Vegan Dog Nutrition: The Basics

Why vegan?

A vegan diet benefits our health, greatly reduces our impact on the planet, and saves countless animals from suffering. People choose a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons, and many pet parents wish to feed their dogs according to these values of compassion, environmentalism, and general wellbeing.

From an ethical standpoint, veganism prevents the breeding, confinement, and slaughter of animals raised for meat and other products. Choosing a vegan lifestyle greatly reduces our use of land, water, energy, and other natural resources -- all of which are required in vast amounts to eat higher on the food chain. From a medical standpoint, veganism has been shown to prevent or reverse heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious health issues.

Can a vegan diet meet all of a dog's nutritional requirements?

Dogs, unlike their wolf ancestors, have evolved to eat an omnivorous diet much like humans. In fact, their ability to digest and make use of starches (plant foods) parallels their evolution alongside humans over thousands of years. Dogs have certain nutritional requirements, and studies show that these can all be met with a vegan diet. As with any diet, a plant-based diet for dogs must be properly balanced and nutritionally complete in order to promote optimal health.


Dogs require ten essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in their diets. These amino acids are necessary for cell functioning such as protein synthesis and the production of enzymes and antibodies. All ten essential amino acids can be provided with a balanced vegan diet.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires a minimum crude protein content of 18% for adult dog maintenance, and 22.5% for growth and reproduction (puppies and pregnant or lactating females). 

Taurine and L-carnitine

Taurine and L-carnitine are amino acids that dogs can obtain through their diets. Both taurine and L-carnitine can be produced using vegan sources and included in a plant-based diet. In fact, supplementation with vegan taurine is the industry standard, even for meat-based kibbles. The naturally-occurring taurine in animal meat is denatured during the heating process and must be re-added (generally in a synthetic form) to prevent nutrient deficiency.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for red blood cell formation, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. It is available in animal tissue, but can also be included in vegan diets in non-animal supplement form.

Can dogs properly digest a vegan diet?

Due to their evolutionary history alongside humans and agriculture, dogs have developed the ability to not only digest plant foods, but also make excellent use of them as a source of nutrition and energy. In a complete and balanced vegan food, macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are available in amounts set by the AAFCO for dog nutrition, just as they are in commercial meat-based foods.

What about dogs with allergies?

Common allergens in dogs include wheat, soy, and animal meat (predominantly chicken and beef). Dogs with allergies, rashes, digestive problems, and other sensitivities can benefit from a diet free of these top allergens. Therefore, many allergy-prone dogs experience a reduction or elimination of symptoms after switching to a complete and balanced, hypoallergenic vegan diet.


V-dog is a 100% plant-based dog food company based in San Francisco, CA. We offer nutritionally complete, AAFCO approved nutrition for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Since 2005, we've seen thousands of dogs thrive on our veterinarian-recommended formula, experiencing health benefits such as improved joint mobility, allergy relief, and better digestion. We're proud to offer top quality pet food while reducing animal suffering and our environmental impact. Learn more about what we do at!

Questions? Check out our FAQ page or email us at

Read hundreds of stories from happy, healthy vegan dogs here!

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