Vegetarian diet for dogs

ROWLEY, MA - OCTOBER 25: Hounds follow the scent during the fox hunt at Kitty Crossing Farm on October 25, 2015 in Rowley, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
ROWLEY, MA - OCTOBER 25: Hounds follow the scent during the fox hunt at Kitty Crossing Farm on October 25, 2015 in Rowley, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Dogs are known carnivores. What if we told you they weren’t, and that they are actually omnivores. Skeptical? Here are some facts explaining how a vegetarian diet can benefit your dog.

The dog’s body is a wonder, as omnivores they can transform amino acids into others. So they are able to metabolize a range of food, from meat to vegetables. If that’s the case, why a vegetarian diet? Why choose vegetables over meat when dog’s are able to process both?

Vets would recommend dog food that has a substantial amount of vegetables along with meat.

The problem is, most owners prefer a meat based diet, assuming it is what the dog wants. Which is for the most part, true. However, studies have shown an increase in vegetables in a dog’s diet helps with digestion, longevity, and overall appearance. So the contest isn’t going vegetarian, it’s integrating more vegetables in your dog’s diet. Or at the very least, their treats.

Before diving into vegetarian or mixed kibble, let’s look at the studies surrounding vegetarian diets for dogs. A study by Semp in 2014 analyzed the quantitative data from 174 dog owners whose dogs ate a vegan diet for six months. The results, 34% reported healthier coats and skin. While 16 owners responded with improvements to their dog’s odor. Some claimed their dog’s stool had shown positive changes in size and consistency. An experiment by Brown WY observed 12 competitive racing huskies, 6 of which ate a 16 week diet of maize gluten and soybean meal. The diet for the other 6 dogs (meat-based) matched the nutritional specifications of the vegan diet. When examined at the end of the 10 week season each dog was in prime physical condition, neither anemic or facing any health issues. So studies have shown an improvement, or stabilization, with dog’s health on a vegetarian diet.

When choosing whether to put your dog on a vegetarian diet consider your dog’s current health.

If your dog is suffering from digestion, diabetes, skin issues, and/or obesity then a vegetarian or vegan diet could be beneficial. Also, if you just want to supply your dog with proteins that aren’t meat try wheat, soy, and legumes based dog food. The most important things are that your meeting your dogs nutritional needs. So always consult your vet before switching your dog to an all vegetarian diet.

There are downsides to going vegetarian. If you are less versed with nutrition, your dog may not get the daily vitamins and proteins they need. Especially when changing to a vegan dog diet.  Also, most dogs are picky. So switching a dog to vegetable based food is not easy. The best thing is to start introducing the new food along with those that they like.

More from Dog of the Day

Brands for vegetarian dog food include PetGuard Organic Vegetarian Adult Dog Food, V-Dog’s Kibble, and Natural Balance’s Vegetarian Dog Formula.

This is if you’re interested in dry food or kibble. You also can cook meals for your dog at home. Vegetables that are good to use are sweet potato, beans, peanut butter, pumpkin, and carrots. For fruits they can eat bananas, mangoes, strawberries, and pears. Just be careful with the sugar content of fruit, specifically berries. If you season your dog’s food, stay away from too much salt, butter, and milk.

There are vegetables that are toxic to your dog, such as onions, avocado, mushrooms, and raw potatoes. Be careful when trying new vegetables with your dog. If they have a reaction to any new food item take them to the vet.

Making the switch to a vegetarian diet for your dog is completely up to you. It is dependent on what you believe your dog needs. So if your dog is in need of better nutrition, try an all plant-based diet. Heck, it’s worth a try.