore, as a dog owner, you do not have to worry about a possible protein deficiency in your four-legged friend.₈
But your dog should not get these plant foods
Not every food that is part of our own meals is suitable for animals. According to a detailed study₉, the following foods can have a more or less toxic effect on dogs and cats and should therefore be avoided:
- Bread dough
- Macadamia nuts
- Xylitol (is found in vitamin B12 tablets, among other things, so never administer the preparation intended for humans).
- Drinks containing caffeine and alcohol
Can you think of any other foods of concern? Then feel free to write me your hints and justifications in the comments!
I strongly advise you to keep your dog regular Blood controls and Health checks to the veterinarian. Many mistakes can happen when changing the diet. Through the tests you ensure that possible misinformation does not have serious consequences. At the same time, you learn even more about the plant-based diet of dogs and can optimize it specifically.
Especially for Diseases the dog's diet and the right composition of the food are extremely important. In such cases, informing beginners or "switchers" has top priority. Among the respective special feeds, there are still few vegan alternatives. I advise you then to Nutritional counseling and meal plans specially designed for the well-being of your dog.
The best books about vegan dog nutrition
Finally, I would like to recommend you two books that will give you a comprehensive knowledge of plant-based dog nutrition:
- Nutrition of the dog: Basics - Feeding - Dietetics by Jürgen Zentek (you get here*)
- 1 x 1 of dog nutrition by Friedmar Krautwurst (you get here*)
You know of other recommended books? Then feel free to share them with me and all readers in the comments too!
So can you feed dogs a vegan diet without hesitation?
Studies have confirmed that the organism of the dog has no need for certain foods, but for certain nutrients. And this nutritional need can be met by a plant-based dog diet. Dogs are descended from the carnivorous wolf, but today their digestive tract is more similar to humans than to wolves. The dog has adapted to our diet and does not attack cattle or deer when it sees them. He gets his food from a plastic can and, like us humans, is not a carnivore.
Today it is possible to feed a dog vegan without any problems. No other animals have to die and we don't have to pollute the environment - so what's wrong with at least trying it out? From my own experience, I advise you to make the change slowly and not too abruptly. For example, start with 1-2 veggie days and then steadily reduced the proportion of animal components in the feed a little more.
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Then feel free to write me a comment!
Stay pet friendly,
PS: I know the topic can quickly boil up. If you are rather against the vegan dog diet, you can read in the article "Why live vegan" once again call the deeper motives of vegans before eyes, which make so some everyday discussion still clearly more emotional.
₁ Joachim Czichos: Gut flora of humans and dogs: more similar than thought (as of 19.04.2018), https://t1p.de/bc2h. [31.03.2021].
₂ Guo-dong Wang, Weiwei Zhai, He-chuan Yang, et al: The genomics of selection in dogs and the parallel evolution between dogs and humans, https://t1p.de/p092. [31.03.2021].
₃ Niko Rittenau: "Vegan dog nutrition is sheer nonsense!" - Dog trainer Martin Rütter reaction video, YouTube, 30.09.2020, web, 29.03.2021 at 08:50, in: http://y2u.be/ScIhG7jMuiM.
₄ Andrew Knight, Madelaine Leitsberger: Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals, https://t1p.de/zvxy. [31.03.2021].
₅ Ralph Rückert: Feeding dogs vegan: Immediately bring to report or think about it first? (Accessed Sept. 23, 2018), https://t1p.de/4icm. [31.03.2021].
₆ Vegan is Unhealthy: ANIMAL SOURCE: VEGAN DOG FOOD! Veterinarian Explains, YouTube, 06/14/2018, web, 03/29/2021 at 08:59, in: http://y2u.be/p7k8ISUh6bo.
₇ Gregory S Okin (2017): Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats, https://t1p.de/ti0i. [31.03.2021].
₈ Pia-Gloria Semp (2014): VEGAN NUTRITION OF DOGS AND CATS, https://t1p.de/n1nb. [31.03.2021].
₉ Natália Kovalkovičová, Irena Sutiaková, Juraj Pistl: Some food toxic for pets, https://t1p.de/c1e8. [31.03.2021].