It’s a little-known and much-confused fact that, while man’s best friend belongs to the order Carnivora, the domesticated dog is an omnivore. This means Fido can lead a healthy, happy life on a plant-based diet – just like us!
Dogs’ bodies have the ability to transform certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into the proteins they need, meaning their amazing little bodies can create them from plants while completely avoiding meat.
It’s important to note that while dogs can lead happy, healthy lives without meat, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they cannot get the nutrients they need from plants alone. It is not safe to feed your cat a diet that does not contain meat.
Much of our thoughts on dogs’ eating habits are influenced by dog food advertising, which touts meat and less “filler”, or images of wolves surrounding a kill. But even wild wolves eat the grains from the stomachs of their prey and are known to eat the occasional berry during their travels, meaning their bodies are equipped to process plant foods.
When you look at the inner workings of your dog’s digestive system, it lends some insight into why dogs can be classified as omnivores – because meat is very easy to digest and doesn’t require much effort to break down, the intestinal tracts of true carnivores like cats tend to be very short.
Humans, horses, pigs, and dogs have slightly longer intestinal tracts, as plant matter takes more time and effort to break down and extract every last nutrient from fruits, vegetables, and grains.
This means that, from a health perspective alone, your dog can thrive on a completely plant-based diet (of course, with the right ratio of nutrients to meet his needs). For vegans, the health and safety of their dog are only one side of the coin.