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Vegan / Vegetarian Discussion - All Things Veg*n Forum

Is anyone raising their dog(s) vegan? I'd love to hear about your experience. I'm thinking about getting a dog but I cringe thinking of all the meat products, raw hide bones, etc. If you have a vegan dog, or tried it and then switched back to regular food, please tell me about your experience.

Did you start her/him on vegan dog food as a puppy? or as adult?
How did she/he make the transition from regular (meat) dog food?
Did you gradually switch from regular to vegan food? If so, over what period of time?
What brand of vegan dog food do you recommend?
Did you try many types of vegan dog food, which did you stick with and why?

Responses (21)

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    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 06/13/14 07:02:59

    An Internet search will give you tons of info on vegan diets for dogs.

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    Posted by DunkiesandDimeys at 06/18/14 13:09:28

    Dogs are carnivores, contrary to popular belief. They have the teeth of a carnivore (not or tiny little eye teeth). They have the digestive tract of a carnivore and are easily able to eat raw meet, as long as their guts aren't filled up with fiber.
    Instead of choosing a vegan diet, I would highly recommend a high-quality kibble (not Iams or Purina but something like Taste of the Wild or Merrick) or even feeding them raw meat (I know it sucks to handle meat.)

    They are direct descendants and a subsepcies of wolf, not a rabbit or cow. Wolves eat meat 99% of the time, since they, too, are carnivores. They don't get sick off of eating raw meat.

    If you want to feed them what's natural for their bodies, choose meat for them. I know it sucks, but it's only responsible to give your dog what their bodies require.

  • StephenS's avatar
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    Posted by StephenS at 06/19/14 19:10:43

    I'm not sure we can say whether Dogs are better at veg or carn or omni diets. The fact is - Dogs that live with Humyns, like the Humyns, are far from natural creatures. So I believe the whole "natural" argument goes out the window when speaking of domesticated beings. I also feel that forcing a diet on any animal makes you just like any other animal abuser or user, you are controlling the animal based on your beliefs and dominion over them.
    But - the real reason I wanted to post was to tell a funny story. When I was in my twenties I spent a lot of time traveling around doing activist work, Redwoods, Anti - Nuclear, Land Rights, Social Justice. I met all kinds of traveler and activist folks all over the place.
    One time I was in Northern California during the heart of the Redwood Summers (as they were called) hanging out with this young traveler couple with their 2 dogs. The Travelers were panhandling and I was rolling joints when this guy comes by and hands the Kids a McDonalds bag. "Thanks Man", the Male Traveler says, "but we're all vegetarian". "No worries guys, give it to the Dogs", the guy replies as he walks off, "Good Luck". The Kid opens the bag and there are 6 quarter pounders. He unwraps them and tosses them down to the dogs who are waiting expectantly. The Dogs dive in, I'm talking scarf man, they were hungry. It takes about half a minute for them to devour their fill and they go back and sit down. We look down, and sitting there in the sidewalk is 6 McDonalds hamburger patties. No buns, no cheese, no lettuce or tomato, no catsup, just the patties. We all laughed and the Kids tried again to give the Dogs the patties, but they weren't havin it. Smart Dogs. Vegetarians, not really, but selective.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by TofuMadness at 06/19/14 23:02:18

    I have two dogs which are currently on vegetarian diets. I began this venture because I just looked at their dry food and thought...could I eat that crap day in and day out? I also had to question how healthy a food could be that was super processed, nutritionally dead and stored in a bag for months.

    They were eating Blue Buffalo dog food, but were drinking tons of water, which the vet said was not normal. They were both also overweight, while only eating normal proportions and no table scraps.

    So, with my Vet on board, I switched to home cooked vegetarian meals. The main foods they like are lentils and quinoa, to which I add different combos of: nutritional yeast, sea vegetables, flax oil, pulp from my vegetable juicing, yams, squash, sometimes broccoli, cauliflower, thinly cut up kale (I use scissors) diatomacious earth, and spirulina ...the list goes on and on as there are many things you can add that are healthy for dogs.

    It has been a journey with two dogs, one who eats everything and the other who is very picky. But, they sit in the kitchen and watch me prepare the food, I talk to them while I'm making up their food and tell them how yummy dinner is going to be and explain all the great things I'm putting in to it .. ok, they don't know what I'm saying, but this is really fun quality time for us.

    Their blood work, urine and stool samples show no signs of any nutritional or health issues, and are down to normal weight but the Vet instructed me to be sure they get their teeth brushed every day since allot of their food is softer than dry dog food. Brushing teeth is not that hard once they get used to it and only takes a few minutes.

    Very Important: You must do the research and learn what it takes to provide healthy meals...and what not to give them! Also, you must supplement their diet with special vitamins for vegan dogs. I have used VegeDog which is sprinkled on the food but they both hate it so I'm currently looking for quality supplements in pill form.

    I strongly disagree that dogs need meat - my own dogs have proven it along with thousands of others. The commercial meat available today is not quality meat, especially as processed and contaminated as it is, nor the kind they would eat if they lived in the wild.
    Wolves eat meat from animals who have also had a natural diet... Bison, elk, deer, and smaller animals (including the skin and hair which contribute to the digestive process)...not from cows that are fed mostly corn. It is nearly impossible to provide the kind of meat that they would have eaten in the wild. You have to look at the whole picture.

    Farm animals live unhealthy, cruel lives - their entire lives, in overcrowded living conditions, are overfed/forcefed (the list goes on and on). My pampered dogs do not require meat that comes from these poor animals and the overproduction of which also causes massive pollution. Not when there better alternatives.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 06/20/14 05:24:34

    A little study in Zoology reveals that canines are actually ominivores whose natural diet is close to the carvnivorous end of the omnivore spectrum. Even cats, who are considered true carnivores, will eat plant foods.

    Humans are also omnivores, but our natural diet is close to the herbivore end of the spectrum. This varies of course by location, climate, etc.

    The difference is that both humans and canines can do well on a vegan diet, but dogs will do fine on a 100% natural meat diet (no processed stuff), while humans do not...

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by happycowgirl at 06/20/14 20:53:32

    StehphenS - your story is fantastic. I love it! : )

    TofuMadness - I can't thank u enough for posting that information. Boy, did your dogs hit the lottery when they found you! In fact, I think they eat a better diet than I do. lol

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by happycowgirl at 06/20/14 20:57:23

    One of our HappyCow members is a vet and I'm trying to find an article she wrote on vegan dogs. I remember her saying that dogs can thrive on vegan diets. I'll do some searching.

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    Posted by happycowgirl at 06/20/14 21:10:15

    Found it! Our member's name is "veganvet" and this is the article she wrote:

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by TofuMadness at 06/21/14 02:03:13

    Thanks for that article from on vegan dogs!

    Cooking for the dogs is extra work but if I'm in a hurry and no time to make myself something, I just eat what they're having, lol.
    I guess the norm in our society is to consider pets as playthings that should be convenient to take care of, but I think of them as family members and care for them as I do for all the other people I love. And, what they give back earns them this proper place in our family.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 06/22/14 04:41:42

    One of my most important teachers was a canine named Jacob, who was at my side from 1972-1986.

    When I met him, I was a meat and dairy consuming, rather uneducated man, whose politics included concern only for other humans. Fourteen years later I was an activist for all animals, not just my own species.

    I had gone from seeing Jacob as a cuddly puppy to realizing he was my equal in many ways, and more faithful and wonderful than I could ever be.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by happycowgirl at 06/22/14 10:35:37

    That is so touching, ahimsa. I love reading your posts. So glad to have you on the forum. Bless Jacob's soul. All pets are wonderful but it sounds like Jacob was one of those very special soul mate type pets. I had a cat like that once. She was litererally my soul mate in feline form. When she died, I wanted to die with her. I thought, wherever you are going dear friend, I'll go with you on your journey and I would have been fine in that moment if the universe had taken me with her. Of course it didn't and my extreme sorrows have healed. But that experience taught me just how intensely a human can bond to a non-human animal.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Bandwitch at 06/24/14 10:21:52

    I know this is hard to hear, but DunkiesandDimeys is right. Even with any supplements you could give a dog, the pancreas of a carnivore does not produce cellulase to split the large amounts of cellulose inherent in a plant based diet into glucose. The pancreas is forced to produce excessive amounts of amylase to process the cellulose, and the extra starch and carbs. This can lead to hyperamylasemia, as well as irritate the bowel lining. The excess starch and sugar that remains in the intestines also act as a breeding ground for bacteria.

    As a fellow vegan, I understand your desire to raise a vegan pet. But this diet is just not suited for dogs. In order to give them their best chance at a long, full, happy, healthy life, their diet must include meat.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by happycowgirl at 11/21/14 15:26:06

    Bandwitch, have you personally experienced dogs who've owners have put them on a vegan diet and the dogs suffered adverse health effects? Otherwise, I have great difficulty buying that. I went to the house of a fellow animal rights activist in another city, both her dogs were vegan and they looked great! I've heard of adverse effects when trying to have a cat (especially male cats) go vegan, but not dogs.

    The arguments "dogs are natural carnivores" reminds me too much of the argument "but humans are natural carnivores and must eat meat."

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 11/23/14 05:52:36


    If you like my posts (thank you), I think you'd like my books.

    "The Weaning of America" and "The First ISM".

    A search for "the first ism" will display my website and email contact. I'd be glad to send you complimentary, updated versions of both those books.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Veginsane at 12/13/14 18:11:56

    Happycowgirl ,

    They make a vegan kibble called v-dog that costs the same as any good meat based kibble. They ship anywhere in the US for free. Even the bag is 100% compostable for the environmentally conscious. While cooking fresh for the pups is awesome, the kibble can help those with a busy lifestyle. I have a 170 lb Mastiff and he LOVES this kibble. Also, I have a dehydrator and make him organic sweet potato chews, chips, and jerky treats and he goes nuts for them and there aren't any preservatives. This is also easy for the busy life because you can set and let it go for hours while you do other things. Of course, do your own research and do whatever makes you comfortable. I was nervous at first with my big guy because he is my family, but the more I looked at the C#*p in traditional dog food, the more I wanted him eating better. No issues with him on this diet so far. However, if he ever does have a problem that the vet can prove is diet based I will, of course, do what is best for his health. Meat or no meat, if you rescue a dog you are still doing a wonderful and compassionate thing! Also, to answer some of your other questions, I switched him as an adult and I did it gradually over a month by mixing his old food with the new food a little at first and then more each week until after a month he was fully transitioned to just the vegan kibble. I did the same with his treats, a slow transition. I only ever tried V-dog and stuck with it because he does well on it.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veganmarcos at 12/14/14 13:30:47

    As a long time vegan who has researched this topic extensively I will say no. I had two dogs that I attempted to raise on vegan dog food for twelve years. One dog developed an infection and was having digestive issue. She was also alkaline, which is bad for a dog. See, humans and omnivores are alkaline or have a higher alkalinity. Dogs aren't supposed to. If a person becomes to acidic then disease sets in. The same applies in reverse for a dog. If they become too alkaline then disease sets in. There's also this other little thing. An enzyme called amylase. Vegans and Omnivores produce a steady supply. Dogs don't. It's basic job is to break down starches into sugar so that they can be used by the body. When you feed wheat, vegetables, fruit, corn, or any other grain to a dog he/she has to break this down. Now, with a cat they will probably throw up any food with a high content of starch. A dog's body is different. It's pancreas will kick in and produce an emergency supply to prevent the food from rotting in the stomach. Over time, this taxing of the pancreas can create a problem known as pancreatitis. One of my vegan dogs had this very issue. I did it to him. So no, I do not feel a vegan diet is right or appropriate. Your dog may "appear" to be thriving but he/she is only surviving and every time you feed him a banana, spinach, kale, or even popcorn his body has to force produce an emergency supply of amylase so that he can break it down. If he were a vegan or even a tru omnivore this action would not accour.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by happycowgirl at 12/16/14 08:52:52

    I'm very thankful for your posts, Veginsane and VeganMarcos. I'm learning a lot. Especially about the alkalinity issue. I had no idea!

    Veginsane, sounds like your dog is very lucky to have such a great owner (companion) as you. You make him organic sweet potato chews? This may be the luckiest Mastiff in the world! : )

    I like this line from Veginsane, "Meat or no meat, if you rescue a dog you are still doing a wonderful and compassionate thing!" I agree.

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    Posted by happycowgirl at 12/16/14 08:54:45

    Does anyone else have experience with this alkalinity issue VeganMarcos is talking about?

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    Posted by happycowgirl at 12/16/14 10:09:14

    Ok, I've researched the alkalinity issue and I've found even more evidence that a vegan diet is phenomenal for dogs.

    Note, however, that when it comes to alkalinity, it's not a one-size-fits-all situation. Here's the deal: if ur dog has had a history of struvite stones or any type of kidney problems, his/her body is already producing what is referred to as alkaline urine, so you don't what to add to the problem by messing with ur dog's pH levels.

    If ur dog doesn't have struvite stones or kidney problems, you WANT them to be on an alkaline diet. From what I've read, alkaline diets can be extremely effective for dogs, especially with skin problems, and they also help with arthritis in dogs, thyroid disorders, as well as several respiratory diseases.

    In short, the pH scale ranges from 1 to 14. Below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. Cancerous tissues are acidic, where healthy tissues are alkaline. All meat is acidic. The trick is that some fruits, vegetables, oils and grains are acidic and some are alkaline. So you want to be sure you are feeding your dogs the types of fruits, vegetables, oils and grains that are alkaline.

    VeganMarcos said being alkaline is bad for a dog, but I'm reading that the opposite is true. Of course, do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

    Read this for an excellent summary:

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 12/17/14 06:58:25

    Thanks for posting this. It's an important and complex issue.

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