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Ask the Vegan Vet: Phytic Acid

Ask the Vegan Vet: Phytic Acid

"I have a question regarding phytic acid, which is said to inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients (e.g., iron, calcium, etc) from foods. The phytic acid content is particularly high in grains and legumes. Since the first/main ingredients in your kibble are dried peas, brown rice, pea protein concentrate, oats, sorghum, and lentils, how do you address this point?" 

Dear Jamie,

That's a very insightful question. Phytic acid minimally inhibits certain mineral absorption but should not be eliminated from the diet as it is a powerful anti-oxidant. Specifically, it can mildly decrease zinc and iron absorption, but bacteria naturally growing in the intestinal tract tend to break its mineral bonding. In fact, studies show phytic acid may help prevent certain types of cancer in humans - and thus likely in dogs as well. Since V-dog is a well-balanced diet, phytic acid should not have a significant effect on mineral absorption but likely has multiple beneficial effects as shown in the most recent studies on the subject.


All the best,

Lorelei Wakefield, VMD, for V-dog

[Learn more about Dr. Wakefield on our vegan vets page]



Have a question for our vegan vets? Email us at AskTheVet@v-dog.com


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Ask The Vegan Vet: Do Dogs Decline on a Vegan Diet?

Ask The Vegan Vet: Do Dogs Decline on a Vegan Diet?

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your inquiry about vegan dog food. Please see my below responses. 

1.) Because of the short GI tract of dogs, their jaws, and other physiological adaptations to consume meat, how do you rationalize feeding them in a vegan way? It seems their design is that of a facultative carnivore.

That is an excellent question. Dogs are part of the order Carnivora, however they are physiologically omnivores. This is largely because after thousands of years of evolution alongside humankind and eating our food, their bodies have adapted. Studies show that during early domestication, dogs developed key genetic changes that allowed increased starch digestion relative to wolves. Thus they now have the ability to digest carbohydrates better than their wild counterparts.

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.

2.) I have heard that dogs on vegan diets do well for a while, but over time they do not do as well. It seems to be challenging in my mind to provide a species appropriate diet while honoring their genetics. How do you see this?

That is interesting. I'm not sure where you heard that but I have never seen a scientific report to that effect. It is challenging to provide the best species-appropriate diet that honors genetics as well. Let's take human diets for example. One year they told us avoid fat, yet the current dogma is to eat fat and avoid carbs. Unfortunately, we still don't know what the ideal diet is for humans nor do we know this for animals. What we do know is that most dogs can be maintained on a vegan diet and live normal, healthy lives.


I hope that has addressed your concerns. We certainly appreciate and welcome your thoughtful questions.


Lorelei Wakefield, VMD, for V-Dog

[Learn more about Dr. Wakefield on our vegan vets page]



Have a question for our vegan vets? Email us at AskTheVet@v-dog.com



More from our blog:

Do Dogs Need Meat to Thrive?

How to Transition your Dog to a Vegan Diet 


To learn more about a vegan diet for your dog, please visit our websiteFAQ page, or say hello at support@v-dog.com. 




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3 Studies on Vegan Diets for Dogs

3 Studies on Vegan Diets for Dogs

Since 2005, v-dog has seen dogs of all shapes and sizes thrive on our nutritrionally-complete food for dogs. A recent comprehensive study in Animals journal (July 2016) by veterinarian Dr. Andrew Knight highlights the science on vegan dogs. 


"A significant and growing body of population studies and cases suggest that cats and dogs may be successfully maintained on nutritionally sound vegetarian diets long-term, and indeed, may thrive. Such diets have been associated with benefits such as improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, increased overall health and vitality, arthritis regression, diabetes regression, cataract resolution, and decreased incidences of cancer, infections, hypothyroidism and ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites). Deviations from normal ranges within blood test results do occur, but are uncommon, and rarely appear associated with clinical signs of disease." -Dr. Andrew Knight


Study by Semp (2014) 

"Semp studied companion animals in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Owners were sourced using notice boards in veterinary practices, articles in various Facebook forums, and word of mouth. They were asked to complete a questionnaire about their experience feeding their...dogs a vegan diet, which was followed by a clinical examination and blood tests on 20 dogs...that were randomly selected. The standardized clinical examination included assessments of general appearance, body condition, skin and coat, lymph nodes, vital signs; cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems; and defecation. Haematological (complete blood count) and biochemical (liver, kidney, and pancreatic) parameters were assessed, as well as levels of magnesium, calcium, iron, total protein, folic acid, vitamin B12, and carnitine.

174 dog owners [completed the questionnaire]. Animal participants were required to have eaten an exclusively vegan diet for at least six months...Participating dogs had eaten vegan diets for six months to seven years, with a mean of 2.83 years. Thirty-nine percent of participating owners used only commercially-available diets. Nine percent used only homemade diets, and the remaining 52% used mostly commercially-available diets (but regularly mixed these with homemade ingredients). Thirty-eight pet owners independently reported healthier and shinier coats after transitioning to vegan diets. Some animals, previously prone to scaly or oily coats, no longer showed signs of dermatological problems. Sixteen owners described improved odours of their pets. Some also noted increased stool volumes and improvement of stool consistency.

During standardized clinical examinations, no abnormalities were detected that were associated with diet...When considering blood test results, serum total protein of all 20 dogs...studied were within normal ranges...No significant differences were evident in any of the tested parameters, compared to the dogs fed a conventional diet. In particular, lower levels of iron and vitamin B12 in vegan dogs were not observed. Not even the 10% (2/20) dogs fed a homemade supplemented diet showed any significant deviations."





Study by Brown et al. (2009) 

"It is difficult to envision any companion animals placed under greater physical demands than sprint-racing Siberian Huskies. During sprint races, these dogs run fast through snow, while hauling sleds, for much of the 30-mile race duration [53].

In 2009, Brown and colleagues [52] reported the results of a study of 12 sprint-racing Siberian Huskies fed either a commercial diet recommended for active dogs (n = 6), or a meat-free diet formulated to the same nutrient specifications (n= 6). The commercial diet contained 43% poultry meal, which was replaced by maize gluten and soybean meal in the meat-free diet. The dogs were fed these diets for 16 weeks, which included 10 weeks of competitive racing.

Health checks were conducted by a veterinarian blinded to the dietary regimens. All dogs were assessed as being in excellent physical condition, and none developed anaemia or other detectable health problems."



Study by PETA (1994) 

"In 1994, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported results of a systematic survey of the health of 300 vegetarian dogs sourced from 33 states within the U.S. and Canada via PETA’s newsletter [54,55]. Dogs ranged in age from young puppies to 19 years old, and included a wide range of breeds, males and females, both neutered and entire. Of these, 65.3% (196/300) were vegan, with the remaining 34.7% (104/300) simply vegetarian. They had been maintained on these diets for anywhere from less than two, to over nine years, with an average of 5.7 years. The precise diets used, and their level of nutritional adequacy, are unknown. Twenty-eight deceased dogs were included in the survey, with the median age of death being 12.6 years...Over 80% of dogs maintained on vegan or vegetarian diets for 50% to 100% of their lifetimes were reported as being in good to excellent health." 

begging pup



We want the best for your dog. We also want the best for all animals and for this planet we all share. This is why we make 100% complete nutrition for dogs that has all of the healthy, sustainable stuff your dog needs (like clean pea protein, quinoa, lentils and blueberries) without any of the stuff they don’t (animal products, fillers, corn, soy, wheat).  If we can feed our beloved fur babes a food they love without harming other animals in the process, we ask the simple question: why not? 

To learn more, please visit our website, FAQ page, or say hello at support@v-dog.com. 



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Carrageenan: New Peer-Reviewed Research Surfaces

Carrageenan: New Peer-Reviewed Research Surfaces

[via foodnavigator-usa.com]

Carrageenan, a stabilizer and thickening agent extracted from red seaweed, has long been a topic of debate within the scientific community regarding its safety in foods. Certain studies have identified the substance as a possible cause of inflammation, while others have deemed it safe for consumption. A new study, published by James McKim in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, set out to investigate the issue by replicating past studies conducted at the University of Chicago. These Chicago studies had previously concluded that carrageenan triggers intestinal inflammation.


McKim was unable to replicate the results of the Chicago studies when performing laboratory tests under the same conditions. Instead, he found that carrageenan is not broken down in the gut, and therefore doesn’t enter the body. Because the ingredient isn’t able to interact with other organs, he concluded that it should be safe to consume. His findings were in agreement with the bulk of existing scientific literature, which has also found carrageenan to be harmless to the body.


This new evidence may have an effect on the US National Organic Standards Board’s decision this November to potentially reapprove the use of carrageenan in organic food. While many peer-reviewed studies have pointed to its safety, it still remains controversial to consumers due to its attention in the media.


At v-dog, we stand behind the concept of "food as medicine" for dogs. Since 2005, we've seen countless dogs experience life-changing turnarounds related to allergies, arthritis, diabetes and even seizures after switching to v-dog kibble. Check out their stories here. Our family company is run by a team of dedicated vegans and our (wheat/corn/soy free) formula is healthy, hearty, tasty and meets all AAFCO standards for adult dog nutrition. At meal time, you can rest assured your pup will thrive on the healthiest dog food on the market. Learn more about v-dog here.


For more pet industry news related to animal welfare, health, plant-based diets and more, check out our Dog Blog here!

More info on V-dog products.

Can dogs be vegan? Read more.


Images: marinalg.org; foodsciencematters.com


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Dogs are Not Wolves: Amylase, Starch Digestion and Vegan Diets

Dogs are Not Wolves: Amylase, Starch Digestion and Vegan Diets

As a company that has seen thousands of dogs thrive on our plant-based (starchy) kibble for over 11 years, at v-dog we feel very confident in the power of plants for our furry companions. Story after story, time after time, we hear of dogs bouncing with energy, losing weight and ridding their bodies of arthritis, allergies and tummy troubles. In addition to the ethical and environmental benefits of feeding your dog a plant-based diet, there is clear scientific evidence that over the thousands of years they've spent around humans, their bodies have evolved to digest and thrive on starchy foods.

So, regarding diet, what makes dogs so different than wolves? 


The digestion of starch works a bit differently in dogs than in humans. An article titled "Starch Diets May Have Given Ancient Dogs the Paw Up," states, "Humans are well-equipped for starchy diets: Human saliva contains an enzyme called amylase, which starts breaking down starches as soon as food hits the mouth. Dog drool doesn't have this advantage, but dogs do excrete amylase from their pancreases, allowing for the digestion of starches in the gut."

potatoes 1

The diference between dogs and wolves can be broken down to evolution on a genetic level. (Ok, we're going to get a bit science-y on you for a minute...)

According to Animal Genetics Journal, "High amylase activity in dogs is associated with a drastic increase in copy numbers of the gene coding for pancreatic amylase, AMY2B, that likely allowed dogs to thrive on a relatively starch-rich diet during early dog domestication...Pancreatic amylase (AMY2B) serves as the first step in the digestion of starch to glucose in the small intestine by catalyzing the breakdown of starch to oligosaccharides maltose and maltriose specifically demonstrated that selection had acted on a series of duplication events to favor the accumulation of additional copies of AMY2B, resulting in an average sevenfold copy number increase in dogs relative to in wolves..."

The Nat. Center for Biotechnology Information also references amylase related to dog's starch-heavy domestication: "High amylase activity in dogs is associated with a drastic increase in copy numbers of the gene coding for pancreatic amylase, AMY2B, that likely allowed dogs to thrive on a relatively starch-rich diet during early dog domestication." 


Domestic dogs not only developed a better ability to digest starch, but a greatly-improved ability to utilize and benefit from these starches than their wolf counterparts:

"The researchers found that dogs have more copies of a gene called AMY2B, crucial for amylase production, than wolves. And in dogs, this gene is 28 times more active in the pancreas than in wolves...Dogs also showed changes in specific genes that allow for the breakdown of maltose into glucose, another key starch digestion step, and in genes allowing for the body to make use of this glucose." (Animal Genetics)

Although wolves can digest starch in small amounts, they tend to stick to flesh unless food is scarce. An Italian study on wolf diet in various habitats all showed vegetable matter to make up approximately 5% of the wolf packs' diets. (Mammalian Biology)


Interestingly enough, the evolution of our furry friend isn't too far off from our own body's adaptations over the years. According to TheScientist.com, “...Some of the changes observed in dog digestion have parallels in humans. As we moved from hunting meat and gathering berries to farming grains and vegetables, we, too, duplicated our amylase gene, which some have seen as an adaptation to a starch-rich diet."


As if we didn't already know dogs were magical, their extraordinary evolution alongside humans proves their bodies have adapted to thrive off of diets rich in starchy foods. To learn more about v-dog's healthy, hypoallergenic, plant-based products for your pup, check out our FAQ page! 

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A note from a homeopathic veterinarian:


"This [vegetarian diets for companion animals] is very important work. In our time we cannot sustain the use of animals as a major or primary food source. It is simply not possible considering how very inefficient it is to feed edible grains and other vegetable sources to animals so that they, in turn, will be eaten. Even more important are the very real health effects from feeding at the top of the food chain. We don't know the levels of pollutant accumulation in the tissues of animals, but in people it has been found that well over 100 chemicals are now resident in our tissues especially in those that regularly eat meat. Avoiding animal flesh in our diets very much reduces this toxic accumulation. Lastly, from an ethical standpoint, our food animal industry results in very great suffering for large numbers of animals and it is logically inconsistent to treasure one animal (the one emotionally close to us) at the cost of other animals being treated inhumanely. To find alternative diets for dogs and cats that do not include meat is very important work and needs to be done." – Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD (via vegepets.info)




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Animal Genetics: link
Volume 45, Issue 5, Article first published online: 28 JUN 2014
The National Center for Biotechnology Information: link
LiveScience.com: link
The Scientist: link
Nature.Com: link
Capitani et al. 2004 Mammalian Biology vol 69 pages 1-10
photos: Featured image: Outdoors Inernational; Howling wolf: http://www.pets4homes.co.uk/; Carrots: Statesman.com; Confused dog: icingonthepavement; potatoes:Potatoes.com

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Can Puppies Be Vegan?

Can Puppies Be Vegan?

At v-dog, we are asked quite often,"Can puppies eat v-dog?" "Is it healthy for them?" We are in the process of adding additional science-based information to our website, but in the mean time, we thought we'd have Erin share her lovely story about her work and experience with young vegan rescue puppies. 

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My name is Erin and I live in southwestern Colorado. In January of 2014, I started a vegan dog rescue, Durango Animal Connection. Since then I have been lucky enough to foster 34 dogs and puppies and adopted them out into loving homes. My foster dogs are rescued from the Native American reservations in the Four Corners region, mainly the Navajo reservation.

 puppy 2

My organization is rooted in my vegan values of having compassion for all life. It is very important to me to feed my dogs and puppies a healthy, vegan diet. When I first got started I did a lot of research on the different vegan dog foods that are available, and met with my veterinarian to discuss proper nutrition for puppies that range in age from 5 weeks to 6 months old. I found V-dog to be the cleanest, healthiest and most nutritious dry vegan kibble out there. My veterinarian helped me find a few vegan ingredients I could add if I needed to boost the fat content for very little puppies. I have studied the nutrition content of meat-based puppy kibble and found V-dog to have an equal or greater amount of protein and fat. My foster puppies have never shown any deficiencies or symptoms of malnutrition, and have always grown big and healthy under my care.

 puppy 1

Since starting my rescue, I have fostered puppies as young as 5 weeks old and have been very successful feeding them a vegan diet. I will often soak the kibble in warm water, sometimes pureeing it a bit in the food processor if necessary, and sometimes adding coconut or flax oil for an added healthy fat. The puppies absolutely love it! I currently have a litter of 7 puppies that I started feeding V-dog to when they were 6 weeks old. Someone donated a bag of a different vegan food to me so I was mixing it with the V-dog. The puppies actually went through their bowls and picked out all the V-dog kibbles and left the others!

 puppy 3

I have also had the privilege of fostering a nursing mother dog and her litter of 7 3- week-old puppies. Mama was fed V-dog (A LOT of it!) and once the pups were weaned they ate it as well. Mama and puppies were healthy, vibrant dogs once they went to their forever homes. I have adopters comment quite often that my dogs seem really healthy and happy. My foster puppies have always had healthy coats and full, round bellies. I have never felt that I was inadequately feeding them or depriving them of anything they needed. I have found V-dog to be a well-rounded, healthy dog food that can be fed to all life stages of dogs. My cute little fur-balls can prove it!

Thanks to a wonderful dog food company and all the staff at V-dog for helping me feed my foster dogs and puppies a diet that is based on health, compassion and respect for our world and our fellow animals.


Erin Nissen

Founder of Durango Animal Connection

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Sniff out more info: Check out these links!

Can my dog be vegan? 

- FAQ page for v-dog

V-dog product page


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Kibble running low? Here are some vegan meal replacements you can make at home

Kibble running low? Here are some vegan meal replacements you can make at home

1. Dave's Special: Combine cooked brown rice and quinoa with steamed brocoli and carrots, then mix together with two tablespoons of peanut butter for a delicious, healthy canine meal. 

2. VegAnnie Sweet Potato Quinoa dish: This recipe packs lots of fiber, protein and potassium using peas, quinoa, bananas and carrots. (Thanks to Annie for the beautiful photo used above!) 

3. Share a Meal: Here are some great suggestions from One Green Planet on sharing a vegan meal with your dog. 

For more info on v-dog, please visit our product pages or our pawsome testimonial pages.

Need more info on vegan diets for dogs? Check out: Can my dog be vegan? 

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