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by Suzie Cyrenne May 30, 2015 8 min read
Isn’t it strange hearing of a vegan dog? You bet it is! Veganism for pets is a recent trend and though we do not have any strong negative opinions about it, the fact remains that a purely vegan diet may not be enough for some of our four-legged friends (such as a cat).But how about a dog? Will a ‘manufactured’ vegan diet be enough?
Since we are mostly talking from the context of raw food feeding, this would not be a run of the mill ‘vegan’ pet food article. We would touch up on topics which would explain why the nutrients which dogs can get from a raw vegan diet is extremely limited for their needs. More so, do you know that most vegan food which substitutes for meat are processed and/or cooked? That alone can extremely limit the type of foods which the dog can eat under a raw vegan diet. It is for that reason and for information’s sake that we would also talk about a plain vegan pet diet (including cooked/processed food items).
Are you getting confused? We sure hope not! But to be clear, let’s define some of the terms you will be reading on the next paragraphs shall we?
Are you vegan? A vegetarian? Or just someone who have strict dietary restrictions which you would want to share with your furbaby? Perhaps you’re someone new to the raw feeding movement or maybe you simply want to try out a vegan diet for your pet. Whatever your reason for wanting to read this article, we’ll go through a short definition of important terminologies for the sake of clarity.
Ready? Then read on!
Vegetarians do not eat animal flesh. It is as simple as that. Vegetarians generally abstain from eating animal meat, be it a cow, a pig, a sea animal, a chicken, a sheep, a goat, etc.
On the other hand, a vegan does not eat any animal product at all. This means that in addition to no animal meat, vegans do not eat eggs, dairy products, lard – EVERYTHING. As a whole, vegans also do not use animal products such as leather (no more rawhide chews for your furbaby!), antlers (bye bye antler chews!), and so on.
So we guess it is rather clear that a vegan dog diet is a lot stricter than a vegetarian dog diet (the other term for vegan is actually ‘strict vegetarian, go figure!). Even humans can have a very hard time getting their nutritional needs met on a vegetarian diet, more so with vegan diet if cooked or processed food is not involved. If it is that difficult for humans, think how much trickier it would be for a dog!
We understand that a lot of you fellow animal lovers love all sorts of animals, and that feeding your pooch animal flesh is a revolting concept for you. However, the fact remains that it is nearly impossible to implement a raw dog food diet (this is part of the raw dog food series after all) together with a vegan one.
Okay, okay, some of you may think, “forget raw dog food! Let’s talk about feeding our dogs a vegan diet!”
That may actually work – if you have what it takes to put in a lot of effort, and we mean EFFORT! However, it still comes with cons or disadvantages (granted that it may also have some benefits). So why is it that ‘manufactured vegan’ foods may not be enough for your dog? Let’s find out below!
This is simply the truth. Veganism or even vegetarianism for pets is a very new practice and there is not enough documentation supporting it or if it will be fine for dogs of all life stages.
Hey, do you know what has thousands of years of real life backup? Raw feeding!
Dogs and their ancestors has been eating pure and clean fresh meat (and the occasional herb and veggie) for hundreds of thousands of years. They all thrived didn’t they? Otherwise we won’t have the dogs we have today.
Your pet may likely eat a bowl of rice and beans to avoid starvation, but given a choice, a juicy piece of meat is more up your dog’s alley. Remember, meat is not bad as long as it is fresh, clean, and natural. No bacons, hams, and hotdogs please!
The majority of people who’ve tried going vegan with their dogs did so with adult dogs. Remember that puppies have different needs and those needs may not be supported by a plant-based diet. For instance, speaking of proteins alone, there are some amino acids which are not found in plant sources. More so, dogs needs a lot of B12, and it is not something plant-based foods can provide.
If you are prepared to go through all the lengths to feed your dog a vegan dog diet or a vegetarian dog diet, you have to be prepared to shell out some serious cash.
Because a near-complete vegan or vegetarian dog food is only done or manufactured by a very exclusive group of people who charges really expensive fees per feeding or per set of meals. Sure, you can try to DIY this, but are you prepared for the consequences, such as starving your furry best friend out of key nutrients he or she needs?
Think about evolution. Think about how the human anatomy is designed as compared to a dog. Humans are ‘designed’ to be omnivores and can tolerate going full vegan.
Now think about how a dog is built. Just by the looks of the dog’s external anatomy, do you truly think that dogs are meant to forgo meat and animal products?
What we are saying is, what is healthy for you is not the same as what is healthy for a dog. For instance, it is healthier for humans to stand upright than to sit (it’s better for the back), would the same be true for your pooch?
We can come up with more cons or disadvantages regarding dog vegetarianism or dog veganism. However, we think that everyone reading this already understands what we mean.
Think about what is natural for your dog, not what is natural or ethical for you. We understand that you love your furbaby and wants the best, but what is best have very different definitions depending on the animal’s specie.
Before you make the plunge to feeding your dog a mostly plant-based diet (vegetarian) or a purely plant-based one (vegan),you have to understand that going for this route means a lot of work on your part. You also have to consider that your dog has no say in your decision and that you have to be objective in your decision making.
Does your dog share your ideology?
Maybe all your dog wants is to have some bacon?
Kidding aside, some of you may want to shift to a vegan dog diet because you’ve heard of the dangers of manufactured dog food (see our blog on the 10 Real Truths About Manufactured Foods for Cats and Dogs) and would want to help keep your furry best friend in the peak of health. Is going for a vegan dog diet the only way? Or perhaps there is a better option? With the raw food diet, you will have more safe choices on what to feed your dog without having to sacrifice your dog’s health.
Do you know that dogs are not omnivores but rather are scavenging carnivores?
What’s the difference?
An omnivore’s (like a bear) diet consists of a mix of plant materials and animal protein. Scavenging carnivores on the other hand, needs more animal-based protein and nutrients.
Sure, a dog can survive on a diet mainly consisting of vegetables and plants with just a tiny-weeny bit of animal protein; however, that is merely ‘surviving’ and if you are not careful, it can hurt your dog’s health. Just a look at your dog’s teeth and it is pretty obvious that their digestive system is not designed to eat plants and grains. Think about it.
Please note that we did not write this to completely eliminate the possibility of switching successfully to a vegan dog diet or a vegetarian dog diet (except if your pawsome best friend have some extreme allergies to animal protein) but rather to introduce you to the possibility of a better option. Maybe in the future a purely vegan dog diet can be done succesfully, but at present time, there are more cons than pros for subjecting your best friend to a very restrictive form of feeding.
We would not go on into the details of how the dog’s digestive tract is not designed for eating plants and we won’t bore you with biochemistry and all that talk. We would rather focus on what the dog’s digestive tract is designed for.
Simply put, dogs are meat eaters. From the mouth, the digestive enzymes, to the length of the intestines, it is all made for eating meat. Not just any meat though, but the safest and most ‘natural’ kind, like what wolves eat.
What option does that give you? You got it, raw meat!
Ewww! Isn’t raw meat dangerous?
Before you stop reading, you have to understand that a dog’s stomach acidity level is wayyyy higher than a human’s.
If your dog can eat poop (oh c’mon!), drink pee (you know it happens), and chow on other ‘grubs’ found on your walks or time spent outdoors, you bet that the dog can be totally fine with fresh raw meat. You can even throw in some sliced apples or carrots from time to time too, dogs love that!
As for making sure you can help your pooch transition to raw dog food, probiotics and a total cleanse or detox can help with that. You can also chat with us below if you have any questions regarding what natural products may help your dog in the transition to raw feeding or if you’ll need something customized for your furry best friend.
Enjoyed our take on pet veganism and how raw dog food may be the next best option for health conscious pet parents? Then read the rest of the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Raw Dog Food!
We’ve talked about the history of dog food in an earlier post; and next up will be the raw dog foods must knows and raw dog food benefits. We’ll also share our top raw dog food recipes so stay tuned for that!
Want to know when we’ll post the next parts of this series? Then simply sign-up for our newsletter by filling in your details. Aside from free health tips, you’ll also get fun and informative pet-related posts, straight to your inbox!
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HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne co-founded Zumalka over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the Zumalka staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.
Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field and she earned her degree in Homeopathy at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France).
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