I have been researching a vegan dog food and wonder if you think it is healthy. I am vegan and it bothers me each time I put money toward the purchase of dog food. I posted a comment about turning my dog into a vegan dog on the Youtube site where Earthlings was shown, and surprisingly got the response that it would abuse to my dog to make her be a vegan dog. I do not want to cause harm to my dog's health but am really interested in knowing more about having a vegan diet for my dog.Answer:
I can completely understand where you are coming from as I have two dogs and am in the process of learning more about vegan dog food myself.
One of my dogs has spent his entire eight years of life an itchy mess. He gets yeast infections in his ears when he eats grains, and we had tried almost every single high quality dog food on the market. I'm not talking about anything from a commercial pet store or super market, which is often filled with corn meal and veiled sugars and other crap that is terrible for any animal. What we've tried is really high quality food from a small, family-owned holistic pet food shop where they know and love animals inside and out. They recommend brands like Canidae, Natural Balance, Pinnacle, Timberwolf Organics, Azmira, and other whole food based dog foods. We trolled through all of the grain-free foods for him and finally settled on a fish and sweet potato mix that worked for a few years. He has recently become allergic to fish as well, and that made me reconsider everything again.
Now, I did not love buying fish, but I felt like I had to get the kind of food that a dog was made to eat, and they have a totally different body structure than humans-- canine teeth, shorter digestive tracts, the whole nine yards. But, they are domesticated animals and not quite the same as their wolf ancestors. I am just like you in that I hated supporting the factory farming industry by buying his dog food. Hated it.
Somewhere along the line, we tried two commercial vegan dog foods, both of which resulted in the runs and bad yeast in the ears, as well as biting of the paws (which indicates allergy.) I would obviously 100% prefer to feed him vegan food, but with his allergy to grains, I didn't think that was possible. I was uneducated and felt like I had no choice.
From what I have read recently, I know vegan dogs can do very well on vegan diets. You might have heard that the longest-living dog was a vegan dog who lived more than 27 years. Many of the degenerative diseases that humans get from heavy meat consumption can affect dogs as well.
In fact, the same dog of mine had skin cancer last year. It was stage 2, which means it can either go to stage 3 and be fatal or can sometimes go away. After surgery and a year of medicine cocktails designed to suppress new growth (and one more surgery in between for something we thought was a recurrence), he is cancer free. He still takes medicine for hypothyroidism daily, as well as some maintenance medicine for the cancer that we can hopefully wean him off of with no recurrence. My guess is that dogs with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop these diseases than ones that are healthier. The problem is, probably a good number of the domesticated dogs nowadays have problems with their immune systems.
Any loving dog owners knows that someone who takes so much time researching and considering foods for their dog couldn't possibly want to neglect or abuse them in any way, but must be acting out of love. Of course you are doing nothing wrong! But, I feel your anxiety about this.
If vegan diets are hardly accepted for humans, imagine what vets think about them for pets. But, just like with our own diets, we have to remember to do what we believe is best. My dog was sick, and so I bit my lip and ignored my beliefs in favor of giving him what I felt was best for him, but it turns out that meat is not best for him, so had I honored my ethics all along, he might have been better off.You Won't Believe What Food My Dog Loves Best
We are now on a diet that makes my pup the happiest I've ever seen him. His ears have cleared up, he's not scratching or biting his feet, his fur is shiny, he's got more energy, and his eyes sparkle. Can you guess what I've been feeding him? Quinoa and lentils. This combination alone will not sustain him long term, but he needed some plain, neutral, "sick dog" food to get back to a baseline from which we can see what foods work for him.
I know making food for your dog sounds time-consuming and perhaps a little ridiculous, but if you have time to boil quinoa and lentils, puree them in a food processor, and divvy them into cup servings in the fridge, you could make some food a little while.
There are two amino acids that dogs need to thrive that are not available in plants, l-carnitine and taurine
. We add a mix called VegeDog Mix by Hoana
that was designed to supplement vegan dog food. When you buy it from Vegan Essentials, a recipe booklet comes too, which is incredibly helpful.
There are a few other vegan dog foods on the market that you can try to see how your dog does with them. Once my dog is stabilized and the toxins from his old food have completely left his body, he might be able to handle those commercial vegan dog foods. We'll begin adding potential allergens slowly, and add nothing else, to see how he adjusts to them and see if they cause a reaction.
Our dogs have always loved bananas, apples, carrots, and kale, and they know those foods by name. When they hear the vegetable peeler or the snap of a banana peel, they run to the kitchen. As long as you stay away from known toxins like raisins, grapes, onions, and chocolate, most vegetables are great supplements to your dog's diet.
Anyone else have stories to share about their vegan dogs?