"Sorry I don't eat meat, I'm Vegan" - Unapologetically your Dog.
Pet parents are becoming more interested in vegan food for their dogs as veganism itself becomes more popular. Vegan dog diets contain no animal products and instead use protein-rich plants and other vegan-friendly ingredients such as grains, lentils, rice, blueberries, carrots, peanuts, and pumpkin to substitute meat. While plant-based diets are better for the environment and farm animals, as a pet parent, you want to know if your vegan dog is healthy. It's critical to understand the potential benefits and pitfalls of a vegan diet for your best buddy before making the decision.
Is a vegan diet safe for your dog?
If you would have asked me this question a few years ago I would have told you that there wasn’t enough definitive research on how Vegan diets would impact dogs’ health. At first glance the thought of a full-grown wolf chowing down on a bowl of quinoa with a leafy green side salad seems ridiculous. We must remember though that our lap dog friends have been bred away from their moon worshiping brethren over hundreds, even thousands of years.
If you live in Western society your dog is probably suffering from a myriad of health problems caused by eating animal protein along with those processed food. Almost all dogs silently suffer from chronic inflammation and disease which will continue to get worse over time unless you change their diet. According to Dr. Joe Bartges, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and professor of Medicine and Nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens says, "Certain dogs are more reactive to animal proteins than they are to plant proteins. Kidney disease, urate bladder stones, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are examples.” This leads us to believe that switching them to a vegan dog food could help alleviate painful symptoms.
I do have good news for you, there has finally been a comprehensive study done on vegan diets in dogs which is a great alternative to a raw meat diet if you are prone to being kind farm animals. According to the largest study to date, vegan diets are healthier and safer for dogs than traditional meat-based diets, if they are nutritionally sufficient. According to Dr. Susan Jeffrey, a veterinarian at Truesdell Animal Care Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, some vegan diets may lack essential amino acids found in meat, such as taurine and L-carnitine. "A shortage of these nutrients can result in medical disorders such as heart disease; taurine deficiency can cause dilated cardiomyopathy." In my last article covering the benefits and drawbacks from another recently popular and trendy ‘grain-free diet’ we discovered the disastrous diseases caused by a taurine deficiency diet.
We covered the causes of dilated cardiomyopathy (DM) in my last blog post and how it is also linked to the newly popular grain-free diets in dogs. DM is caused by a taurine deficiency and a lack of nutrients present in grain-free dog kibble. The benefit of feeding your dog a vegan diet is that you can easily supplement it with added proteins and avoid this devastating disease.