Vegan Dog Food: Can Dogs Be Vegan?
Veganism and plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular amongst humans, and the trend is only expected to continue. It’s estimated that 6-8% of people in the United States are vegans. For instance, six years ago barely 1% of people in the US were vegans. Now that the vegan community has become well-established, and is no longer looked at as a fad, it’s only natural that some people would wonder about vegan food for their dogs. Vegan dog food is a controversial topic, but we will use this article to explain everything about it and recommend some of the best vegan dog foods currently available.
Dogs and Veganism
Vegan dog food is a topic that people will never agree on completely. Some people insist that dogs need meat to be healthy, and extremists claim that a diet of 100% meat is the best option for a dog. On the other side, passionate vegans and animal rights organizations argue that a vegan diet is perfectly normal for dogs, and that it can even improve health, as it does in humans. While neither extreme end of the argument is completely correct, each has valid points, which we will address below.
What Veganism Is?
Even the definition of veganism depends on who you ask, especially these days. To some people, being vegan means not eating direct animal products, like:
- Other dairy products
To others, foods are also off-limits if they contain other “animal products”, like:
- Animal-based dyes
- Sugar processed with bone char
However, when it comes to vegan dog food, we can use the simplest definition: vegan dog food is dog food that doesn’t contain meat, dairy, or eggs.
Why Dogs Can Be Vegan?
Dogs are classified by nearly all modern scientists as omnivores, just like humans. Omnivores can eat both animals and plants (unlike carnivores, which eat only animals, and herbivores, which eat only plants). The digestive systems of omnivores allow them to effectively break down and utilize nutrients from animal-based foods and plant-based foods, although there are some limits. This makes sense when you consider the fact that dogs have been living alongside humans for about 15,000 years, and for much of that time, they were fed scraps from human meals; their diets have evolved along with ours, so that they can eat many of the same things we can. And, just like us, they could survive by eating either animal foods or plant foods alone.
When to Choose Vegan Dog Food?
We know that many people want their dogs to be vegan because they are vegan themselves. While we understand the sentiment behind this, a vegan diet is not fit for every dog. If you are considering feeding your dog vegan food for ethical reasons, consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions.
Some dogs, although not many, have to eat vegan food for medical reasons. Dogs with very sensitive stomachs or many allergies to meats and other animal products might be much better off eating vegan dog food, which won’t contain anything they are sensitive to.
How to Have a Healthy Vegan Dog?
It is possible to feed your dog vegan food without compromising their health — in fact, for some dogs, vegan food is necessary for their health — but there are many things to keep in mind if you want to do it right. The first step, as always, is to consult your dog’s veterinarian. You should ensure your dog is getting important nutrients, even if they come from plant sources.
A common problem that occurs when switching from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet, for dogs and humans alike, is protein deficiency. Meat is, on average, the most protein-dense type of food that exists, so a diet that contains meat is rarely deficient in protein. Even though plants, like vegetables and legumes, can also contain a lot of protein, most people don’t know which plants are high in protein and which ones are not. As a result, they don’t know what ingredients to include in a vegan diet to supply the necessary protein. Your veterinarian will be able to suggest a vegan protein source that is safe for dogs.
Most of the important micronutrients in a dog’s diet come from vegetables, so they are also a key ingredient. If you are making your own vegan dog food, make sure that the vegetables you use are safe for dogs, as some vegetables that humans eat can be dangerous for our furry friends. Some great vegetables to include in your dog’s diet are:
- Brussel sprouts
- Bell peppers
If you are buying commercial vegan dog food, then any of the included vegetables will be safe, so just check that your dog isn’t sensitive to any of them before switching their food.
Due to recent diet trends, many people have come to falsely believe that grains are unhealthy, and that they should limit grain consumption for themselves and their pets. In fact, as long as there is no allergy or sensitivity to grains, whole grains are an important part of anyone’s diet, including our dogs! Grain-free dog food has even been linked to an increased risk of heart failure, so make sure that healthy whole grains are in your dog’s vegan food to keep their heart healthy.
Although all essential micronutrients can be found in a vegan diet, some vitamins are much easier to find in meat. Just like protein, these vitamins are often neglected in a vegan diet, because people don’t know where to get them without meat. The B and D vitamins are the ones that vegan dogs are most likely to miss. Both commercial foods and homemade foods should contain an appropriate micronutrient blend to ensure that your dog isn’t missing any important vitamins.
Read the ingredients list on commercial food, and look for vitamin and mineral blends from trusted dog food companies when making your own.
Vegan dog food, although many people disagree with its idea, can be necessary for some dogs with food allergies or sensitivities. Even dogs without allergies can safely eat a vegan diet, as long as all of the essential nutrients are hit in the correct amounts. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what that means and what to look out for. Check out our reviews for the best dog foods, and lots of other pet products, to supply your furry friends with what they need for a happy, healthy life.
Where can you buy vegan dog food?
You should probably avoid buying vegan dog food from the stores from which you might have bought other dog food. Vegan dog food is less common, so stores tend to have less of a selection, but it’s important that you have the option to be picky and choose the best vegan food for your pup. We recommend consulting your veterinarian before buying any new foods. If they have any vegan options that they recommend, you may be able to buy your first bag or cans from them, but more of a selection is available online. Once you’ve found a type of vegan dog food that is safe and easy on your dog’s stomach, you can choose recipes, sizes, and amounts of food more easily by buying online.
Is vegan dog food safe?
Not all vegan dog food is safe. Because veganism is so popular, some companies try to cash in on the craze by producing cheap, low-quality vegan food that isn’t nutritionally balanced for dogs. That’s why it’s so important to do research, read reviews like ours, and ask your veterinarian about what kind of vegan food is safe for your dog.
Is vegan dog food healthy?
When designed correctly, by qualified veterinary nutritionists, vegan dog food can be perfectly healthy by qualified veterinary nutritionists. Dogs with meat allergies are likely to be healthier on a vegan diet, as the symptoms caused by their food sensitivities will be reduced or eliminated.
Can dogs eat vegan dog food?
Dogs can eat vegan dog food as long as it is nutritionally balanced and complete. High-quality vegan dog food, contains enough protein and vitamins, and was designed by a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist is ok for dogs to eat. Before changing your dog's diet, always consult your veterinarian about their medical history and nutritional needs.
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