Have A Green Pet

…and help your pet live a healthy long life

Dogs Can Be Vegetarians and Vegans Too!

Yes, you heard right… a vegetarian dog and/or a vegan dog!  I guess that makes them veggie dogs.

Your dog(s) can lead a sustainable life and make one of the biggest impacts with his/her diet!  Just like humans, they can reduce their carbon paw print by going vegetarian or even vegan.

If you’re like most people, your first thought is, “How can that be healthy for my dog…to not eat meat.”

A vegetarian or vegan doggie diet is healthy, safe and in many cases may increase your dog’s overall health and lifespan.

Let me take the time to tell you why…

Where does the meat your animal is eating come from?  How is it raised?

Think about the massive 2007 pet food recall.  That should be enough to convince you that you need to think about the source of your beloved dog’s food.  Even in human food, traces of fecal matter, fertilizers, misc. chemicals and other disturbing things can be found.  If this happens in the food we consume, imagine what we’re feeding our pooch. In fact, much of the meat that is “unfit for human consumption” is allowed to be put in pet food. Meat from diseased, dying or dead animals frequently is put into your pet’s food, especially if purchased from massive “box” stores.

Consider this as well…

What are the cows, chickens, ducks, etc. being fed? What they eat, so will your dog.  Most of the time they are not fed an appropriate diet and they are also not allowed to live a normal life.  They are raised in crowded, dirty environments and are deprived of proper nutrients.  They are fed to be fattened and that’s it!  It is an unsustainable and cruel practice.  It truly is a tragedy!

How to begin?

  • DO NOT just start your dog on a vegetarian or vegan diet.  Integrate some vegetarian/vegan options with their current food and wean them off their old food slowly.
  • DO your research.  You can make your own dog food (vegetarian/vegan), but make sure you know your dog’s nutritional needs.  You will need to add supplements, etc. and it may take to trial and error to find out what your dog likes to eat.  A great place to start would be to read Vegetarian Cats & Dogs by James Peden.

veggie dogs

You are not alone…

There are lots of folks out there that want to do right by their dogs and create a sustainable lifestyle, without feeding their dogs meat.  It can be done, IT IS BEING DONE and too much benefit of dogs everywhere.

Check out these websites for healthy dog food recipes and further information on  vegetarian/vegan dog food options:

  • Evolution Diet  www.petfoodshop.com  651-228-0632
  • F & O Alternative Pet Products www.vegancats.com (don’t worry they have dog food too!)  877-376-9056
  • Harbingers of a New Age  www.vegepet.com  406-295-4944
  • Natural Life Pet Products  www.nlpp.com  800-367-2391
  • V-dog  www.v-dogfood.com  888-280-8364
  • Vegetarian Dogs  www.vegetariandogs.com
  • Wow-Bow Distributors  www.wow-bow.com  800-326-0230
  • Wysong Corporation*  www.wysong.net  989-631-0009

* carry vegetarian/vegan food, but also carry food with meat

Still unsure about vegan or vegetarian dog food…maybe Bramble can convince you.  Bramble was a Border Collie who lived 27 years!  How did she live so long?  She was fed a vegan diet!  Make the sustainable, healthy and loving decision for your dog and make the change that will make a change – have a veggie dog!


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  1. admin Said,

    I would like to hear if you currently have a veggie dog, thinking about it or in the process of changing your dog(s) diet.


  2. Jim (DoggyBytes.ca) Said,

    Hi Marisa.

    The timing of this post, or me reading it is uncanny, having just finished writing a week long series on my blog about the importance of avoiding commercial dog food and feeding a more natural raw diet. I stumbled across your post in my reader and felt it was my duty to comment.

    Dogs are carnivores (See studies by Evolutionary Canid Biologist Robert K. Wayne and others). Carnivores evolved to eat a animal protein based diet, not a vegan or vegetarian one. From its teeth to its butt the dog is designed to eat meat.

    Dogs & wolves can tolerate a small amount of carbohydrate (unlike cats who are obligate, or true carnivores), but were not designed to process large amounts of carbohydrate over extended periods of time

    One article I read about Bramble about a study done by the American Veterinary Medical Association with dogs on calorie restricted diets and longevity. The study was done on kibble fed dogs (of course) & concluded that a dog living on a “calorie restricted” diet lived on average of 1.8 years longer than the average dog. That makes sense. Our pets (like we humans), are over-fed and under exercised.

    Dogs on a raw meaty bones diet are leaner than their kibble fed counter parts, and many raw feeders including myself now, will fast their dogs one day per week, to simulate what would happen in the wild.

    The bottom line is that no matter how you slice it dogs ARE carnivores, and are designed to eat flesh and bone, not peas and lentils. While I’m all for “people” choosing to eat meat or not, dogs as carnivores should always be fed a meat based diet and hopefully a raw one.

    Incidentally, Bluey (an Australian Cattle Dog that lived in Australia), died in 1939 at the age of 29. While I couldn’t find any information on his diet, I can almost guarantee he wasn’t eating kibble in 1939, and highly doubt he’d have eaten a vegan or vegetarian diet in the outback of Australia.


  3. Mary Haight Said,

    While I appreciate the sentiment behind your assertion, I must agree with Jim that dogs are designed to eat meat. Imposing the wrong diet for dogs systems because of environmental concerns may not be the right thing to do Mentioning that is kind of diet is being fed “everywhere” and “with great success” should have links to primary source qualified references or entries from peer-reviewed journals. Citing sources that are selling this kind of diet does nothing to turn your argument into accepted fact. While cows have lived through being forced to eat corn when their digestive system is designed for grass, why would we choose to impose that same wrong-headed fate on dogs?

    Home cooking with added vitamins is one alternative, as is organics and for others, there’s raw or freeze dried raw. Dogs are individuals and some can take certain diets and thrive, where others will fail. Since there is no body of scientific data here that confirms this is either safe or advised I would steer (no pun intended) clear of promoting it. It would be safer to promote this a personal opinion piece rather than making claims of “everywhere” and “great success.” I’m just sayin’.

  4. Robert Davis Said,

    Wouldn’t moving to a vegan diet and having to use vitamins and supplements increase the carbon paw print? After all, vitamins and supplements have to be manufactured and shipped. As well, starchy foods are not going to keep a dogs teeth clean, so increased cost in vet bills, driving to the vet and cost of manufacturing medicines that really aren’t needed….more paw print. Further, scientific studies have shown that dogs digest meat much better than they do grains, one of the biggest problems with dog health today (check out some of the message boards for different breeds)…more paw prints due to increase health costs. One of my own dogs was fed kibble his whole life until recently and he lost 1/2 of his teeth due to those kibble diets. The cost of those vet bills and treatments? Over $3,000.

    While humans should alleviate the suffering of animals, forcing our own personal convictions on carnivores doesn’t appear to be the best option. There are plenty of good meat based options using RAW diets where the animals used are treated humanely and are free-range. For pre-made RAW, Stella and Chewy’s provides sustainable and humanely raised animals. There are other pre-mades, RAW mixes, like The Honest Kitchen that uses sustainable ingredients as well. Of course, buying from local butchers or farmers that do provide better care for their animals as compared to the bigger factory farms is a great place to start and a healthier option for your pets, which in turn means less poop, less vet bills and a lesser paw print.

  5. admin Said,

    Thank you Jim, Mary and Robert for your commentaries. Undoubtedly, feeding dogs a vegetarian or vegan diets is a hot topic.

    Many people believe that because dogs belong in the order Carnivora, their feeding must be carnivorous. Actually, their feeding behaviours are omnivorous and their physiology and anatomy support an omnivore diet.

    Yes, there are multiple anecdotal references presenting how well dogs do on vegetarian and vegan diets demonstrated by improved health and/or cured ailments. And while these references are not scientific research, the information and evidence cannot be dismissed either. The same goes with PETA’s (People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals) study involving 300 dogs fed a vegetarian diet. The results demonstrated that dogs who switched to vegetarian diets had significantly fewer health problems long-term. Just in 2009, the first controlled (scientific) study was conducted by Dr. Wendy Brown, a canine nutritionist from the University of New England, who found that dogs can thrive on a meat-free diet (British Journal of Nutrition Vol 102, pp 1318-1323).

    Every single nutritional requirement a dog needs can be provided without animal products (James O’Heare ‘Vegan Dogs: Compassionate Nutrition’ http://www.vegandognutritionassociation.com/vegandogs.pdf). The key to feeding your dog a vegetarian/vegan diet is ensuring you are following balanced, complete and carefully formulated recipes. Otherwise, buy commercially available kibble and moist food already formulated. The Vegan Dog Nutrition Association http://www.vegandognutritionassociation.com/vegan_dog_foods.html has a list of available vegan commercial brands.

    Some people argue that feeding dogs a non-meat diet is cruel, unnatural and unhealthy. Is it cruel to feed your dog a diverse, properly formulated vegetarian/vegan diet free of antibiotics and hormones commonly found in meat coming from factory farms and the pesticides applied to the grain they eat? Is it cruel to remove the risks associated with feeding them a raw-meat diet which is often loaded with pathogenic bacteria, intestinal worm eggs and larvae?

    Is it cruel to remove all the inherent violence associated with factory farming and the killing of other sentient beings even if raised “organically” to feed our dogs? Not in my dictionary.

    What is ‘natural’ in today’s domesticated dog? The average diet of a domesticated dog is far from natural. The vegetarian/vegan diet is not natural, but the issue is not whether a diet is ‘natural’ but whether it is an optimal diet that provides the dog’s daily nutrient requirements for healthy living. Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t automatically mean it provides the optimal nutrient requirements. Dogs have specific nutrient requirements; they do not have specific ingredient requirements. The optimal diet can be attained with a meat-based diet and a plant-based diet.

    I know feeding a ‘natural’ raw meat-based diet for dogs (and cats) has become popular lately. Veterinary nutritionist point to the hazards and deficiencies of such diets http://www.petdiets.com ‘Raw Meat Diets for Cats and Dogs? An Assessment of the Research and Arguments Related to the Advisability of Feeding Raw Meat-based Diets to Cats and Dogs’ by James O’Heare http://www.behavetech.com/raw.html further explores feeding raw meat diets for dogs (and cats).

    The point is that we have options available. There’s more than one choice when it comes to a properly and optimally dog diet.


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