Your dog can be vegan!

Yes, your dog can be a vegan! When it comes to diet there are three kinds of animals: carnivores that subsist on meat, such as cats, herbivores that subsist on plant foods such as horses, and omnivores that can subsist just fine on either on meat or plant foods such as dogs. Therefore, dogs can do just fine on a vegan diet and they can be even healthier than on a meat diet.

The domestication of dogs resulted in increased levels of enzymes especially designed to digest plant food and this has led to the classification of dogs as omnivores. Reinforcing this, a study looked at the effect of a vegan diet on 12 Siberian huskies involved in sprint-racing.  For 16 weeks, they fed six of them a meat-based commercial diet recommended for active dogs, and the other six a meat-free diet formulated to the same nutrient specifications.  Health checks were conducted by a veterinarian who didn’t know which diet each dog was fed. All dogs were assessed as being in excellent physical condition and none developed anemia or other detectable health problems.

The best example of how a vegan diet can enable a dog to remain healthy is Bramble, a border collie that lived to be just over 25 years old – the equivalent of 189 in dog years.  My own 60lb dog, Tobey, has been eating vegan dog food for just a couple of years, but he’s still going strong at age 15.

While there’s no question that dogs can do well on a meat-based diet as well, there are risks involved with feeding a dog meat. The source of ingredients for commercial dog food is often meat scraps from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals, so there are potential health hazards to the animals that consume it.

A study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine showed the public health risk of raw meat pet food diets. Dr. Reimschuessel explains that the study “identified a potential health risk for the pets eating the raw food, and for the owners handling the product.” Owners who feed their pet a raw meat diet may have a higher risk of getting infected with bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

Of course, the other reason to consider vegan dog food, just like vegan human food, is to reduce the demand for animal products which cause so much environmental damage, including deforestation, ocean dead zones and increasing global warming.   Plant-based foods have a lower impact on the planet, and harm fewer animals, whether the food is for us or our pets.

There are several vegan dog food brands available, but some brands are better quality than others.  V-dog is a particularly good brand that has been featured at Vegfest in the past. The company claims its vegan kibble is ‘nutritionally complete’ for pooches. Its ingredients include flaxseeds, oats, rice, pea protein, quinoa and vitamin B12. On V-Dog’s website there are many testimonials of dogs living long and healthy lives on vegan dog food.