You’re probably living a vegan lifestyle.
You don’t like feeding your canine companion regular dog food made out of meat and animal ingredients. You’re also aware of the ethical dilemma.
You’re considering switching to cruelty-free, super healthy vegan dog food, however, you’re unsure of how to go about planning to keep your dog healthy on vegetables.
You’ll be surprised to learn (just like many other folks are) that dogs can enjoy vibrant health on vegetarian meals. Their physical condition also actually improves when meat is eliminated from their diet.
Here is what you need to know about making the switch to vegan dog food.
Should You Make the Switch?
If you go by their genus, dogs are classified as carnivorous. When you take a closer look at their metabolism, however, they’re actually considered omnivorous. This means that a plant-based diet can meet their nutritional requirements. They’re perfectly capable of synthesizing and sourcing all the nutrients they need from plant foods with supplements.
Like humans, dogs are omnivores and they can survive–not just survive, but thrive on a vegan diet. Some even require it to address certain health issues.
GirlieGirlArmy, a vegan blogger, used to have trouble with her Chow/Shepherd mix, named Knish, and her queasy stomach. She claims that meat nearly killed her dog. She would try different meat-based commercial brands but to no avail. He would suffer from constant vomiting and diarrhea.
Now that Knish has made the switch to vegan dog food, she says “Knish is the perfect weight, in perfect health, and fit as a fiddle – lean and muscular – with a nice shiny coat. And I might add, his breath is awesome.”
Meat-based dog food products are filled with animal parts unfit for consumption.
NaturalNews.com shares what’s really in dog food,
“Pet food provides a convenient way for slaughterhouse offal [internal organs], grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, heads, hooves, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.”
Look at the Nutritional Content
Don’t forget to check that any commercial dog food you purchase fully meets your dog’s nutritional needs before you take out your wallet. The same goes for when you’re whipping up your own vegan dog food. You still need to ensure that the diet fulfills their nutritional needs.
Dr. Cailin R. Heinze, a certified animal nutritionist and Assistant Professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University discusses how home-cooked vegetarian dog meals are usually lacking:
“Home-cooked vegetarian diets tend to have much bigger nutritional concerns than commercial diets—many of the ones that I’ve seen are quite protein deficient, as well as lacking in other essential nutrients.”
To make sure that the homemade meat-free diet you prepare is complete in nutrients for your furry friend, find a certified animal nutritionist through the American College of Veterinary Nutrition’s directory. They can help you design the best meal plan for your dog’s nutritional needs, and they’ll tell you which foods your dog should avoid at all costs.
The Best Vegan Dog Food Ingredients
Vegan dog food should mostly be made up of oats, lentils, soybeans, rice, and sweet potatoes.
If your dog tends to suffer from allergies, reach for the pinto beans and sweet potatoes. Also, check that when you’re making the switch to vegan dog food, these superfood ingredients are in it:
- Blackstrap molasses
- Soy protein isolate
- Wheat germ
Get in Touch with Your Vet
If you’re making a sudden change in diet, it’s always best to be cautious. Check with your vet and keep a close eye on your pup as you make the switch to vegan dog food.
Protein is an important nutrient in your dog’s diet. Most commercial dog foods’ protein comes from meat sources, so make sure that their vegetarian diet contains enough amounts of other types of protein.
Your dog is an omnivore, so they can digest vegetables, beans, eggs, and dairy, including cheese. (Although, you might want to drop the eggs and dairy if you’re going on a truly vegan diet for your dog).
If you slowly transition them to their new vegetarian diet, they’ll be able to get used to it with little gastrointestinal problems.
“The important thing is that you use a diet that has been shown to be nutritionally adequate for whatever stage of life you’re feeding, and it is absolutely possible to find a good quality commercial pet food that doesn’t have animal products in it,” says veterinarian Kathryn E. Michel, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
You can also cook meals from scratch. Just make sure you consult with a credentialed dog nutrition expert for a balanced diet.
A complete and wholesome, healthy vegan dog food diet has numerous benefits.
As stated on the Harbingers of a New Age website:
“Studies and numerous case reports have shown that nutritionally sound vegetarian companion animal diets appear to be associated with the following health benefits: increased overall health and vitality, decreased incidences of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism, ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice, and mites), improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, arthritis regression, diabetes regression and cataract resolution.”
Transitioning to a Vegan Diet for Dogs
First, talk to your veterinarian about your dog food’s ingredients. See if there are any supplements that your dog might need that isn’t found in vegetarian sources. Especially when it comes to homemade vegetarian foods, they’ll require supplements with minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.
Afterwards, you may buy commercial vegan dog food, like Ketunpet, which is a complete diet for dogs. Or, you can prepare the food yourself.
If you’re preparing homemade vegan dog food, add some supplements which you can find at pet supply stores or online. Check whether the supplements have been approved by a veterinarian.
Make sure that the transition to the new dog food is slow, over the period of two weeks to a month. This decreases the chance of any unwanted reaction or stomach upset because of the new food. Begin by feeding them ¼ of a portion of the new food, combined with ¾ of a portion of the food they’re used to. Keep adding the vegan dog food to that amount while decreasing his old dog food by ¼ every three to five days. In the meantime, closely monitor how they react.
If you find that your dog experiences loose stool or a tummy ache, allow a few more days for every transition to slow down the process.
Bring your dog to a vet for a complete blood panel after a couple of months on their new meal plan. This test will let you know whether they are getting enough nutrients. The vet will also perform physical examinations, checking your dog’s coat and weight for any signs that you should discontinue the diet. Continue checking in with your veterinarian every six months.
When Your Dog Isn’t Having Any of It
Sometimes, your dog doesn’t know what’s in his bowl, so they become picky. The food might be a new consistency or texture that they’re not used to, so they won’t even try it. Attempt to make the new food appear similar to their old food, which makes it more enticing while they’re transitioning to the new vegan dog food.
Do you like to give your dog enticements when they don’t eat? We know that you get worried when they ignore their food but this just teaches them that snubbing their food equals tasty treats. So, stop babying your picky eater (even if you really want to).
Maybe it’s the dishware. Some dogs can’t see clearly and a deep, round bowl makes them anxious because it’s dark and difficult for them to see into. Some dogs particularly dislike it when their whiskers touch the sides of the bowl, and a plate or oval-shaped bowl might help make them more comfortable downing their meals.
Also, avoid free feeding your dog or else they won’t be able to develop an appetite. Do you like to feed your dog small amounts of food throughout the day? When your dog nibbles on small amounts throughout the day, it’s unhealthy for them. This causes kidney problems, pH imbalances, poor digestion, and metabolic problems.
Over to You
Making the switch to vegan dog food is totally easy and even recommended.
Just make sure that you feed them the right kind of food, whether homemade or commercial vegan dog food.
Their vegan diet should be complete and balanced for a long, happy, and healthy life!