As vets who take an interest in unusual diets, we often get asked if dogs can be vegan. The answer is yes.
This might come as a surprise for those who’ve seen my support of raw meat-based dog diets. How can two opposite diets both be OK? The answer is in the adaptability of dogs.
I won’t bore you again about the dietary differences between dogs and wolves. Let’s get straight on with the diets.
Problems With Vegan Dog Diets
So if dogs can be vegans, is it easy to do it? Certainly not. There are still at least four reasons why you need expert help in making a vegan dog diet:
- Vitamin B12 is very hard to get from vegetable sources alone
- Plant proteins have a lower biologic value and digestibility
- Amino acids like methionine and taurine can be deficient in plants
- Calcium levels are often too low
So let’s talk about safe vegan diets for dogs!
Vegan Diet Plan 1: Commercial
This is so easy, it’s cheating. There are at least two vegan pet foods available to purchase online in Australia. BIOpet is made in Australia and whereas V-Dog is made in the USA.
I have no personal experience with each. Both should do what they say on the packet: provide a complete and balanced diet.
Vegan Diet Plan 2: Homemade
I imagine most vegans would like to know what goes into their dog’s food. That’s why we commissioned a vegan diet from specialist veterinary nutritionists. It has been made with great care for both safety and taste. It’s even grain-free!
I think it’s awesome but I’m only sorry that I can’t publish it online. It may be hazardous for all but healthy adult dogs. If you want to use it, there are two choices:
- Come in for a checkup. As long as your dog is suitable we will supply a tailored version.
- If you don’t live locally, ask your vet about getting the same thing done in your clinic. You can get your vets to contact us to see who we used.
What about special snacks for dogs? There are quite a lot you can choose from. We sell Veggie Ears that look spookily like the real thing and dogs love them. However, there are plenty of other options out there.
What about my pet obsession, raw bones. You already know how much I value these for dental care and enjoyment in dogs, but they certainly aren’t vegan. However, they are a waste product of the meat industry.
Therefore, if your reason for having a vegan dog is to reduce animal deaths, bones should be a (nearly) guilt-free purchase. This is only my justification of course!
Other Vegan Pets
If you’re still deciding on a pet, what about a rabbit? They come vegan right out of the box and are just as fun to have around. Search our site for lots of rabbit-friendly info.
Vegan cats are another story. This species cannot be vegan until someone formulates a balanced diet. If you try to feed a vegan diet to cats, they usually die.
Once again, my obsession and a bit of unholy compromise might come to the rescue. Chicken necks are close to a natural diet for a cat and are as much a waste product as bones.
Necks of course alone won’t be enough, but they could be a start. If you get a nutritionist to build a diet around them you should at least have a kill-free diet, even if not meat-free.
Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on Facebook and Twitter. Like or follow our page or subscribe via email to read the latest.