Dogs are opportunistic feeders -- throughout their evolutionary history as a domesticated species, they have sustained themselves on a variety of different foods, both plant- and animal-based. Because they are so easily adaptable, it can be difficult to pin down their "ideal" diet.
Given the prevalence of chronic diseases in modern-day dogs (think: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure), it's worth considering not only the short-term nutritional adequacy of a diet, but also its effects on longevity. A standard meat-based kibble diet may be considered nutritionally complete, but how does it affect a dog's long-term health?
Properly balanced vegan diets are easily digestible for dogs and are growing in popularity due to health and ethical concerns. Let's take a look at these diets in the context of longevity.
What do veterinarians say?
According to Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, VMD, "Dogs in India have largely been vegetarian for thousands of years and we have not seen any systemic illness as a result. Modern day canines often have obesity, food allergies or diabetes - most of which can be prevented and sometimes cured with vegan diets."
Similarly, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, has noted a common trend in his canine patients. "Very often dogs are presented to the veterinarian with persistent, chronic, and difficult-to-treat conditions. It is now estimated that of all dogs over the age of two, that 50% of them will develop cancer in their lives."
Taking a look at the standard dog diet, which is chock-full of animal products and byproducts, Dr. Pitcairn discovered that what we're feeding our dogs contains shocking levels of toxins due to bioaccumulation up the food chain. "The food sources that contain, by far, the highest amount of toxic chemicals are meat, bones and other animal products," he says. Upon switching to a nutritionally complete plant-based diet, many of his patients noticeably improved their condition.
What do dog parents say?
Vegan diets for dogs have been on the market for decades, and pet parents are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits. Not only are these diets beneficial for senior dogs (they have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help with conditions such as arthritis), but dogs who switch to a vegan diet often go on to live into their late teens and early twenties -- even in breeds with a much shorter life expectancy.
Sydney, a 19-year-old vegan dog, has not experienced the health decline that is typical for dogs in their teens. "We may pay a little more than economy brands, but the money saved in vet bills is worth it," says Sydney's guardian, Sandy. "And a happy, healthy senior dog...priceless."
Seven, a vegan dog who lived to age 20, received A+ checkups at the vet and had perfect bloodwork up until his recent passing. His mom, Jill, attributed his excellent health to many years on a plant-based diet.
Bramble, a vegan collie in the UK, lived to age 25 on a plant-based diet and is recognized as one of the longest-living dogs in the Guinness Book of World Records. Her guardian, Anne Heritage, has raised seven vegan dogs, and five of them lived past 19 years old.
Given that plant-based diets reduce the risk of inflammatory conditions and accumulation of toxins in the body, it isn't surprising that vegan dogs around the world are active and healthy in their golden years. Learn more about the benefits of a vegan diet for dogs below:
V-dog is a vegan owned and operated family business in San Francisco that makes healthy kibble and treats for your pooch. Not only does a plant-based diet save lives and minimize your pup's environmental impact, it also provides all the nutrition they need to thrive. (Plus, it tastes amazing...just ask these dogs!) Learn more about what we do at v-dog.com.
Curious about a vegan diet for your pup? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the links below to get started!