Can A Dog Be Vegan? Controversies Broken Down

Can a dog be vegan

I’m a dog person, I always have been. I love my dog and even though I am Vegan myself, I would never feed my dog a vegan diet if I knew it would harm him. The debate about whether or not dogs can be vegan is an extremely controversial one. Some think that it’s pure animal cruelty to feed your dogs vegan, while many vegans believe that it’s animal cruelty to not feed them vegan.

So what’s the truth?

Can dogs be vegan? Is vegan food good for dogs? Are there vegan dog treats that are balanced in nutrients? Has there been scientific research and studies done to determine the effects of a vegan diet on them?

As human’s we are afraid of going vegan like in this article, then for dogs, we definitely have to first consult our veterinarian before turning our dog vegan. Also, there are several vegan foods through which we humans can get all the nutrients like vitamin B12 which is shown here, protein from quinoa and other products with recipes like this and others. But, for dogs, can they get all the nutrients through vegan diet?

Spoiler alert – my answer to all of the above questions is yes!

Dogs are Domesticated

Almost everyone that I know in my life has a very strong opinion on how dogs are carnivores and they have to eat meat to survive. When I made the decision to switch my dog’s diet to a plant-based one, I received so much backlash and criticism from friends and family. The thing is, dogs are not carnivores. They are omnivores. Not only are they omnivores, they are domesticated omnivores! You cannot compare a domesticated beagle to a wild wolf, like many people in my life do. Do I think that wolves and coyotes should eat vegan? Of course not! Do I think dogs can be vegan, yes!

However, I have a domesticated dog, which means he relies on me for his food. I have two choices: buy the same crap that the majority of the population feeds their dogs, or find a new brand of vegan dog food.

Commercial Dog Food

Disadvantages of Commercial Dog Food

The commercial dog food that is available in stores today is not natural or healthy for dogs at all. Think about it – is it really natural for dogs to eat cows and pigs? If people know half the stuff that went into dog food today, they would be appalled.

Dog food basically consists of the leftovers that humans can’t eat. It’s illegal for us to eat, but totally legal for them. Their food consists of cow heads, pig intestines, and all the other non-edible body parts of livestock.

Guess what else is in dog food? Euthanized cats and dogs. Yup, you read that right. We are literally feeding out pets their brothers and sisters, it’s a form of cannibalism and I have no idea how it’s legal.

Here are all the common items in commercial dog food

  • Slaughterhouse waste (organs, heads, hooves, beaks, feet)
  • Roadkill (deer, skunks, and raccoons)
  • Contaminated grain middling
  • Distiller fermentation waste
  • Spoiled supermarket food
  • Bread and cereal rejects (cobs, stalks, mill sweepings)
  • Dying, diseased and disabled farm animals
  • Euthanized cats and dogs
  • Restaurant grease
  • Dead zoo animals



Also, there is a lot of false labeling that happens with dog food. One day when I was looking at a package of dog food in the store, I saw the words

“Animal Fat” in the ingredients list. I thought to myself “what is this animal?”

I later found out from my veterinarian that whenever an ingredient as labeled as “animal” or “meat” without specifying what animal it’s from, it’s usually cats or dogs (definitely not livestock, otherwise it would have been labeled as so).

Can Dogs Get All Their Nutrients on A Vegan Diet?

Vegan Diet for Dogs

Dogs are able to meet every single one of their nutritional requirements through a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean that we should just feed our dogs rice and bananas. They do have specific needs that we need to take into consideration.

Protein is a major one. Dogs need to get 10 essential amino acids from their diets. A common argument against vegan dog food is that animal proteins contain all 10 essential amino acids, while plants don’t.  This is true in the sense that plant proteins are often missing 1 or 2 essential amino acids.

However, there is a very simple solution to this problem. All you do is add complimentary plant protein option. For example, oats and peas both have different amino acids. However, when you combine these two ingredients together, you easily get all 10 essential amino acids. If your dog needs more protein in its diet, then you can add a vegan protein powder (check here) to their diet. Although, I would like to mention, try to fill-in your dog’s protein requirement through food itself and add less protein powder to its diet.

This makes it very easy for dogs to get all of the protein that they need, and vegan dog food brands always take this into consideration when making their formulas.

It’s not just me that is all about making homemade dog food, please go over to Traci’s blog, SingingVegan and read about her adventures with dog food including some extra ingredients to include and not include! I prepare some of my my favorite homemade dog food recipes in this article for my dog too!

Digestion With Vegan Diet

A common concern with dog owners is whether or not their dogs will be able to digest plant matter. Plant-based diets are already infamous for causing stomach problems and bloating if someone follows an aggressive transition to it. But does it actually extend to dogs as well?

I don’t quite think.

Dogs can easily digest, absorb, and use the nutrients that they get from vegan food. When you buy a brand of vegan dog food, take a look at the ratios of protein, carbs, and fat. You will notice that it will be extremely similar to the ratios of commercial dog food. When the food is made, the ingredients are ground or cooked when needed to make the food easy to digest. And contrary to what many people think, the crude fiber content of vegan dog food is the same as meat-based foods.

What Do Vegetarians Think?

Many veterinarians are aware of the health benefits of vegan food for dogs, and they recommend it to their patients. My dog has arthritis, and my vet recommended that I put him on vegetarian food as an experiment to see if it helps (she has no idea that I was vegan at the time). I took her recommendation, and 2 years later he is thriving.

If you look at the food that is offered at vet offices, almost every single office will carry vegetarian food. And why would a veterinarian sell vegetarian food if they thought it was anything but good for dogs?

If you are truly concerned about feeding your dog a vegan diet, talk to your vet about it. Get a blood test on your dog with the current food they are eating, then put them on vegan food for a month. After 1 month, get another blood test done to compare the results. This should put you at ease.

The Oldest Dog in the World

Did you know that one of the oldest dogs in the world was actually a vegan? That’s enough proof for me, alone. Ask me again ‘can dogs be vegan’ and I’m more confident than ever to answer with an affirmative yes. Her name was Bramble, and she lived to be 27 years old (189 in dog years)! There are so many studies that show a vegan diet has no harmful effects on dogs, and they can improve their lives immensely.

One study (Source) from the British Journal of Nutrition proved exactly that. The study consisted of Siberian husky sled dogs eating a vegan diet for 16 weeks. The results found that after the 4 months, the dogs had very normal blood values and their physical shape was in top condition.

Vegan Dog Treat Brands

Best Vegan Dog food Brands to trust

One more thing I want to mention is that many dogs who are fed commercial dog food develop health issues such as arthritis, and even cancer. It is not natural for dogs to be getting cancer and all these health issues. When it comes down to it, it’s because of the food they are eating. As mentioned before, the commercial pet food industry doesn’t truly care about the health of your dog. They want to use cheap ingredients (such as remnants from slaughterhouses and euthanized animals) so they can make a profit. The opposite can be said about vegan dog food companies.

They do thorough research to ensure that your dogs will be getting the best quality food that is actually healthy for them. Some popular brands that offer the best vegan dog food are V-dog, Natural Balance, and Petcurean.

Precautions to Take

Before switching to a vegan diet for your dog, do your own research. Take them to the vet to get a before and after blood test. During the first few months of switching their diet, it’s important to monitor them just to make sure everything is okay. When switching your dog’s food, don’t do it overnight. Slowly start adding the new food into their old one with each meal, over the course of a week. This will prevent them from having digestion issues when they switch.

Unless you are a veterinarian or an expert, don’t try to just feed your dog vegan by giving them some of whatever you are eating. Yes, dogs can be vegan with homemade dog food like vegan tortillas which oyu can make with this recipe, but it’s not recommended for everyone to do this. Unless you have done your research and know exactly what dogs need, you can be doing more harm than good.

To keep your dogs health well, provide all the essential minerals and vitamins in their food, maintain your household clean and fresh with natural household cleaners like these ones and use mild vegan odors so, they do not get affected by the same.

All these things adds a lot to your dog’s good health. A clean household and good smell helps him stay calm and relaxed. You can also, prepare natural vegan cleaners with this recipe and vegan deodorant at home using these products! This is beneficial to both you, your family and your dog!

I might share a homemade vegan dog food recipe that I came across the other day if you guys want? Leave a comment below if that’s something you are interested in. That’s why I always recommend buying the best vegan dog food from a brand that has already done the research so you know it’s safe.

All the above methods and advice that I have compiled are tried and tested on my dog. I, at VegansFirst, would recommend that it will be better to consult your veterinarian before you turn your dog’s diet into vegan one.


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  1. Agree. Have two dogs and have fed them vegan for over 5 years. They’re both as healthy as dogs can be. The old one, 11 years, have blood values (and energy levels:) ) of a young dog. Plus, her allergies are much better than with meat/fish.

    1. That sounds great Linda. Thanks for taking your time to let other vegans know about your experience in this matter.

  2. my dog is 14 and has been on a vegan diet since i got him at 2 years old. mostly natural balance wet with Halo dry. plus fruit and veggies mixed in and as snacks

    i can’t say for sure he’s healthier because of the vegan diet, but all of his bloodwork is great, including iron levels. and his weight is on the upper end of normal, so he’s def not emaciated!

    his poops are perfect and he is not gassy at all.

    highly recommend!

  3. Hi….I just wanted to comment. I have been an ethical vegan since 2012. My rescue dog just turned 7 years old. After much research, I decided when she was around 3 that she could be vegan (after feeding her “boutique” foods – what I thought were the best quality dog foods I could find – since she was a puppy). I transitioned her to V Dog. In March 2020, my vet told me that I need to be careful with feeding her a vegan diet, that dogs need certain enzymes. I didn’t believe her – “my dog is thriving” on a vegan diet, I would tell people. (And I certainly didn’t trust veterinarians when it came to plant based nutrition – just as I don’t trust my own non-vegan meat eating doctors). Then in July 2020, my dog injured herself at the dog park and started limping. I couldn’t get into her regular vet (due to the pandemic) so took her to a new vet that was taking appointments – and as a new “patient”, they required a physical. This saved her life….as they found a heart murmur. She asked what I was feeding her and I told her V Dog. She then took an Xray of my dog’s heart and found it to be quite enlarged. She recommended I immediately switch her food – to one that does NOT contain chickpeas, peas, or any type of legume. I then had to take my dog in for an echocardiogram, and in August 2020, my dog was diagnosed with Nutritional Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Often the first symptom of this disease in dogs is SUDDEN DEATH. Had I brought my dog to her regular vet, they likely would not have done a complete physical – and the murmur would not have been found…her first symptom could have been death or congestive heart failure. She is now on twice daily heart medication and supplementation, and has to have an echocardiogram every 6 months (thank God for pet insurance!!). I could have lost my dog!!

    I DO want to say – this is NOT a vegan dog food problem – as the vast majority of dogs with this disease are not “vegan”. However, it IS an ingredient problem. This disease is often thought to happen in dogs fed a “grain free” diet. It’s not the “grain free” part that damages dog’s hearts – it is what they replace the grains with – chickpeas, peas, and legumes.

    So PLEASE be careful recommending a vegan diet for dogs. Again….I am an ethical vegan – I love and adore animals and do not want to cause them harm….but the food I gave my dog almost killed her. If you want to feed your dog a vegan diet PLEASE consult a qualified pet nutritionist!!! This is SO important!! Dogs need a protein that will NOT harm their hearts – and chickpeas, peas, and legumes are NOT SAFE for dogs. I learned the hard way. And no….my dog is still not out of the woods….she could still go into congestive heart failure at any time – but I am hopeful, as with her new diet her heart IS slowly healing – her heart disease is reversing from her food (not the medications – the food is healing her heart – and each echocardiogram shows small improvement).

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