Can a Dog Be Vegan?

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Going plant-based is tough in the beginning, so when my husband and I first made the transition, we watched a lot of plant-based movies to keep us motivated. One night we watched Vegucated, a documentary that follows three meat loving New Yorkers who agree to go vegan for six weeks.

Vegucated was different from the other movies we’d seen. Instead of touting the health bennies of eating plant-based, it exposed the shocking horrors of animal agriculture. And let me tell you – what I saw disturbed me.

When I scooped a cup of kibble to feed my dog the next morning, the image I’d seen the night before of chicks being ground up alive popped into my head. Vegucated taught that on factory farms, male chicks are separated from females, and, because they are unable to be raised to lay eggs, are often ground alive and used for dog food.

I felt sick as I fed Mambo that morning, so I later that day I did an online search to see if dogs could go vegan. I found no clear consensus. Some people, including many vets, declared absolutely not, whereas other people spoke of how they’d been feeding their dogs a vegan diet for years.

Although uncertain about it, I transitioned Mambo to Natural Balance Vegan Kibble. This went fine for a few weeks. Then, however; he started throwing up yellow bile every day. I switched him back to his old kibble, and he hasn’t thrown up since.

Maybe it was just the particular kibble I was feeding him, and not a vegan diet, that was making him sick. I don’t know. I’d still like to feed Mambo vegan if I can do so healthfully, so I’m asking: Can a dog be vegan? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Image courtesy of photostock / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
This entry was posted in Animal Welfare, Daily Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Can a Dog Be Vegan?

  1. Renard Moreau says:

    [ Smiles ] Of course they can! Check out this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mULPwaT1xR4

    • Thank you so much for sharing this link Renard:) I just checked it out, and it was awesome! The vegan poet’s dog looks very healthy on a vegan diet, and she said she’s raised a lot of other vegan dogs. She also shared exactly what she’s feeding her dog, which helps me out a lot. I’m already feeling confident about transitioning my dog. Thanks!!! Celeste:)

  2. Have you looked at Veggie Pets? It’s a brilliant mail order pet food company (http://www.veggiepets.com/). I don’t know whether they send stuff abroad but there must be an equivalent in the US. Anyway, if you have a look on the site it will give you an idea of the vast range of veggie/vegan pet supplies that are available. We fed our dog (a springer/collie cross) on a nutritionally complete dry vegetarian food and he lived happily and healthily to a ripe old age 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the link Violet – I checked it out and it looks great! I don’t think I can order from them, but it gives me confidence to know that there are good vegan dog food companies out there. Mostly, however; it really helps me to know that you fed your dog vegan and that he lived a long happy life. I guess it really was the particular brand of kibble I was feeding my dog that was the problem. Thanks!! Celeste:)

      • No problem. I can only go by my own experience but I also know of friends that tried but failed to get their dog to go veggie. I guess it depends on the individual – Max was a total scavenger – he loved any food he could get his chops around! 🙂

  3. Greg says:

    Hey Celeste! I am guardian for four cats, and I know that they are not supposed to be fed a vegan diet. I do not know dogs well, but I have heard that dogs can be fed a vegan diet. I know that doesn’t help you much, but maybe it will give you some support?

    • I appreciate the support Greg! I’m feeling more confident about trying a vegan diet for my dog again. I’ve been referred to a couple of sites that actually tell you what to feed a vegan dog, which helps a lot. Celeste:)

  4. Maryanne says:

    Hi Celeste! My friend Ivonne feeds her dogs a vegan diet. You may want to reach out to her. Her blog is: http://ivonnemontijo.wordpress.com/

    • Thanks so much for helping me out Maryanne! I’ll definitely contact your friend – thanks! Celeste:) Oh, and good luck with your book – it sounds like it’s going to be fab!

  5. Poppy says:

    Hi Celeste. I study animal nutrition. It is absolutely fine for your dog to be fed a vegan diet. Unlike cats which are classed as obligatory carnivores, dogs are omnivores and can survive and thrive on a plant based diet. The difference is that cats body systems don’t allow for the production of certain essential fatty and amino acids needed to function thus must eat them preformed. Dogs can utilize plant matter more efficiently to produce what they need.

    You have two options; try a different brand of commercial vegan food or make your own. You can feed a mixture of beans and lentils, rice and vegetables. If you opt for commercial foods, just ensure it says that it is ‘complete’ and contains all the nutrition your dog needs such as all the essential amino acids. Also, you can try Vegedog supplement which I’ve heard good things about. It ensures on top of the food that the full nutritional profile is consumed by your dog.

    In any case, you need to gradually introduce the new diet as sudden change can be very disrupting to the digestive system.

    Hope this helps, good luck!!

    Poppy

    • Thank you so much Poppy! Since you’ve got authority on the subject I feel very confident about transitioning my dog to a vegan diet now. I’m going to do research on vegan kibble, but I’ll probably also feed him fresh cooked food as well. Right now I only give my dog 50% kibble and I give him a mixture of potatoes and vegetables for the rest his meal. From what you’ve said here, however; it sounds like I should be giving my dog beans, lentils, rice and vegetables instead of potatoes. That’s good to know and may be where I was going wrong. I’m going to start transitioning my dog as soon as his food is gone. Yea – I’m so excited to know that I can feed my dog vegan! Celeste:)

    • Thanks again Poppy! I’ve already started adding lentils to my dogs food to start the transition. It’s going great – he love the lentils! Celeste:)

    • Thanks so much for asking to see a photo of Mambo (it’s a good thing you didn’t ask me in person because I would have shown you A LOT of photos!). Anyway, you can see my favorite photo of him on this post: http://honkifyourevegan.com/2013/02/25/re-discovering-freesoulcaffe/. There’s also an action photo on this post: http://honkifyourevegan.com/2013/03/09/were-not-in-hayward-anymore/ Thanks Poppy!

  6. I ve heard good things about transitioning a dog to a vegan diet! But I haven’t tried it myself, though it will definitely be considered when I get another dog! (if I can convince my partner)!

    • Thanks so much for your comment Suzi! After reading all of the encouraging comments people have left, I feel very confident that I can transition my dog to a vegan diet. I also feel like I know what to feed him now. I’m going to start the transition soon! And I really hope you can convince your partner to get a dog. They just make life so much more joyful – well, most of the time anyway:-)

  7. Wow, just read this and read through the comments. I’ve been wondering the same thing lately, especially after reading an article on Slate saying that dead dogs are in dog food! Blah! I was wondering, are you going to write a follow-up post on how you transitioned your dog and how it worked out for you?

    • Hey there! I’ve already started transitioning Mambo to a vegan diet. Because he had problems the last time I did it, I’m doing it very slowly. Once he’s fully transitioned, I plan to write a post about what I’m feeding him and why I believe it’s a healthy diet for a dog. And I’ll do another post a month or two after that to report how he’s doing on the diet. I’m feeling very confident that he can be healthy on a vegan diet if I do it properly. By the way, I never heard about dogs being in dog food. Ugh – that’s horrible! Hope all is well with you and I hope you enjoyed San Diego. Celeste:)

      • That sounds awesome – thank you!! I’m sure Dali would appreciate it if she were vegan too. She loves to eat the grass in the yard so maybe she’s craving veggies – lol! Hope all is well with you too! ~Alison

  8. Gator Woman says:

    Love this all~ Thank you for posting it.

    • I’m glad you liked this post! I now fully believe that a dog can be healthy on a vegan diet and am in the process of transitioning my dog. I’ll write another post once my dog is vegan to share what I’m feeding him and how it’s going. Thanks so much for your comment! Celeste:)

  9. Pingback: My Dog’s Gone Vegan! | Honk If You're Vegan

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