As a dog owner, you naturally care about your pet’s health. After all, they’re part of the family! But if you’re vegan and thinking about switching your dog to a plant-based diet as well, how can you ensure that they’re getting everything they need? In this article, we’ll look into the essential nutrients for dogs and how much of each nutrient should be in their diet. We’ll also talk about what nutrients might be lacking in a vegan diet and how to keep your dog healthy without feeding them animal products.
Is a vegan diet healthy for dogs?
A vegan diet can be very healthy for dogs. According to the most extensive study to date, a plant-based diet is actually the safest and most beneficial choice for your dog, as long as it provides him or her with all the essential nutrients. Many still think dogs are carnivores and need meat to survive, but this isn’t true. Over generations, dogs’ physiology has adapted, and they are now considered omnivores, just like humans! Today’s dogs have all the enzymes needed for digesting plant matter and getting energy from it just fine, and they don’t need meat to thrive.
In the words of Dr. Sarah Dodd, author of an article titled Plant-based diets for dogs, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association: “Dogs have dietary requirements for energy and essential nutrients, but they do not have a recognized requirement for animal-derived ingredients per se. In accordance with the current understanding of pet nutrition, any diet that meets or exceeds the minimum nutrient requirements of a dog for a speciﬁc life stage would be considered nutritionally sufﬁcient for that animal, regardless of ingredients.””
In addition to this lifestyle being very healthy for dogs, many dog owners choose a vegan diet for their pets because they don’t want to support animal cruelty and want to reduce their carbon footprint. You can read more here about how choosing a vegan diet for your pet can support animal welfare and here about how plant-based dog food can help us save the planet.
What nutrients are essential for your dog, and how much of each nutrient do they need?
Dogs need a wide variety of nutrients to stay healthy and happy. Many of these are found in meat, which makes it easy for us to assume that our dogs’ diets should be based on animal products. But there’s no reason why you can’t provide your dog with all the nutrition they need by feeding them a vegan diet. These are the nutrients that are essential for your dog:
- Protein and amino acids: Your pup’s diet should contain at least 10% protein. Proteins are made up of amino acids, which help grow, repair, and maintain cells and ensure your dog can produce glucose for energy.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are an essential energy source for dogs, especially those with an active lifestyle. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fiber in your pet’s diet. They aid digestion and are also used by the body to make things like enzymes and hormones. Up to 50% of your dog’s diet can consist of carbs.
- Fats & fatty acids: Fats provide energy for dogs and help keep their skin and fur healthy. Fats also help with the absorption of nutrients as well as cell growth and repair. At least 5.5% of your dog’s diet should be fats.
- Vitamins & Minerals: These nutrients are essential for good health and keep your dog’s brain and body functioning properly. For example, calcium helps build strong bones, iron makes red blood cells, and vitamin A helps keep the eyes healthy. Dogs need a variety of vitamins and minerals, some of which may need to be supplemented.
- Water: Water helps keep dogs hydrated and healthy. Without water, their bodies can’t function properly.
What should you look out for when switching your dog to a vegan diet?
When you decide to switch your dog’s diet from meat-based to vegan, there are a few things you should keep an eye out for. First and foremost, watch for allergy symptoms such as itching or constant scratching of the skin and digestive issues such as constipation or vomiting. If you notice these symptoms, stop the diet-switching process and consult your vet before changing the routine again.
There are some nutrients that vegan dogs may lack, but these can be easily supplemented. One of the most important nutrients for dogs is vitamin B12. Vitamin B is essential for healthy brain function and nervous system regulation, and it’s found in meat products like fish and poultry. Vitamin B12 supplements can be given to dogs as an alternative to eating animal byproducts, and it’s often already added to commercial plant-based dog food.
Another nutrient to make sure to include in your dog’s diet is calcium, which helps strengthen bones and teeth. Calcium is found in dairy but can also come from leafy greens such as kale or bok choy and beans such as soybeans or black beans. You can also look for calcium-fortified foods.
If you are considering making homemade vegan food for your dog, extra care needs to be taken to ensure all the essential vitamins and nutrients are provided in the right amounts. This can be tricky, and you should consult your vet for advice and guidance. On the other hand, if you choose to purchase commercial plant-based dog food, you should go for one with healthy ingredients that include natural sources of protein, fats, and carbs in the correct amounts for your dog. Read the ingredient list and the nutritional information, and pick a brand that puts care into ensuring essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are provided.
PawCo is the new generation of dog food. Our plant-based recipes are carefully formulated by board-certified food scientists and animal nutritionists to exceed AAFCO standards. Our meals are 100% free of animal products and 100% safe for dogs because they were developed specifically to suit their nutritional needs. Our food is made with natural ingredients, contains all the essential amino acids, and is supplemented with all the vitamins and minerals your dog’s body and mind need. Check out our recipes and place your order here!
With proper care and planning, you can ensure your vegan dog has a happy and healthy life.
The bottom line? Dogs can thrive on a vegan diet as long as proper time and research are invested in ensuring the diet is complete and balanced and provides everything they need. A little research, planning, and a willingness to experiment will ensure your dog gets all the necessary nutrients from their diet and lives a happy, healthy, vegan life.