vegetarian dog stealing vegetables from the kitchen counter chopping board.

A Vegetarian Diet for Dogs – Is it everything your dog needs?

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When prepared correctly, vegetables and fruits are an excellent source of nutrition for dogs. They provide fibre that helps keep the digestive tract healthy, are another source of vitamins and nutrients, and some are high in antioxidants. Raw green leafy vegetables supply the dog with almost all its vitamin needs, with abundant quantities of vitamins C, A, E and K.

With canine allergies becoming increasingly common, It’s understandable that many dog owners are looking at alternative diet options to alleviate the itching.

Beef, pork, and chicken allergies are some of the more common diet-related allergens, which has led to a high interest in vegetarian and vegan canine diets.

Unfortunately, many commercially prepared vegetarian dog diets contain very few vegetables, let alone the important leafy green vegetables, and are full of synthetic supplements that fill the nutritional gaps in their formulations. A red flag for a diet marketed as healthy and complete.

On top of this, If you already feed your dog meat-based dry kibble, they are likely already consuming a primarily vegetarian diet because of the high levels of grains, cereals and legumes often present in dry foods.

In addition to allergies, ethical and environmental considerations are among the reasons why dog owners are looking for plant-based diets for their dogs. This is a commendable reason for some, although it fails to put the dog’s interests first.

No matter the reasoning behind the interest in vegetarian (or vegan) diets, It is important to ask ourselves: Should dogs be fed an entirely vegetarian diet?

Surviving is not the same as thriving.

With Vegetarianism and Veganism on the rise in the human world, many are choosing to feed their pets, particularly dogs, plant-based food. Whatever the reason for your diet choices, be they health implications, environmental reasons, ethical considerations, or taste preferences, it is crucial to respect an animal’s natural diet. Altering their diet based on your personal preferences is not only unethical but also disregards the animal’s biological and physiological processes and natural propensities.

While numerous online resources advocate for vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs, the studies chosen to prove their suitability are often flawed and lack substantial scientific evidence. To prove one diet is better than another, the studies have failed to include many important aspects that would be necessary for forming a conclusion on a diet, such as the exact diets being fed to the test subjects before and during the tests and considering studies suggest that the diet of the mother and father plays a large role in the health of their offspring, information on their ancestors would also be necessary. 

Some studies miss many obvious parameters. I even read one that concluded, “Dogs are classified as omnivores based on traits that are different from carnivorous cats.” Why on earth are we making assumptions about dogs based on cats?

A lot of these sources, studies and articles also fail to explain how dogs actually consume and chemically digest their food, how nutrients interact within their bodies and their physical capabilities for survival. These are all crucial factors that scientists typically consider when determining an animal’s natural diet. Yet, there are still many supporters of highly unsuitable, inappropriate canine diets. The fact that an animal CAN survive on any particular diet is not the same as that animal THRIVING on any particular diet.

Side Story.
An example of an animal surviving but not thriving is that of the Siamese Fighting Fish (Bettas). You know the brightly coloured fish with beautiful flowing fins that are often sold in pet stores and aquariums in pretty little bowls and odd shaped vessels? 

These fish are subjected to tiny amounts of water, often without temperature regulation. Their containers are often situated next to a bunch of other male Bettas, causing the fish to be in a constant state of territorial aggression – stress.

This method of housing (or selling, I should say) is based on the premise that they CAN survive living like this.

Many good Betta owners will tell you how much they thrive in a larger aquarium with heating and live vegetation. They move more, and they begin to make “bubble nests”. Willingness to reproduce and fertility are often signs of good health in animals.In the wild, Bettas live in shallow bodies of water, such as rice-growing fields covered in vegetation, eating fly larvae. The water is typically warm at 25-27℃. Knowing this information, this is what should have been replicated in captivity. Instead, they are sold and kept in tiny drops of water, no heating, no vegetation.


*Want more info? You can read my in-depth part 2 of this article here. Otherwise, continue on to get some practical advice.

Your dog is naturally designed to eat a diet of fresh meat, bones, predigested vegetables and ripened fruit with foraged insects, sprouts and grasses.

Replicating this diet at home is a lot simpler than it may seem, and there is professional help available.

Practical Steps for Dog Owners:

  1. Consult a Canine Nutritionist: Work with a professional to determine the optimal nutrient ratios for your dog’s specific needs.
  2. Source Ethical Ingredients: Find reliable suppliers of high-quality, ethically raised meat. Opt for organic produce to ensure your dog receives the best nutrients.
  3. Consider Pre-Made Options: Look for reputable brands that offer pre-made or easy-to-portion and serve raw diets. One such example is Rogue Raw, an Australian pet food supplier known for its ethically raised meat without fillers or preservatives.

I currently have no affiliation with this company but I love this company and I feel it’s important to mention, that when feeding my dog, I choose Rogue Raw.

Why you need professional help.

When you feed whole ingredients, there is generally not much need for nutrient calculations, except where you may not be aware of how much variety the dog requires and if they need a therapeutic diet – ie.: your dog has a problem of some sort. 

A lot of owners make the mistake of picking one or two formulas and then only feeding that. This is a fast way to create a nutrient deficiency. Every ingredient has a nutrient profile, and when only feeding  1-2 formulas, they may be missing some nutrients. Variety is the way to achieve balance in a diet and avoid deficiencies and therefore illness.

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