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Vegetarian and Vegan Diets for Dogs


As more feeding choices come onto the market, people's awareness around their pet's diet, the ingredients, sourcing of the food and principles come into play when choosing a diet for their dog.  One of the newest diets that some pet owners are choosing for their dog is to go the vegetarian or vegan route, but is this a good choice for your dog? 

Can feeding your dog a vegetarian or vegan diet  be done safely without compromising the health or the longevity of your dog? In short, the answer is no.

Let's review some anatomy first; Dogs have teeth to grasp and rip their prey and the jaws to engulf their prey. Their mouths don't look anything like the herbivores they often consume. Dogs are Facultative Carnivores. Everything about a dog's anatomy, from its forward facing eyes, the shape of its jaw, its teeth, their short digestive system and DNA means they are primarily meat-eaters and thrive on sources of real meat.

Although science is showing that 10 genes have adapted in the whole genome sequencing between wolves and dogs and that slight adaptations have been made in enzymes levels for metabolism in order to help process high starch diets, this doesn't mean dogs should be fed as an herbivore.

Herbivores, designed by nature to just eat plant material, don't have the teeth for apprehending and eating prey. They have big flat teeth that allow them the tedious grinding process of breaking down the fibrous plant material they eat and long gastrointestinal tracts in order to digest their plant based diet.

Can Your Dog Thrive on a Vegetarian or Vegan diet?

The veterinary community doesn't support the feeding of a plant based diet to carnivore pets. They warn that even if this is done for a short term for instance, in allergy elimination, long term there will be problems. 

Studies have shown the reason most owners want to or do feed a vegetarian/vegan diet to their pets is because of their own personal beliefs not the needs of the pet. Dr. Karen Becker calls this out as unethical. "To push your personal nutritional philosophy on another species that doesn't have the biologic requirements is not ethical".

Why is Animal Protein Important? 


Carnivores lack the beneficial bacteria for digesting a full plant based diet. Your dog needs the amino acids found in protein. Proteins are key to your dog's overall health and any protein source should be of a good quality to provide the necessary amino acids. - . Beef, Bison, egg, fish, chicken, turkey, goat, venison, elk and the piece de la resistance that perfect vegetarian, the rabbit.

Amino acids are the building blocks of everything. There is a requirement for 22 essential amino acids and the short digestive tract in dogs is simply not long enough to produce all these amino acids. 

Your dog only makes 12 of the 22 essential amino acids. Therefore it is necessary for your dog's health that it's food must include these essential amino acids. 

These essential amino acids come from animal meats and it's important that these precious protein sources are highly digestible and that your dog has the right bacterial environment to help it digest these protein sources and use the amino acids for it's health. 


More than any other nutrient, fats for carnivores are extremely important for health. Dogs need fats for vitamin absorption. The fats from plants aren't enough to allow complete vitamin absorption. The fundamental aim of fats is to help the body maintain a beautiful coat and healthy skin. Skin is the largest organ so it's essential it's kept in tip top shape.

The greatest source of good fats for your dog comes from the natural animal fat it eats. The real protein sources you feed your dog contain fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. The protein sources you give your dog should be rotated in order for good profiles to be presented to the meat eaters. 

The organs are actually where the real bountiful nutrients are and well herbivores don't eat glands, carnivores do. Most commercial diets for dogs do not even include glands properly in the formulation of their ingredients. The glands; liver, kidney, heart, lung etc. are where the best nutrients reside for your dog.

A vegetarian diet includes no meat, fish or poultry. Vegan diets are even more strict and avoid using any animal by products such as eggs, dairy or honey. Feeding a carnivore pet a plant based diet or a vegetarian diet is controversial for all the right reasons. It's so poorly designed to fulfill the nutritional needs of your dog that even vegetarian veterinarians don't promote feeding carnivores a vegetarian diet as it lacks so many essentials needed for health. 

Where coconut oil is often substituted for the real and correct fats in a vegetarian/vegan diet, a  recent research study found that coconut oil is not a good thing to fill your carnivore dog up with. The long chains of fatty aids in the coconut oil lead to oxidation and cause the health issue of leaky gut syndrome. 

Even alternative options coming from Europe where they've made the first insect based diet for dogs,  are not a viable source of food for your dog either.  They shouldn't be depended on since the man made radiation in our environment has taken down the world's insect population by 80%.


Long chain omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, Vitamin B 12 (which is not available in any plant foods) and D3 are all important nutrients for your dog that are missing in plant based diets.

Essential vitamins such as Vitamin D are not found in a plant based diet. Cod liver oil is super high in Vitamin D. Shrimp, wild salmon, sardines, full fat dairy products and egg yolks are excellent sources of Vitamin D but none of these sources are from plants.

Omega 3s, DHA's and EPA's from protein sources, especially from fish are necessary for your dog's health. 

Vitamin B12 found in meat can be substituted for a small period of time from just algae sources rather than protein, but it's not a good long term choice for your dog as sources of algae means B12 is generally not bio-available for correct use by your dog's body.

Vitamin A needed for vision, reproduction, the immune system and to help keep your dog's organs functioning properly are readily available in the levels needed from real protein sources your feed your dog. Although plants contain Vitamin A, carnivores can't get all their requirement for this vitamin from plants and fruits alone.

If you're trying to feed your dog a vegetarian/vegan diet, the only way their diet can be formulated to cover all they need from food is by adding in highly synthesized supplements. Synthetics are not a long term solution for your dog's health, especially for something as important as nutrition.  

Whole food nutrition is the foundation of health and certainly the immune system is entirely dependent of good real nutrition. Feeding your dog a vegetarian/vegan diet means it's missing the critical nutrients required for long term health and your dog will show signs of deterioration.

Current information now out about feeding humans a vegan diet is showing via MRI that there is skeletal muscle decreases in just a month. Increased fat or marbling in the muscle with the decrease in skeletal muscle is not a good thing especially when over time more of the same may come. 

Those commercial diets marketing their pet food to the vegetarian/vegan, studies have found the commercial diets are not sufficient and the animals tested on them were coming up with major nutritional deficiencies.  

Diets out there that have been checked have been found to be inadequate for quality protein sources for carnivores, imbalances of certain amino acids such as taurine and l-carnitine, imbalances of fatty acids, in particular arachidonic acids, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and iron (when no meat, bone or other animal products are fed). 

These nutritional deficiencies and imbalances will over time ultimately lead to serious and possibly irreversible medical conditions.

Yes there may be exceptional circumstances for example, a Dalmatian that would be healthier on a plant based diet due to their peculiar tendency to bladder stones makes a low protein diet attractive. However, it would still need a small amount of good quality protein to supply it with the necessary nutrition.

Your dog is a carnivore and knowing that your dog fundamentally needs and will thrive on real sources of protein, is it fair to compromise your pet's health for the sake of your beliefs, especially given that they are solely reliant on your for all their needs? 

NOW, we'd love to hear your feedback so LEAVE A COMMENT and feel free to share this with people you think will love it.

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