Can Dogs Get their Amino Acids from a Vegan Diet?

Like humans, dogs have a requirement for protein in their diets, but not all protein is created equal. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, each serving an important function in the body. Can a dog's amino acid requirement be met with a fully meatless diet?

Essential amino acids

Dogs require ten amino acids in their diets:

  • Arginine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

These are considered "essential amino acids" for dogs, since their bodies are unable to synthesize them. All ten of these amino acids are found in plant protein.

"Some people think dogs need meat for the right proteins and amino acids," says Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, VMD. "There are 20 amino acids present in proteins, and 10 of those are essential for dogs. This means they need to consume them in their diet because their bodies don’t make them. A nutritionally balanced diet, such as v-dog, supplies these essential amino acids. The important factor, according to the NRC (National Research Council), is that dogs require specific nutrients, not specific feedstuffs."

When a complete and balanced vegan dog food is formulated, each amino acid level is tested. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires that dog foods contain the ten essential amino acids in levels that are appropriate for proper nutrition.

What about taurine?

Taurine is not considered an essential amino acids for dogs, although some individuals and breeds are unable to synthesize their own taurine and must obtain it from their diet. For this reason, many dog food companies (including v-dog) supplement their formulas with taurine. This supplemental form is the industry standard, and is 100% vegan.

Which is better: animal protein or plant protein?

When it comes to amino acids, both animal and plant-based protein sources provide what dogs require in their diets. However, studies have shown that animal proteins are common food allergens for dogs, and even "exotic" animal protein can pose issues for sensitive pups. Vegan dog foods, by omitting meat and dairy, are inherently hypoallergenic.

Dogs with chronic symptoms like rashes, hot spots, yeast infections, loose stool, constipation, gas, bloating, and eye discharge can benefit from switching to a meat-free diet. Read about sensitive and allergy-prone dogs who have benefited from a vegan diet here.


At v-dog, we use superfoods like lentils, quinoa and oats in our healthy, hearty plant-powered dog food and treats. Check out what we make here! Since 2005, we've seen thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes thrive on our nutritionally balanced kibble

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