I get this question quite often in the dog park because my parents are vegan. It seems to be a popular assumption but comes with just as many questions. All of which I hope to answer for you here. So let’s get to it. Can your dog eat a vegan diet?
A dog can safely eat a vegan diet. Dogs are classified as omnivores, just like their human counterparts. Many dogs thrive while consuming vegan food – contributing a shiny coat and healthy skin to the lack of processed ingredients and byproducts found in conventional kibbles.
I realize this isn’t a very popular opinion, and I may get some flack for this one. “But you have canine incisors. You’re made for tearing apart meat.”
The better to shred your carrots with, my dear.
I sit in a nice comfy house where I have my food served to me in a cute little bowl right beside my sisters, slightly taller, matching set. So, I don’t need to hunt – I need to be healthy!
I told you guys earlier that I would answer all of these questions in a two part scenario. First, my opinion and personal experiences. Second, my research on the topic. Below you will find peer reviewed context on feeding pups a vegan diet.
Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.
Can My Dog Eat Vegan Dog Food?
Quick answer? Yes. Long answer? It depends. There are a couple of reasons we (dogs) are fed a vegan diet.
- Our humans have an ethical obligation to animals and the sustainability of the earth.
- Food allergies.
- We’re stuck on a deserted island with nothing but plants and fruits.
Pups with certain food allergies are typically hyper sensitive to animal protein. As long as their alternative diet is conscious and meticulously structured to supply all required nutrients, they can flourish.
I’ll touch a bit more on the conscious and meticulously structured aspect later in this article. For now I need you to understand that your dog’s diet should be a top priority and monitored daily – vegan or not.
What Does A Vegan Dog Eat?
Let’s start by clarifying exactly what a vegan diet is.
A vegan diet is void of ANY animal products. No meats, no dairy, no milk.
Below is a comprehensive list of vegan foods that we can eat, and most of which I personally love:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Other Veggies
- Beans (full disclosure, these little bean things make me get the poots)
- Dark leafy greens (I don’t love these, but I know they’re good for me)
I also need to make a note here emphasizing that there are certain foods in the vegan diet that we absolutely, positively, under no circumstances can eat.
From here on out, these types of foods will be tallied under the “No Flight” list.
Items on the vegan “no flight” list include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Dark Chocolate (the darker, the more toxic to dogs)
- Macadamia Nuts
- Yeast Dough
- Peaches and Plums (the pits are what’s dangerous here)
Here’s a brief glimpse at the old “no flight” list. That’s what my humans call it, at least.
All I know is I hear the word chocolate in direct association with this list. I’ve never had it. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did sneak an M&M that one of my little human cousins accidentally dropped one time. It was super small though. I barely tasted it.
Are There Disadvantages to Feeding Your Dog a Vegan Diet?
There are pros and cons to everything done in excess. A diet is no different.
For starters let’s begin by clarifying the term “diet”.
So often the word “diet” is directly associated with feelings of restriction and hunger. This could not be any further from the truth.
A diet is the nutritional products you consume on a daily basis.
- A bird’s diet is predominantly seeds and worms
- A pet fish’s diet are those stinky flakes
- A rabbit’s diet is mostly grass and vegetables
- A human’s diet is vast because humans are picky and trending and hop on whatever health fad happens to be blazing through society at any given moment.
What I’m trying to outline here is that your diet is what you eat on a daily basis. Not the amount of calories you just so happen to be restricting yourself to today in order to look a bit leaner for your summer vacation.
So, are there any harmful disadvantages to feeding your dog a vegan diet.
There’s one main danger. It’s you.
If you do not take the time to fully educate yourself on a vegan lifestyle and the alternative sources of macronutrients that your dog needs on a daily basis to function at the highest level, then you could potentially cause your dog some health issues.
I would go so far as to assume that if you are interested in feeding your dog a vegan diet, then you too are most likely partaking in a vegan lifestyle.
If that’s the case (depending on how long you’ve been a vegan) you should already have a substantial foundation around the necessary nutrients needed in your diet.
The same goes for your dog.
The disadvantage to your dog eating vegan food is inadequate calculations regarding the typically desired macronutrient breakdown.
By removing meat and all animal products from your dog’s diet, you will have to get creative when it comes to protein alternatives. While protein is important for your dog, they are omnivores, so a well balanced diet is the main goal here.
A Vegan Dog’s Diet is Prone to Malnutrition
It’s easy to miss critical nutrition when you remove animal products from your dog’s diet. It’s important to always consult your dog’s vet before making this change and then having an expert check off on your continued knowledge and integration of feeding your dog a vegan diet.
Without proper guidance and a well balanced vegan meal plan for your dog, the following can pose threats to your dog’s health:
- Insufficient amino acid intake. I’m primarily talking about protein here. While protein can be overdone, it is still crucial to your dog’s functionality.
- Insufficient vitamin and mineral intake. This happens typically when you start out making your dog’s food from scratch. It’s easy to miss things. I’ll list some recipes for your reference down below.
- Lack of recommended daily protein intake. Tread lightly here. Protein is overly commercialized in our society today. Especially when it comes to a dog’s diet. Nevertheless, they do need between 18-29% of their daily calories from protein depending on your dog’s age.
Taking your dog’s nutrition into your own hands can be a daunting undertaking. Try not to get frustrated or discouraged. The key to all of this is continued research and education on the topic. You’re going to make mistakes – just make sure you learn from them.
Ensure that your dog is receiving all of their necessary macronutrients as well as the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) by mixing in allowable fruits and veggies on a daily basis.
Refer to the list I created above for a quick guide on what your dog can eat on a vegan diet.
Why You Should NOT Make Homemade Vegan Dog Food
Again, the biggest mistake when it comes to feeding your dog a vegan diet comes down to your inefficiencies with research.
When making homemade vegan dog food you must ensure that:
- Your feeding your dog enough calories for their body weight and age.
- Your dog is getting in all macro and micronutrients needed for their overall wellbeing.
If you invest only half efforts here you’ll only get partial results and those results could be detrimental. I want to highlight the top 2 most common negative effects of homemade vegan food.
Obesity is not only rampant in the human world but the canine world too. It’s easy to overfeed your dog. Especially if you’re cooking everything from scratch on a daily basis.
It’s important to properly measure serving sizes and even macronutrient breakdowns: protein / fat / carbohydrates.
#2 Bladder Stones
Bladder stones are most commonly the result of uncleanliness and poor hygiene. Consult your vet and ask about the plant based foods that will prevent bladder stones as these are excruciating for your dog to experience.
Also, just be clean!
Macronutrient Split for Your Dog
Macronutrients are the “macro” breakdown of the nutrients your dog should be consuming on a daily basis to maintain or improve overall functionality.
A generalized macro count for a dog with normal energy levels, fully grown, with an average life should be:
- 18-20% Protein
- 25-35% Fats
- 45% Carbs
*Should be adjusted according to activity levels, health, and your dog’s individual needs.
Quick Breakdown of Macronutrient Needs Based On Your Dog’s Age
|Puppy||29% total calories by weight||50%||20%|
Quick facts to note:
- Some studies suggest that carbohydrates may not be a beneficial source of nutrient for your dog. Not in a harmful way, just in a useless way.
- Does your dog eat too much? Increase their carbohydrates in the form of fiber. Fiber has a high satiety rate that will cause your dog to fill fuller faster and for longer.
If you can ensure that your dog is eating their recommended daily macronutrient percentages on a daily basis, then you have a whole lot less to worry about.
This is the cheat sheet for your dog’s balanced nutrition – vegan or otherwise.
Is Your Dog Better Off Eating a Vegan Diet
Stick with me here on this one.
I believe that people who eat specific foods due to allergies, morals, or any other form of clarification have to level up their nutrition. You feeding your dog a vegan diet is no different.
Let me explain what I mean.
When you make the decision to completely cut a food source from your diet, you’re forced to analyze that source.
Was it essential to your health?
How much of it do you need on a daily basis?
Where can you find alternative forms?
This type of granular analysis only improves your attention to detail in regards to you and your dog’s nutritional needs. No longer are you able to throw anything in a bowl and hope for the best. Now you need to focus on the nutritional makeup of that bowl and the product sources.
All of this will naturally make you more health conscious and your dog will reap the rewards of your due diligence.
Some may even conclude that vegan dogs are healthier because of this very argument. When more focus is forced on the quality of food and direct food sources, your dog’s overall well being is the beneficiary.
Benefits of Feeding Your Dog a Vegan Diet
If done correctly and under consistent expert supervision, you can see there’s really no disadvantage (health wise) to feeding your dog a vegan diet.
On the other hand, the benefits of having your dog eat a vegan diet are incredible.
Let’s take a look at a few of those now.
#1 Vegan Food Yields Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Animal products (meat and dairy especially) are linked to inflammation and digestion issues.
#2 Vegan Food Helps and Can Eliminate Certain Allergies
Food allergies, skin allergies, and seasonal allergies. Beef, chicken, milk, and dairy are the foods most commonly associated with food allergies in dogs.
#3 Vegan Food is Easily Digested
In direct comparison to a vegan diet – animal product (meat) is not easily digestible.
#4 Homemade Vegan Food is Cheap
There’s a common misconception lurking in the shadows of discussion boards and search engine results saying that eating vegan and / or “healthy” is expensive. I have two words for those people: lentils and sweet potatoes.
#5 Vegan Food Increases Your Dog’s Natural Immune System
Vegan food is easier for your dog to digest and even increases their metabolism, assisting in long-term weight management.
Do Your Research When Deciding to Feed Your Dog a Vegan Diet
I can’t emphasize this enough. While my whole family is happy little vegan hippies, that doesn’t mean everyone will agree with us. I want to leave that decision up to you. Be sure to read both sides of the debate though – not just the side you agree with.
This is an important part to evolving in general.
Regardless of what diet you feed your dog, it’s important that it’s well balanced. Most humans don’t even eat a well balanced diet. I get that it’s difficult; but that doesn’t make it any less critical. Long story short, we ALL need to eat our veggies!
It’s easier these days for you to buy us complete vegan food sources. I’ll make it even easier for you and list them below:
- Halo Vegan Garden Stew
- Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula
- Wysong Vegan Dog Food
Test them out for yourselves (or let your dog children try them first).
Completely up to you.
Can Humans Balance Ethics With Their Dog’s Needs?
Of course they can!
This isn’t that difficult. Especially since your dog can technically get everything they need from a properly balance vegan diet. Protein deficiency isn’t really a thing if you make sure adequate substitutions are made. Again, this is effortless with some of the aforementioned pet foods.
There are so many animal byproducts in most prepackaged dog foods that it’s hard to make sure we’re being as healthy as we think. Maybe we should see if our humans will start cooking for us on a daily basis?
Not a bad idea at all. I understand that this is a time consuming undertaking, but if done properly is highly beneficial to your dog.
There are, of course, pros and cons to homemade dog food. Both of which I have outlined for you in this post.
Update: I wrote an entire post about cooking for your dog. I’ll link it here for you.
Tips To Make Sure You’re Giving Your Dog Everything They Need on a Vegan Diet
- Read the nutrition labels, humans! Just like you should turn your Pringle can over and read what you’re actually ingesting, you should turn our food bag over and make sure you can pronounce the ENTIRE list. I’m serious. You better not be feeding me any trygliceroudirigrerous. Don’t look that up. It’s real. Trust me.
- Make it yourself! We love wholesome homemade dog food. Made with love – it just tastes better.
- Throw in some sweet potato treats. I promise your pup kid will love them. Oh, quick pro tip, add a dabble of coconut oil on top. It’s like coffee strudel for dogs.
All of this to say, yes, dogs can eat, enjoy, and excel on a vegan diet. Just be intentional about it if you’re planning on implementing it yourself. Remember, the key is WELL BALANCED. Say it with me,
W E L L B A L A N C E D.
Homemade Vegan Dog Food Recipes
Obviously it’s more convenient to order vegan dog food from Chewy, but if you feel like cooking for your dog, these following recipes are quick, easy, and well balanced. Not to mention, made from whole foods. It doesn’t get better than that for you or your dog.
|1 Chopped Carrot|
|1 Chopped Celery Stalk|
|3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil|
|4 Tablespoons of Natural or Organic Peanutbutter|
|3 Cups of Low Sodium Vegetable Stock|
|3 Cups of Cooked Chickpeas|
|Mash the chickpeas up in a bowl.|
|In a separate bowl, mix together the peanut butter, vegetable oil, and 1 cup of vegetable stock.|
|In a blender, combine the rest of the vegetable stock, celery, and carrots. Blend for 30 seconds.|
|Combine all ingredients together in the chickpea bowl and serve!|
|1/2 Chopped Celery Stalk|
|1/2 Teaspoon of Sea Kelp|
|2 Cups of Vegetable Stock or Water|
|1/4 Cup of Barley|
|1/2 Cup Lentils (Wash and Dry)|
|Bring the stock (or water) to a boil, add in the barley and lentils, cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.|
|In a blender, add the celery with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Mix until well combined.|
|Add this celery mixture along with the sea kelp to the pot of barley and lentils.|
|Let cool before serving to your dog.|
Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Mash
|3 Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes (cubed)|
|3 Cups of Organic or Natural Peanut butter|
|1 Cup of Lentils|
|1/2 Cup of Quinoa|
|1/2 Cup of Whole Grain Rice|
|2 Tablespoons of Flaxseed Oil|
|250 Grams of Cranberry Extract|
|6 Cups of Water|
|Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, then add in the sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, and lentils.|
|Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid for 40-45 minutes or until everything is fork tender.|
|Let everything cool and then incorporate the peanut butter. Stir until combined.|
|This will make approximately 4 servings and can be refrigerated.|
|Warm before serving and top off with cranberry extract and flaxseed oil. Enjoy!|
Vegan Pupper Cookies
|2 Tablespoons of Basil and Mint (chopped)|
|1 Tablespoon of Salt|
|3 Cups of Water|
|1 Cup of Yeast|
|9 Cups of Wholemeal Flour|
|Mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl then mix in the 3 cups of water. Knead into a dough.|
|Make into different shapes (try to keep the same size and thickness), and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.|
|Let the cookies cool to room temperature before serving to your dog!|
As I come across new vegan dog food recipes that my humans make for me, I’ll add them to the list. They have to pass the Jax taste test though. I won’t share just any old random recipes here. I wouldn’t do that to you!
These are a few of my favorites. I hope your dog enjoys them as much as I do.
While you’re at it, humans, you should try to make sure your diet is just as balanced as your dog’s. We want to live a happy and healthy life with you.
Nutrition is a vital part of our longevity, well being, and continued playful performance as your four-legged best friend. Do your research. You know us better than anyone and we trust that you will always have our best interest at heart!
And as always, continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies…often!
Love you guys,
P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.
What Happens If My Dog Eats Too Much Protein?
If you refer to the table above, you’ll notice that puppies require more protein than adult dogs. This is because puppies need the extra protein to support their overall growth phase.
Protein, as a generalized macronutrient is made up of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and is essential for daily function and overall growth.
But can your dog eat too much protein?
Your adult dog only needs 18-20% of their daily total calories to come from protein sources. The other 80-82% would be split among fats and carbohydrates. If your dog consumes too much protein they have no immediate use for it, nor can they store it for later energy expenditure. Instead their body must excrete the left over protein through their kidneys and passed out of their body through their urine.
It’s also important to note that the quality of your dog’s protein sources are more important than the amount of protein.
Be careful with these conglomerate dog food companies selling the “dogs are carnivores” lie to you. This simply isn’t true. Cats are carnivores, but dogs are omnivores – like you. This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t let your dog eat your cats food.
Do Vegan Dogs Live Longer?
A vegan diet has natural anti-inflammatory properties. This is extremely beneficial to dogs, especially as they age and begin to have joint and arthritis related issues.
Dogs who have switched to a vegan diet go on to live well into their late teen years and some even into their twenties.
This longevity has even been observed in breeds with historically shorter life expectancies.
This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.