Before everyone pops off at the handle, I’m not saying everyone’s dog should be vegan. I’m not saying you’re not vegan if your dogs not vegan or you’re an awful person or cruel if your dogs not vegan- I’m giving straight facts and that’s it. My dog isn’t vegan, but I know a lot of healthy happy vegan dogs. But I won’t even put my opinion on vegan dogs in this article; just if and why or why not they can or can’t go vegan according to scientific research. And I know there is a lot of controversy.
I’ve seen a lot of people and some vegans saying you’re an animal abuser if your dog is vegan. I don’t think anything could be farther from the truth. People think that if your dog is plant based you’re pushing your lifestyle on them and depriving them of nutrients and their natural lifestyle (because I guess wolves ate kibble in the wild). I don’t think unless you feed your dog a homemade diet of fresh organic meat that you should have any kind of say in who’s dogs diet is unnatural. Much less if you feed your dog brands like Kibbles N Bits, Purina, ect. all those brands made of the most awful disgusting and harmful ingredients including other euthanized dogs, plastic and dog trash that’s causing canine seizures.
If anyone is abusing their dog with their diet, it’s people that don’t check the quality of their dog food brands.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. I would like to start by saying that dogs are scientifically able to go vegan. In fact, a blue merle collie- Bramble the vegan dog lived to be 27 years old (That’s 189 dog years!).
He held the Guinness world record for worlds oldest dog that the time for it! Bramble was a vegan dog that lived on a diet of organic vegetables and lentils. He was raised vegan, too.
If that wasn’t enough for you, there is actual research on this.
For dogs, certainly vegetarian and vegan diets can be done, but they need to be done very, very carefully. There is a lot of room for error.
– Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dogs can be healthy and in fact, thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as all necessary nutrient requirements are met. Dogs are biologically omnivorous, but can adapt well to a plant-based diet which meets all their nutritional needs. It’s important that the food be digested easily as well as have good palatability. The transition to a plant-based diet should be a gradual change (mixing the 2 foods in different proportions until the new food is given exclusively) to minimize the occurrence of gastrointestinal disturbances (such as diarrhea and sometimes vomiting).
– Armaiti May, D.V.M, C.V.A., Dr. May’s Veterinary House Calls
Now, if this makes you want to introduce your companion animal to a vegan diet- please read up. Dogs have complex nutritional requirements that not enough people pay attention to. There are reasons why you may want to feed your dog vegan including- not wanting to contribute to the animal agriculture industry, trying to reverse a sickness in your dog, wanting to avoid BSE. If that’s what you want to do, go for it! But it’s risky. There are many books on it, and you can easily research what nutrients you need to supplement into your dogs diet.
Hazards posed by meat-based diets
The health hazards of commercial meat-based pet foods are extensive, and difficult to avoid. They may include slaughterhouse waste products; 4-D meat (from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals); old or spoiled supermarket meat; large numbers of rendered dogs and cats from animal shelters; old restaurant grease, complete with high concentrations of dangerous free radicals and trans fatty acids; damaged or spoiled fish, complete with dangerous levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxins; pathogenic bacteria, protozoa, viruses, fungi and prions, and their associated endotoxins and mycotoxins; hormone and antibiotic residues; and dangerous preservatives. The combined results are rendered so delicious to cats and dogs by the addition of ‘digest’ – a soup of partially dissolved chicken entrails – that more than 95% of companion animals subsist primarily on commercial meat-based diets.
Unsurprisingly, diseases described in the scientific literature following long-term maintenance of cats and dogs on commercial meat-based diets include kidney, liver, heart, neurologic, eye, muscoloskeletal and skin diseases, bleeding disorders, birth defects, immunocompromisation and infectious diseases. As a practicing veterinarian I agree that so-called degenerative diseases such as cancer, kidney, liver and heart failure are far more common than they should be, and that many are likely to be exacerbated or directly caused by the numerous hazardous ingredients of commercial meat-based cat and dog diets.
Vegetarian diets: a healthy alternative
On the other hand, studies and numerous case reports have shown that nutritionally sound vegetarian companion animal diets appear to be associated with the following health benefits: increased overall health and vitality, decreased incidences of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism, ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites), improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, arthritis regression, diabetes regression and cataract resolution.
– Andrew Knight, veterinarian, BSc.. CertAW, MRCVS.