Throughout the ages, our canine companions have thrived on a plant-based diet - a truth often forgotten amidst the modern commercialisation of pet food. For centuries, our ancestors nourished their dogs with plant-based sustenance, until the rise of profit-driven multi conglomerates in the last century propagated the notion that meat is indispensable for canine well-being.
Are you intrigued yet cautious about venturing into the realm of plant-based dog food? Perhaps you're already a proponent of this nourishing choice, but yearn to deepen your understanding and confidently share your views with others. If so, you've come to the right place! In this enlightening blog, we unravel the most frequently asked questions about Vegan dog food, presenting the latest scientific evidence that unequivocally showcases its potential to outshine traditional meat-based diets.
Arming you with knowledge and empowering you to make informed choices, we've curated an invaluable guide - easily printable and shareable with friends and family (scroll to the bottom).
Is a vegan diet suitable for dogs?
Yes, dogs can eat a balanced and nutritious vegan diet. Dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years and have been eating plant-based scraps throughout history. Dogs have enzymes in their mouths that help them digest plant-based foods.
What are the potential benefits of feeding dogs vegan food?
Feeding dogs vegan food can benefit dogs with intolerances to animal proteins. It also makes it easier to find organic options as organic meat can be expensive and hard to find. By choosing a vegan diet, we can reduce the impact on the environment and support sustainable food production.
Are there any risks or drawbacks associated with vegan dog food?
It's important to be careful and ensure that a vegan dog food provides all the necessary nutrients. Some nutrients, like the essential amino acid taurine, may need to be supplemented in a plant-based diet. You can learn more about ensuring that your dog has the healthiest diet in Dr Arielle's canine nutrition course.
How can I ensure that my dog gets all the necessary nutrients on a vegan diet?
Choose recipes, diets, or commercial foods that have been developed by a vet nutritionist or a canine nutritionist. Follow their guidance and ensure that your dog receives the necessary supplements.
Are there specific breeds or dogs with certain health conditions that should not be on a vegan diet?
Currently, there is no research suggesting that any breed or dog cannot thrive on a plant-based or vegan diet. However, lactating bitches, puppies, and working dogs may have specific dietary needs that require adjustments in their plant-based diets. Working with a vet and nutritionists will ensure that your dog's diet is balanced.
Should I consult a veterinarian before switching my dog to a vegan diet?
While you could consult a veterinarian, it's important to note that veterinarians may not have extensive training in canine nutrition. It's recommended to seek advice from a vet nutritionist who specialises in pet nutrition.
What are some reliable vegan dog food brands available in the market?
Look for dog food brands that are formulated by vet nutritionists or canine nutritionists. Ensure that the brands comply with FEDIAF guidelines for nutrition, which ensure the right balance of nutrients.
How do I transition my dog from a traditional diet to a vegan diet?
It's important to transition your dog's diet gradually. Start by mixing 80% of the old food with 20% plant-based food and slowly increase the percentage of plant-based food over a 2-3 week period until your dog is fully on a vegan diet.
Can vegan dog food address or alleviate specific health issues in dogs?
Yes, a vegan diet can help dogs with allergies, skin issues, and digestive problems caused by intolerances to animal proteins. The fresh, plant-based diet provides bioavailable nutrients and supports a healthy gut microbiome, boosting the immune system.
Are there any ethical considerations or environmental benefits associated with vegan dog food?
Choosing vegan dog food helps reduce the environmental impact of meat production, including deforestation and habitat loss. By opting for plant-based diets, we can lessen the strain on natural resources and contribute to a more sustainable future.
What are the protein sources in vegan dog food, and are they sufficient for dogs?
Most plant-based foods contain protein, and specific pulses and grains are particularly rich in protein. Protein powders blended into recipes ensure dogs can easily digest and absorb the nutrients. Commercial dog food labels provide information on protein levels, which should meet FEDIAF guidelines (between 17% and 24% on a dry matter basis).
Are there any potential allergy concerns with vegan dog food ingredients?
While most allergens in dogs are animal-based, some dogs may be allergic to soy and corn, which are common ingredients in vegan dog food. It's important to be aware of any potential allergies or sensitivities your dog may have.
How do I ensure that my dog maintains a healthy weight on a vegan diet?
Regularly monitor your dog's weight to ensure they maintain a healthy balance. Adjust portion sizes and exercise levels accordingly to avoid excess weight gain or loss.
Are there any long-term studies or research on the effects of vegan dog food on dogs?
Yes, there are numerous long-term studies and research available on the effects of vegan dog food. Check them out below :)
Dodd et al. (2022) Vegan dogs showed improved overall health with reduced occurrence of ocular, gastrointestinal, and hepatic disorders. No adverse health effects were observed, and dogs fed vegan diets reportedly had a longer lifespan of approximately 1.5 years compared to those on non-vegan diets.
Knight et al. (2022) The healthiest and least hazardous diets for dogs are nutritionally sound vegan diets.
Cavanaugh et al. (2021) Indicated the health of the dogs was maintained and did not deteriorate after 12 weeks on the vegan diet.
Linde et al. (2023) Findings suggest that the dogs in the study thrived on a vegan diet, demonstrating positive health outcomes and improved nutrient levels over time.
Davies (2022) Significant improvements in various areas, including activity levels, fecal consistency, defecation frequency, flatus frequency, reduction in antisocial smell of flatus, coat glossiness, reduction in dandruff, decrease in skin redness (erythema, inflammation), alleviation of itchiness (scratching; pruritus), and reduction in anxiety.