Feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet keeps him healthy at every life stage. Dry kibble and canned food can provide the important nutrients he needs on a daily basis, but vitamins and minerals can also be derived from the food humans eat. Dog-friendly vegetables and fruits are now given as part of meals or snacks, especially by dog owners who have adopted a vegan lifestyle. As a responsible paw parent, you may be thinking, “Can my dog eat vegan food? Can he thrive by only eating vegan-based meals?”
In this Waldo’s Friends blog post, we find out:
- What is veganism?
- What is vegan food made from?
- Can dogs thrive on a purely vegan diet?
- Which vegan food can be eaten by dogs?
This article is meant to inform dog owners about safe vegan options to give to their pets. However, this should not replace a consultation with your veterinarian, who can give a clearer picture of what your dog needs based on his age and health conditions.
What is veganism?
Veganism is a way of life that “attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it from food, clothing, or any other purpose.” A vegan—a person who follows this philosophy—may refrain from supporting animal-based products due to ethical, health, or environmental reasons.
Veganism can be practised in many ways, most notably through what people consume and purchase. Cosmetics and skin care that do not test on animals and, at the same time, do not contain animal-derived ingredients or by-products are examples of vegan products.
What is vegan food made from?
Vegans make it a point to avoid all types of food taken from animals. These include meat, chicken, fish, shellfish, insect, honey, egg, and dairy products. Animal-derived ingredients are also avoided such as gelatin, pepsin, shellac, and whey.
Though it seems like there are many limitations to what vegans can eat, vegans actually enjoy a variety of plant-based food consisting of vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, seeds, nuts, and grains. Vegan substitutes are also offered for meat, cheese, milk, and desserts.
Can dogs thrive on a purely vegan diet?
Dogs are omnivores that have the ability to eat plant and animal matter, and convert them into energy and nutrients. Though it is possible for dogs to eat particular vegan food, it may be a challenge to feed them a strictly vegan diet. For example, essential amino acids such as taurine and L-carnitine may not be enough when consumed from plant-based protein. In the long run, the lack of these important nutrients may cause your dog to have heart diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy. Other issues that may arise include developing food allergies or having difficulty in digesting plant matter.
Despite these obstacles, it is possible for your pet to thrive on a vegan-based diet that is created by your veterinarian. Your vet will recommend the best diet plan suitable to your dog’s age (puppy, adult, and senior) and condition (pregnant, nursing, or with existing health concerns). Remember that instead of homemade vegan food, it is best to buy vegan dog food and treats approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or similar entities. That way, you can be assured that the food is carefully balanced and fulfills all his nutritional requirements.
Which vegan food can be eaten by dogs?
For paw parents interested in feeding vegan-friendly food to their canines, check out this list of plant-derived options to find out if they’re safe for dogs to eat:
Beans are rich in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants. However, not all types are safe for dogs to eat. Black beans, butter beans, chickpeas, green beans, edamame, soybeans, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, and lentils can be eaten by dogs as long as they are prepared and cooked properly. On the other hand, baked beans, canned beans, fava beans, refried beans, and chili beans should not be given to dogs.
A type of inactive yeast, nutritional yeast comes from sugarcane and beet molasses. The yellow-coloured powder or flake may be consumed by most dogs in limited amounts.
Originating from China, seitan is a meat substitute that can occasionally be given to dogs that are not allergic to wheat.
It is not advisable to give tofu to dogs. This soy milk-based dish may cause gas or bloating, and may trigger food-based allergies.
This meat substitute can come from various plant-based sources such as peas, potatoes, seitan, tempeh, tofu, and soy protein. However, vegan bacon is not recommended for dogs since it is packed with sodium and other potentially harmful ingredients.
Tempeh is created from cultured and fermented soybeans, which are shaped into compact cakes. Just like tofu, it is not advisable to feed this common meat alternative to dogs. Most commercially sold tempeh contain ingredients such as salt, onion, and garlic that are toxic for canines.
Refrain from feeding your dog vegan cheese as it may come from nuts, soy, and vegetable oil that are unsafe for canines.
Available in powder, capsule, and tablet form, soy protein can be fed to dogs to assist in their weight, metabolic diseases, cancer, and hormone-related conditions. It is not recommended for dogs allergic to soy, pregnant and nursing dogs, and those with health issues that may be aggravated by it.
Vegan Ice Cream
It is best to avoid giving vegan ice cream to your pooch, especially if you are unsure about its ingredients. Though the coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk used can be consumed by your pooch in limited amounts, its flavourings and toppings (such as chocolate, coffee, raisins, and macadamia) may be poisonous.
Made with wheat protein, tofu, white beans, or seitan, vegan turkey often contains large amounts of salt, onion, and garlic. It is not appropriate for dogs to ingest it.
Veggie Hot Dogs
Vegetarian hot dogs usually consist of soy protein, pea protein, or wheat gluten. The ingredients typically used to add flavour to the hot dogs are not safe for canines. As such, this meat alternative should be avoided.
Get your veterinarian’s approval before changing your dog’s food and feeding him anything new. Close supervision by your vet ensures that the vegan meals and treats you provide your dog will support all his needs. It might also take some time for your dog to get used to the taste and texture of vegan alternatives, so be patient when making the switch. Additionally, some alterations in his diet may result in skin, coat, and excretion changes that may take months to appear, so stay vigilant.
Whatever your reasons are for giving vegan food to your dog, it is vital that you prioritise his well-being. If he develops intolerances to particular ingredients or is unable to break down these hard-to-digest plant matter, you must work with your vet to adjust your dog’s diet.
Visit our blog for more vegan-related posts. You can find face, body, fashion, kitchen, home, and travel gift options for vegans. We’ve also rounded up makeup brands that are certified vegan and cruelty-free.