More people are going vegan and for good reason. According to research, a balanced plant-based diet contributes to a healthy body and it can also help prevent diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’re a dog parent, you may be wondering if a vegan diet provides the same benefits to your pup. You might even be at a point where you feel it’s time you switched your meat loving pup to a vegan diet.
But before you take the plunge, read on and find out if a plant-based diet is good for your pooch.
Photo by Vegan Liftz
Are Dogs Carnivorous Or Omnivorous?
The switch to a vegan diet for your dog comes down to the question if your pet is carnivore or omnivore.
According to the American Kennel Club, all dogs are descendants of the grey wolf.
However, due to domestication, dogs have developed different metabolism and digestion systems that allow them to be classified as omnivores.
What this means is that for dogs to thrive, they need to eat a healthy omnivore diet. A balanced omnivore diet contains both meat and plant foods.
Can Dogs Go Vegan?
The short answer to this question is yes. Just like humans, dogs can survive without meat.
In fact, according to a recent study done by researchers from the University of Winchester, a nutritionally healthy vegan diet may be the healthiest and least harmful to your pet.
Other known benefits of a vegan diet for dogs include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties that lead to fewer joint and bone issues
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Perfect for dogs who are sensitive and allergic to animal proteins
- Safer than highly processed meat based foods such as pepperoni which contains many unsafe additives, seasonings, and preservatives
- Reduced tooth decay and smell in dog eliminations
- Easily digestible
Are There Downsides Of Feeding My Dog A Vegan Diet?
According to Dr. Jerry Klein, the AKC chief veterinary officer, dogs who eat plant-based foods need to be fed a healthy and balanced vegan diet.
Unfortunately, it’s very common to find dogs who are on a vegetarian diet suffering from protein and vitamin deficiency due to a lack of proper nutrients.
Other potential problems your pet may suffer from due to a poor vegan diet include:
- Low protein levels due to lack of meat. Recommended protein levels vary according to your dog’s size, age, breed, and activity level
- Amino acid imbalance, which can cause heart problems, reduced growth, anorexia, and anaemia among other issues
- Mineral deficiency as minerals such as iron, calcium and phosphorous are mostly found in meat and other animal proteins
Should My Dog Go Vegan?
Most vets advise pet parents to stick to serving their dogs a balanced diet made up of both animal and plant foods.
However, in some instances, you may be forced to serve your pet a strictly plant-based diet.
For instance, if your pet is allergic to most animal foods, you may need to serve them a balanced vegan diet. In such a case, you need to work closely with your vet to ensure your pooch gets all the nutrients they need.
Other pet parents switch to a vegan diet due to personal ethics.
If as a pet parent you don’t relish the idea of serving your dog lots of meat, we advise that instead of eliminating meat, add small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables to your dog’s meals.
Alternatively, consider giving your pet vegan snacks to supplement their omnivorous diet. The good news is that there are commercially available vegan snacks that are made from quality and nutritious ingredients.
Take the case of the Chippin vegan dog treat which is made of carrots, flaxseeds, and spirulina- a healthy alga that contains proteins and 10 essential amino acids. This healthy treat is perfect for a dog with allergies and a sensitive stomach. Besides, this all-natural superfood is perfect for dogs of all sizes and breeds.
What Foods Should You Include in Your Dog’s Vegan Diet?
If you decide to switch your pet to a plant-based diet, be aware that not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your dog.
For instance, foods such as avocado, grapes, cherries, unripe tomatoes, raw potatoes and onions and garlic are all unsafe for your pet.
Also, when giving your dog fruits, give them in small portions as most fruits contain fructose, a sugar that is hard to digest for most dogs.
Notable vegan-friendly foods you can include in your dog’s diet include:
- Pear slices
- Apple slices
- Dark leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach
- A couple of raspberries, blueberries or strawberries
- A few chunks of watermelon
While dogs can thrive on a nutritious vegan diet, most pet parents are unable to come up with a balanced homemade vegan diet for their pets.
It’s important to know that you can give your dog nutritious sound vegan diets sourced from reputable dog food companies such as Chippin, Ami, Wild Earth, The pack, and Bramble among others.
In closing, a dog can thrive on a vegan diet.
However, the switch to a plant-based diet needs to be done carefully and after a lot of research. You also need to consult with your vet so they can guide you if this is the best diet for your pup.
Written by Lisa Peterson