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Can You Have a Vegan or Vegetarian Dog?


Dogs are often a reflection of ourselves and typically mirror our own social and political views.  After all, it should be no surprise that dog names like Beyonce, Dobby, Pikachu, and Snow (as in Jon) became more popular in 2016.  In addition to naming our dogs after pop culture and expecting them to partake in our favorite hobbies such as running, hiking, and cycling, we also like for them to follow similar dining habits.  With vegan and vegetarian diets becoming increasingly popular, you might wonder:  can you have a vegan or vegetarian dog?  Listed here are a few surprising facts about meat-free canines.

One of the oldest living dogs was vegan.
Bramble, a blue merle Collie, once held the Guinness Book World Record for oldest dog, reaching the age of 27 years old.  He resided in the United Kingdom and followed the dietary restrictions of his human.  Bramble ate a steady diet of rice, lentils, and organic vegetables.  In addition to consuming one meal per day, Bramble also received plenty of exercise.

Pinto beans are great for dogs with food allergies.
Food allergies and sensitivities are becoming increasingly common in dogs, with more pets than ever before requiring gluten-free, corn-free, or soy-free diets.  When a dog is first experiencing a potential food allergy, veterinarians often suggest an elimination diet, starting with a base of pinto beans.  Over time one ingredient is added per week until the cause of the food allergies is determined.  Pinto beans are the recommended base because they contain all the macronutrients that a dog needs, while also carrying a low risk of allergic reaction.

The National Research Council ruled vegan/vegetarian meals are safe.
The National Research Council released its findings that while cats cannot survive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, dogs can.  Of course, adequate protein sources are necessary, as well as proper attention to vitamin, mineral, and amino acid supplementation.

Vegan and vegetarian dogs may need supplements.
The reason that cats cannot survive on a vegetarian diet is because they are unable to naturally produce certain essential amino acids in their bodies.  However, dogs are able to do so when given the appropriate building blocks, in the form of supplements.  If switching to a vegan or vegetarian dog diet, make sure to talk to your veterinarian.  He or she might recommend supplements such as l-taurine, l-carnitine, and B-12 vitamins.

A balanced vegan/vegetarian diet may be less expensive.
Typically, high-quality dog foods are more expensive because of high amounts of non-processed animal proteins.  However, plant-based protein sources such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans are considerably cheaper to grow and prepare, particularly when meals are made at home.

Dogs adapted to thrive on multiple food sources.
A common argument is that dogs have canine teeth and therefore must eat meat in order to thrive.  Nevertheless, dogs have adapted over thousands of years to survive as foragers, able to eat their meals from garbage cans or the intestines of other animals.  So long as your dog is receiving high-quality, well-balanced meals and attends annual veterinary exams, he or she can thrive as a vegan or vegetarian dog.


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Anna Weber

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