by The Doggess
Well over 10 million people in North America consider themselves vegetarian (and millions more flexitarians).
An estimated 1 in 4 veggie households are dog loving ones. That means there are literally millions of peeps wondering if Fluffy or Fido could thrive on lentils too.
This is a vast subject, but if you are interested in learning some of the details about veggie diets for dogs - for reasons of health concerns, animal rights, environmental issues with factory farming, or food sensitivities (a growing epidemic) - here’s the skinny.
Over 25 years ago I began my search on this topic. As an athlete, bodybuilder and Personal Trainer, I was thoroughly enjoying a healthy, veg lifestyle myself, I knew that when I did get a dog one day, I wanted her to enjoy the same plant-based diet.
By the time I got my border collie Shanti 11 years ago, I was convinced of the benefits based on the veterinarian literature available at the time.
Now 11 dog years of age, Shanti has only been to the vet for a few routine physicals (and once after an unfortunate meeting with a camouflaged cement wall while chasing frisbees), and her high-spirited, keen border collie energy is the same today as it was when she 2 years old.
Now, you may be thinking, “But dogs that eat regular animal-based food can also be in great shape at 11 years old”. Precisely my point; both plant-powered and animal-based diets can result in a healthy dog, and my goal here is to give you some confidence-building facts.
If you are wondering, on a nutritional level, if your dog can thrive on a veggie diet (our own beliefs aside), the answer is a definite “Yes”.
“Dogs are in fact generally believed to be omnivores and are more correctly labeled as opportunistic feeders. In other words, they can and do consume and receive nourishment from a variety of foods of both animal and vegetable origin.” - John Hilton, Canadian Veterinary Journal (Aug 1987)*
“Dogs require specific nutrients, not specific feedstuffs.” – National Research Council (1985) Nutrient Requirements of Dogs, National Academy Press: Washington*.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 2009, showed very promising results with their research on exercising sprint sled dogs fed a meat-free diet.
A recent testament of veggie dog nutrition came from pioneering practitioner, Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM (a vegetarian herself ) who is considered one of the most respected veterinarians in the world serving the industry and her peers for over 47 years. She is also a hematologist and research scientist.
When I personally asked Dr. Dodds, “Do you think a veggie diet is good for dogs?” She quickly responded with a resounding. “Of course!”. Important to note if you are concerned about your dog’s food sensitivities.
Vegan dog nutrition is not all about choice or philosophy, your dog may have an actual sensitivity to animal by-product protein and your vet may have recommended a vegan diet to solve the problem.
You are not alone, there is a growing epidemic of food sensitivities and illnesses due to the low quality of many commercial pet foods filled with a plethora of questionable, toxic ingredients. Since research into plant-based diets for humans is still an emerging science, the same is even truer for veggie dog research.
Thanks to consumer demand and a rise in food sensitivity issues due to high protein in typical commercial brand dog foods, we will begin to see evidence mounting by credible research in the not too distant future.
Lastly, a vegan dog article would not be complete without noting Bramble, she was officially recorded as one of the oldest dogs in the world, living to the ripe old age of 28 on a plant-based diet and Tykie, yet another testament to this diet choice for dogs. She was a mixed breed in the US who lived to be 24 and is also listed as one of the oldest dogs in the world on Wikipedia.
In summary, I always default to this: Mother Nature’s wisdom yields more power than we can imagine.
Do your homework, eat your veggies, share them with your dog or doggess, and live a life filled with peace, love and health for all.
~ Peace, love and dogs!
The Animal Poison Control Center offers a list of
People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets this holiday season, and oddly enough milk and meat are on that list.
Milk because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose), and raw/undercooked meat, eggs and bones (also a risk for choking), as they can be a source of bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.
Included in that list are chocolate, avocados, macadamia nuts, large quantities of onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, nutmeg, uncooked yeast dough, artificial sweeteners and too much salt.
Laura Simonson (aka The Doggess) is a relentless entrepreneur, speaker and writer on a life mission to inspire all women, men and their dogs to give the “New Veg” and world peas a chance.
Join her as she embarks on an extraordinary adventure to release the hounds on old beliefs unjustly placed upon a veg lifestyle.
You can meet up with Laura and her wild-eyed border collie Shanti at: