Why would a responsible dog parent actively choose to feed their dog a vegan diet? Some believe that choosing a vegan diet for your pup is an act of misplaced ethics because it holds your own morals (not killing animals) above your pet's best interests (eating an animal-based diet).
This assumption does not take into account all that we know about vegan diets for dogs based on nutrition and research, not to mention their decades of success on the market. (Vegan diets for dogs first became commercially available in the 1980s, and demand has been growing ever since.) We're here to debunk some of the common arguments against feeding your dog vegan.
"My dog's health is my top priority. I'm not going to risk it by choosing a vegan diet."
Choosing a nutritionally complete vegan diet is not irresponsible from a health standpoint. Any diet you choose should meet AAFCO guidelines, which ensures that your pup will be receiving the nutrient levels they need to form a balanced diet. Both meat-based and plant-based diets can meet AAFCO standards.
Many dogs experience health improvements on a vegan diet, especially related to allergies, digestion, and inflammation. Dogs are more likely to be allergic to animal proteins than they are to grains, which means that they often see major relief in their symptoms when meat is removed from their diet.
"I'm vegan myself, but I would never force my beliefs on my dog."
Although some dog parents may choose to feed their pups vegan for ethical reasons, choosing a vegan diet for your dog does not mean that you are putting your ethics above their health and happiness. Would it be more responsible to feed them a food made from slaughterhouse byproducts that have been deemed unfit for human consumption? You can learn more about the meat used in pet food here.
Feeding your dog a plant-based diet is a case where your ethics and your pet's health can align. If there's a food that your dog loves to eat that provides all the nutrients they need without killing other animals, isn't this the ideal choice?
"Even if vegan diets are okay for dogs, meat-based diets are still optimal."
During his 50 years as a veterinarian, Dr. Richard Pitcairn saw an unfortunate trend in his canine patients. "Very often dogs are presented to the veterinarian with persistent, chronic, and difficult to treat conditions," he says. "It is now estimated that of all dogs over the age of two, 50% will develop cancer in their lives. The food sources that contain, by far, the highest amount of toxic chemicals are meat, bones, and other animal products." Dr. Pitcairn began recommending plant-based diets to his patients and witnessed noticeable improvements in their chronic conditions.
The notion that dogs require meat is so deep-rooted in the pet food industry that we accept it as fact despite abounding evidence that dogs can thrive (and heal) on vegan diets. Even if ethical concerns were to be set aside, meat-based diets should not be held as the gold standard.
"No one would feed their dog vegan if they weren't vegan themselves."
There are other reasons, besides ethics, that dog parents choose vegan. Vegan diets are an excellent option for protein-sensitive dogs, dogs with digestive issues, and dogs suffering from joint pain as they age. "All dogs can benefit from a vegan diet," says veterinarian Dr. Lorelei Wakefield. "Modern day canines often have obesity, food allergies or diabetes — most of which can be prevented and sometimes cured with vegan diets."
Learn more about making the switch to a vegan diet on our Vegan Dogs 101 page →
At v-dog, we've seen dogs thrive on our plant-based kibble and treats since 2005. Learn more about how you can switch your pup to a vegan diet here! Plus, read hundreds of stories from happy, healthy vegan pups on our testimonials page.
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