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Dogs are man's best friends, and we do everything together. But does that include living on a plant-based diet?
It may come as a surprise to most, but yes. Dogs can survive and thrive on a meat-free diet just the same as humans can, and picking a dog food for your faithful companion that coincides with your ethics can be just as healthy for them as it is for you.
But which vegan dog food is best? We've compared the best on the market in terms of budget and nutrition.
OUR #1 RATED
Halo Holistic Garden
OUR #2 RATED
Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food
OUR #3 RATED
V-dog Vegan Kibble Dry Dog Food
OUR #4 RATED
Evolution Food for Dogs
OUR #5 RATED
Nature's Recipe Healthy Skin Dry Dog Food
1 - Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan Dry Dog Food -(Editor's Choice)
Every Garden Of Vegan recipe meets the nutritional needs of a dog's daily requirements as established by AAFCO. The protein is sourced from chickpeas and is said to be very digestible for dogs.
It is made right here in the USA and shuns all animal products as well as artificial flavors and preservatives.
It's very competitively priced, and based on my own pup's excited feeding as well as the reviews of many other dog owners online tastes great, although I haven't tried it myself to vouch for that…
2 - Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Dog Food
This vegan dog food provides a long list of ingredients that tick a lot of different nutritional needs. A great inclusion to see here and one to look out for in other vegan dog foods is the omega oils it sources from the flax seeds in its recipe.
When considering vegan dog food, you need to know every base is covered, and Natural Balance claims to do just that with their considered formula.
They also offer a small trial sized bag so you can introduce it to your dog slowly mixed in with their current food and gauge their reaction.
3 - V-dog Vegan Kibble Dry Dog Food
V-dog is to vegan dog food what the Impossible Burger is to vegan fast food. It is an established and trusted brand with a proven track record of delivering an enjoyable and nutritionally complete product.
They are well aware of this fact though, and so it is also the most expensive on the list, but in terms of value, it's probably worth it.
The kibble meets the AAFCO recommendations for dog nutrition. It is completely devoid of all animal products, including fish oils, which sometimes sneak there way into other vegetarian dog food. Be ever vigilant with those ingredients.
4 - Evolution Food for Dogs
Just as with humans, different dogs have different tastes, and you may have to try a few different brands to find the one that's right. Evolution, according to a lot of reviews, is the dog's choice when it comes to the taste test.
It also is reportedly a little easier on the tummy with less "gassy" issues, although looking at the ingredient list we can't really see why maybe it's all in the blend?
The packaging and product itself are no-frills and simple, seemingly relying on word of mouth and recommendations to do the marketing for it.
5 - Nature's Recipe Healthy Skin Dry Dog Food
While the product only claims to be vegetarian, we can find no ingredient that would make it not vegan on the listed recipe.
There is, however, a venison variant of this dog food, and so be very careful when making your order you are getting the right one.
As indicated above, the company is not strictly vegan or vegetarian and offers other products that do contain animal ingredients. The recipe seems to provide everything your dog needs to grow up big and strong with a focus on omega oils for healthy skin and coat.
What To Look Out For When Buying Vegan Dog Food?
The first thing to consider before switching your mutt to an animal-free diet is that of nutrition. Typically most dog foods rely heavily on poor-grade meat to provide the protein, vitamins, and minerals that your dog needs to be healthy. This means you have to pay careful attention to the ingredients to ensure that they are not missing out.
Just as you might consult a dietician or a personal trainer before making the switch to a vegan diet yourself, you should do the same for your dog and talk to your vet.
This ensures that you're aware of all the potential problems that could arise, different breeds have very different needs, and it's important that you are aware of them.
The nutritional needs for puppies vary vastly from that of an adult dog, and so you need to pay extra attention during their growth. We'll go into more detail on this a little later on.
Benefits Of A Vegan Diet For Dogs
Although several studies prove that a vegetarian or vegan diet can provide dogs with all the nutrition they need, and even some that go on to state that even the most active dogs can lead a healthy and productive life without the need for meat.
There is very little research that outlines a clear benefit of the diet in terms of actual health and happiness.
The benefits of the diet are mostly the same as that for humans. The diet, being typically richer in whole-foods and less processed, seems to have a positive effect on overall health and lifespan.
There are also the ethical and environmental impacts that make up the reasoning for most owners considering the switch.
Very often dogs are presented to the veterinarian with persistent, chronic, and difficult-to-treat conditions. It is now estimated that of all dogs over the age of two, that 50% of them will develop cancer in their lives.
Dr. Richard Pitcain
Due to the bioaccumulation of toxins and chemicals found in the animal-derived diet that we most often feed our dogs may be putting them at higher risks of cancer. Dr. Pitcairn noticed an improvement in many of his patients after making the switch to a nutritionally complete plant-based diet.
Is A Vegan Diet Healthy For Dogs?
Yes, a vegan diet can be just as healthy for dogs as the meat-based alternative. A vegan diet for our four-legged friends is just as plagued by misinformation and potential bad examples as it is for humans. As long as you are paying very close attention to the nutritional value of the diet, you are feeding your dog and checking that their food is not only enjoyable but providing them with everything they need, it has no more potential for harm than any other diet would.
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.
Dr. Lorelei Wakefield
However, in making the switch, it is very easy to misjudge or simply forget vital vitamins or minerals that are essential to your dog's health and wellbeing. An excellent way to keep track of the switch is to have regular urine tests done. Certain breeds are especially prone to their urine becoming alkali on a plant-based diet, and this can lead to urinary stones.
Do Vegan Dogs Live Longer?
The short answer is yes; vegan dogs seem to live longer than their counterparts on meat-based diets. This is due to a few different factors and will differ case to case, but anecdotal evidence at least points to a positive correlation.
Bramble, a vegan collie from the UK, lived to the ripe old age of 25 and is recognized in the Guinness Book Of World Records as one of the longest-living dogs to date.
Her guardian and companion Anne Heritage attributes her longevity to her diet and has raised seven other vegan dogs, five of which have lived past 19 years old.
A vegan diet can be especially beneficial to dogs in their senior years due to its anti-inflammatory nature and ability to help with conditions such as arthritis.
It is also lacking in the chemicals present in bone and meat, thanks to bioaccumulation and lowers the risk for the appearance of cancer.
What Does A Vegan Diet Look Like For A Dog?
A vegan diet for a dog looks much the same as a meat-based one -- just swap out the meat for a plant-based protein. If you are buying premade dog food that is serving up all the proper nutrients, it is exactly the same. You simply follow the instructions and feed them as advised based on their weight and specific needs.
If you are looking to make your own vegan dog food or if you would like to supplement it with some other nutrients, vitamins, or minerals, then the base of the meal will always be protein. This can take the form of oats, beans, lentils, or any other protein-rich food source. You will need to make sure they are cooked thoroughly and soft so they are healthy and appetizing.
The rest of the meal should provide specific nutrients, but raw vegetables cut very small such as broccoli or carrots as well as dark leafy greens are a good choice. You should also consider supplementing by sprinkling the meal with nutritional yeast and sea kelp flakes, which both provide specific vitamins that can keep your dog healthy.
Can Owning A Dog Ever Really Be Vegan?
There has been a spirited debate in the vegetarian and vegan community for many years as to whether owning animal companions is compatible with the vegan lifestyle. On one side, some say that in owning a pet of any description, you are funding and legitimizing the pet industry that does not care for the wellbeing of the animals it produces at all. On the other, some believe it is a vegan's responsibility to rescue and nurture those that have been mistreated, abandoned, or left behind.
Realistically it is not vegan to support breeders or pet stores that buy and sell animals. Unless you know them personally and know for a fact they are incredibly ethical, there are already far too many domesticated animals and far too few considerations for the wellbeing of those animals.
If you do want to share your life with an animal, then adopt a rescue, which may still seem problematic to some. Still, we don't live in a perfect world, and in the opinion of many, you would be doing a very good deed that totally lines up with the vegan lifestyle.
How much should I feed my vegan dog?
As with the more commercial meat-based dog diet, the amount you should feed your dog varies on their specific needs, breed, and weight. You should follow the instructions given on the dog food you buy for your dog and check in with a veterinarian if you still have concerns.
Is a grain-free diet good for dogs?
A grain-free or gluten-free diet is neither good nor bad for dogs. Unless, of course, they have a specific allergy or sensitivity to grain or gluten, in which case it's massively beneficial for them. As long as you are providing your dog with a nutritionally rich and monitored diet, they will be happy and healthy.
How can you tell if your dog has food allergies?
Food allergies in the strictest sense are not very common and instantly identified by quite severe reactions as they are in humans. Food sensitivities can be a little more gradual and most often identified by gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea, vomiting, or skin complaints like hives, itching, and severe and continual infections. If you are at all concerned, you should check in with a licensed veterinarian.
A vegan diet for your dog, just as it is with humans, and can even possibly help them to lead a longer life. So long as it is carefully monitored and provides them with all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need. Choosing the right dog food is a big choice, and many different factors go into that decision.
For us, pound for pound, Halo Holistic Garden is ticking every box we can think of. It's a great choice for those who want to switch their dogs to vegan dog food and has been very specifically formulated to provide them with a healthy and happy life.
Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan Dry Dog Food
Best Vegan Dog Food
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