Is veganism right for dogs?

Everyone should strive to eat sustainably, and your dog is no exception. Pure protein, which means it’s typically the first ingredient listed on your dog’s food, is best for dogs, who are classified as omnivores but still need a substantial amount of protein. Veganism is often discussed, but is it a safe alternative to a regular diet?

Should dogs be vegan? The short answer is no in most cases — but sometimes, you may run into an unavoidable issue, like allergies. Here’s what you need to know about changing up a dog’s diet. As always, consult your veterinarian before making any decisions, especially ones as life-altering as veganism for dogs.

Is Veganism for Dogs Healthy?

About 10% of the meat market actually consists of plant-based alternatives, reflecting people’s desires for a vegan or plant-based diet. As veganism becomes more mainstream, you can see different industries adopting more vegan-friendly options. For example, pharmaceuticals have leaned into vegan-friendly production, which requires the highest possible purity of the water to ensure they meet standards of health and safety. There might be options for veganism for dogs, but it might not be the healthiest option for them.

Dogs require about 4.5g of protein for every 100 calories they eat, which is less than cats, but it’s still a substantial amount. Most dog food meets these protein requirements, making them worthwhile investments in feeding your pup. Swapping to a wholly vegan diet means that your dog might not get all the protein they need in a single meal, so dogs often shouldn’t be vegan unless absolutely necessary, like if they have allergies to animal-based proteins.

Even then, commercial dog foods can lean into using insect-based protein to help a dog’s dietary needs without leaning into meat, thereby working to the benefit of the environment. Purina Beyond follows the human trend of finding alternative protein sources to produce more natural food. More dog foods are leaning into this option to help fight climate change.

To ensure your dog is eating fully vegan and has no kibble, you would have to supplement their food with enough nutrients to give them enough protein and encourage better digestion. Even then, it might be difficult for you to measure the right amount of taurine, vitamin B-12 and other nutrients your dog is getting. Always consult with your veterinarian before making major changes to your dog’s diet. They will know your dog’s dietary needs best and might lead you toward a healthy compromise — like adding some safe vegetables and fruits to your dog’s diet while leaning into ethically sourced and raised forms of protein.

5 Safe and Nutritious Vegetables and Fruits for Dogs

While it can be difficult to raise a vegan dog and many professionals advise against it, you can still supplement their food with some delicious, nutritious produce if you want them to share part of your lifestyle. This way, your dog gets more crucial nutrients, and you don’t have to deprive them of their omnivorous habits.

1. Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is great to add to your dog’s meal. Try not to add too much, but you can give them some with every meal to help regulate their weight and maintain a healthy digestive system. It also is a great source of iron. Just make sure the pumpkin is plain and canned or cooked. Raw pumpkin and dishes like pumpkin pie aren’t great for your dog.

2. Bananas

Bananas can make a creamy substitute for something dairy-based you would want to feed your dog. However, they’re very high in sugar, so you shouldn’t put a banana in your dog’s food every day. They work well as a once-in-a-while treat that you can offer your pup for being the good dog they are.

3. Chickpeas

You may need to introduce this food to your dog slowly, as it could cause gastrointestinal upset. Still, when you opt for chickpeas — not processed, as dogs can’t handle the spice — you may notice a lower risk for things like diabetes because chickpeas have little effect on blood sugar levels. They’re also high in protein and might guard against things like high blood pressure or inflammation.

4. Green Beans

Packed full of several vitamins, green beans are a great snack that’s both low in calories and has a healthy dose of protein. Make sure to cook them without salt for your dog’s healthiest meal. You can add them alongside kibble or other staple parts of your dog’s diet. That way, they can get a well-rounded meal with tasty snacks.

5. Blueberries

These berries are great to offer your pup, as they have enough fiber to regulate your dog’s bowels while also providing plenty of antioxidants. Just one cup of blueberries can give you ten times the USDA’s recommendation of antioxidants, which makes them powerhouses in fighting cancer. Try to avoid feeding your dog too many at once. An excess of blueberries can lead to stomach upset.

Should Dogs Be Vegan?

Vegan dogs often don’t get the nutrition they need. Your pup’s health matters to you, so the easiest thing for you to do would be to supplement their meals with fruits, vegetables and grains that adhere to your vegan lifestyle while still giving them animal-based nutrition that works for them.

If your dog has allergies to animal fats and proteins, you can discuss their best possible diet with your veterinarian. It might take some work, but veganism for dogs is a possibility with close supervision by a professional. However, since it’s tricky, if you can avoid having a vegan diet for your dog, you should. That way, you can lean into feeding them a more balanced diet that will keep them happy and healthy.