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Is a Vegan Diet Safe for Dogs?
Can dogs be vegan? Technically speaking, yes, but the bigger question is whether or not a vegan diet is safe for your dog.
Unlike cats, dogs are able to process a vegan diet because they can be considered omnivores, (although there is a lot of debate around that idea). Some dogs are even allergic to animal proteins, and a vegan diet might be the best option to ensure they don’t run into any health dangers with what they’re eating.
For humans, a vegan diet is rich in benefits, and if you are a vegan you know firsthand how great those benefits are. Why shouldn’t you be able to extend those benefits to your dog?
On the surface, it can feel like a great idea at first. But dogs don’t process their food the same way as people, and they need different types and amounts of essential nutrients in order to stay healthy. So, can dogs be vegan? Let’s take a deeper look at what a dog’s diet needs to have.
The reason that dogs are technically able to take on a vegan diet is that their bodies are equipped to receive their essential nutrients from both plants and animals. While cats lose several key nutrients with a vegan diet, dogs are actually able to get everything they need from plants. However, meat is widely regarded as the source where dogs can get the most protein.
Every vegan loves being asked where they get their protein from, and this doesn’t change when you consider switching your dog to a vegan diet. The big things that a dog will miss are the proteins and fats that they’d normally receive from animal products. Dogs need their diets to be about 15 to 30 percent protein. While it’s pretty easy for humans to prove all the places they’re able to get protein, for dogs it’s a little harder. Especially because a few that they need — keratin, elastin, and collagen — are almost impossible to derive from a vegan diet.
Everything else that dogs need to have a healthy diet can be derived from plant-based foods though. Yet dog owners should be aware that while there are a number of fruits and vegetables that dogs love to munch on, there’s an equal amount that you should, under no circumstances, feed your dog. Grapes, which cause renal failure, are one of the most commonly known toxic foods for dogs.
What Problems Could Dogs Face on a Vegan Diet?
A lack of protein and vitamin and mineral deficiency are two of the biggest potential problems that dogs could face on a vegan diet. This is why it’s so crucial to pay careful attention to what your dog is eating while they’re vegan, because it’s easy to miss something. Unfortunately for dogs, with a vegan diet there’s not a ton of room for error, so if you’re not feeding your dog the correct nutrients, they could be at risk for potential health problems.
Deficiencies basically cause your dog’s body to deteriorate because their body is no longer getting key factors that it needs to function properly. Depending on the severity of the type of deficiency and when it’s caught, these health issues could even be life-threatening.
If you want to feed your dog a vegan diet, the best way to make sure he’s getting all the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that he needs is to work with a pet nutritionist. They’ll be able to help you come up with a specific diet for your dog that checks all the boxes for what your dog needs to remain healthy while eating vegan.
If you aren’t able to see a pet nutritionist, there are vegan dog foods available that are formulated to have everything your dog needs. Brands like V-Dog offer plant-based nutrition for dogs that are adjusting to a vegan diet.
You’ll also want to make sure that you talk to your vet before and after you switch your dog to a vegan diet. If your dog can go vegan, your vet will be able to offer appropriate advice for how and what to feed your dog, as well as suggest any tests that should be done to ensure that your dog isn’t becoming deficient in any of the essential vitamins or nutrients that he needs. At the end of the day, your dog’s health is always your top concern, and it’s better to give your dog what their body was designed to eat, rather than having them follow the same dietary regimen as you. With the exception being if your dog is allergic to animal proteins, a vegan diet is sustainable for dogs, but not always the best option. Your dog’s health should always come first, so discuss your concerns with your vet to make sure you’re taking the best path forward.