The popularity for the vegan lifestyle is growing. More and more people are joining Veganuary (artificial word for vegan and January), regularly integrating vegan dishes into their everyday lives or eating a completely plant-based diet. Thereby also the question comes up about the nutrition of our domestic animals. Is it possible to feed the dog vegan or must be waste from the slaughter industry? Is this also on your mind? Then take a closer look at the facts, advantages and disadvantages on the subject of vegan nutrition for dogs in our guide.
Can dogs be fed a vegan diet?
Unlike cats, dogs are not pure carnivores (meat eaters). In the course of domestication, the mainly carnivorous wolf ate what humans offered him (or left at the prehistoric campfire) and gradually transformed into an omnivorous dog. Dogs thus obtain nutrients from plant and animal foods. A purely meat-based diet is considered inappropriate for dogs. Experts refer to the dog as a carnivorous omnivore.
When feeding dogs a purely plant-based diet, it is important that the vegan food is properly composed of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins. There should be no deficiency symptoms as a result of the change in feeding. For example, it can happen quickly with the purely vegetable feeding that the dog is too little supplied with B vitamins. It is also important that you feed your dog protein with a good biological value, so that his metabolism functions well. Dogs utilize animal proteins better than, for example, vegetable protein from cereals.
How to feed a dog vegan?
Vegan dog food is free of meat, fish, and ingredients of animal origin, such as eggs, cream cheese, or cottage cheese. Instead, it consists of fruits and vegetables such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or green peas. A good vegan dog food contains all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements a dog needs to be nutritionally optimal.
If you want to feed your dog only vegetarian, you do not give him meat to eat, but eggs or dairy products such as curd as food from animal food sources are allowed in the dog food bowl. With this you cover a large part of his need for protein (proteins). In the vegan diet, you switch to alternative protein sources such as soy products, legumes or nuts.
In both vegetarian and vegan diets, you also feed your dog carbohydrates such as preparations made from wheat, rice or oats. This will cover his energy needs. You also supplement his food with vegetable oils, vegetables and fruit. You can optimize its mineral and vitamin balance with dietary supplements.
For a long time, vegan food for dogs was a decidedly niche product, produced by only a few manufacturers. Now, more and more major brands are offering vegan food alongside their conventional meat-heavy pouches, cans and bowls. Both dry food and wet food are now available vegan.
Why should you feed your dog vegan?
One reason to feed your dog vegan may be an allergy to his previous dog food. Some allergic dogs tolerate vegan food better than conventional food.
You may want to feed your dog vegan for ethical reasons. You do not want to accept the conditions under which farm animals have to live in factory farming. If you use only vegan food, you do a lot for animal welfare and climate protection.
When considering animal welfare, however, you cannot avoid thinking about the Animal Welfare Act. According to the second paragraph of the Animal Welfare Act, you must, among other things, feed your dog appropriately for its species and needs. As a carnivorous omnivore, you should not permanently feed your dog a vegetarian or vegan diet without good reason.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a vegan dog diet?
As a dog owner, you naturally want only the best for your pet. To decide whether to feed your dog vegan, you should know the following advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of vegan dog food
Vegan food is easier to digest. Therefore, some veterinarians recommend a vegan diet for dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestive problems.
Vegan food tends to trigger fewer allergies. Allergies are one of the most common problems with keeping dogs and can often be traced back to the food. If your dog is sensitive to almost all meats or other ingredients in conventional dog food, vegan food may be the solution for you. Vegan food makes weight management easier.
It is estimated that currently about half of all adult dogs in Germany have too much flab on their ribs. Overweight can cause numerous secondary diseases such as diabetes or joint diseases. A plant-emphasized nourishing way works anti-inflammatory – that is considered at least from the scientific research for humans as secured.
Numerous studies prove that the modern, strongly meat-containing nutrition favors it to become ill at cancer, heart cycle problems, stroke or Alzheimer. The ecological footprint of vegan dog food is significantly smaller than that of conventional food. On the one hand, a plant-based diet can save greenhouse gases produced by raising farm animals.
On the other hand, there is a significant water saving. The suffering of animals in factory farming is another aspect that is reduced by choosing pure plant-based food.
Disadvantages of the pure vegetable dog food
If your dog is very fond of eating meat, he may not accept the vegan food.
The nutritional composition of the pure plant-based food can also be problematic. Especially if you make your dog’s meals yourself.
As a dog owner, you need to be well versed in how to make a balanced diet of home-cooked meals over the long term.
Vegan ready-made food usually already provides all the essential nutrients. Puppies and young dogs have increased nutrient requirements because they are growing.
Therefore, you must pay more attention to an age-appropriate and balanced diet for growing animals.
This can be more easily achieved by feeding a mixture of meat and plant-based ingredients. The vegan diet has not yet been sufficiently scientifically studied for dogs.
Vegan dog nutrition – tips for: Converting dog to vegan
If you want to try feeding your dog a vegan diet, you should take the following tips to heart:
Tip #1: Talk to a veterinarian about your plan!
It’s best to have your dog checked for potential illnesses and get advice. Some veterinarians (and human doctors) are skeptical of pure plant-based diets. However, there are doctors who have undergone special training in the field of (vegan) nutrition and are very knowledgeable about nutritional physiology. If your dog is healthy and fit and from a medical point of view nothing speaks against the change of diet, you can start.
Tip #2: Choose a vegan complete food!
If you give your dog a vegan complete feed that has been proven to have all the important nutrients, you are on the safe side. Pet food must be labeled in Germany (and the EU) and all ingredients and nutrients must be listed.
Tip #3: Go slowly when changing your pet’s food!
If you mix the previous dog food and the new vegan food, your dog will get used to the new food more easily. In the beginning, the familiar food should predominate proportionally, so that your dog can slowly get used to the new taste. Gradually you can increase the proportion of the new food.
Tip #4: In the first time (up to two months) pay more attention to how your pet is doing!
How is the amount and consistency of feces? How much energy does your dog have? How is his weight? Is the skin and coat okay or are there any changes? These can be positive or negative. It is helpful for you to keep a kind of diary of your dog’s well-being.
Tip #5: Have a check-up at the vet’s office after some time!
It makes sense to have a check-up at the vet’s office a few months after the change in diet in order to detect any problems early on. In dogs, however, in contrast to cats, there is less danger of deficiencies occurring with a meat-free diet.
It makes sense to have a check-up with the vet a few months after the change in diet in order to detect any problems at an early stage. However, unlike cats, dogs are less likely to suffer from deficiency symptoms on a meat-free diet. Regular blood tests are not mandatory for dogs that are fed a vegan diet, but are strongly recommended for cats.
Conclusion about vegan dog food
You now know the advantages and disadvantages of vegan food for dogs. If you think that the vegan diet could be right for you and your pet, make sure that it is a balanced diet with all nutrients and take things slowly – preferably with veterinary guidance! You must carefully consider feeding your dog a purely vegan diet to avoid nutrient shortages. If you don’t need to permanently switch your dog to a vegan or vegetarian diet for health reasons, but you want to switch foods solely for ethical reasons, consider the following:
As a dog owner, you can also buy meat from animal welfare-friendly livestock farming for your pet. This way you avoid meat from factory farming. This meets both your ethical requirements for the keeping of farm animals and the Animal Welfare Act, according to which you should feed your dog appropriately for its species and needs.
If you want to learn even more about dog nutrition, you can get additional information in our guide “Caution: twenty toxic foods for dogs”. Here you can learn what your dog should never eat.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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