Are you a pet owner considering a vegan diet for dogs?
It can be a prickly topic that some people get heated over. To help you work out what’s right for you, we’ve put together some of the advantages and disadvantages to think about.
Pro: A vegan diet for dogs minimizes suffering
Most vegans are painfully aware of the cruelty involved in animal agriculture. It becomes a source of discomfort knowing that the food you are feeding your own pet has involved cruelty to other innocent living creatures.
No source of meat is without animal suffering of some degree. But most dog foods use meat from animals kept in the worst circumstances – on factory farms so companies can keep costs down as much as possible. You’ve probably seen the documentaries already… but if you’re not yet aware of what happens to produce the meat in traditional dog food… or you need the extra reminder to motivate you to make the change… watch Earthlings.
Pro: Your conscience feels better
See above… You’re no longer contributing to that horror, so you know you’re doing what you can to make the world a more compassionate place.
Pro: No more smelly tins of meat in your refrigerator
You may have changed all your own food to vegan products, but you still have those tins of meat in the fridge for your dog. Lets be honest, that canned dog food has always smelt and looked really bad, but now that you’ve become vegan, the yucky feeling it gives you is even worse.
Pro: You’re supporting innovation into vegan products
Choosing a vegan diet for your dogs reduces the demand for the products that contribute to factory farming.
When you choose to buy commercial vegan dog food you support companies that are investing into providing cruelty-free options. This helps those companies stay in business, and encourages other companies to introduce vegan dog food lines into their product selection. Use your spending choices to improve the market so there are more options of vegan dog food in the future.
Pro: A vegan diet can have health benefits
A skin condition can be a worrying sign of inflammation and potential infection, leading to expensive trips to the vet and an unhappy canine. The most typical causes of a skin condition arise from flea allergies and food allergies, more specifically, foods containing animal proteins such as chicken and beef. If a flea allergy has been ruled out by a vet, then there is a high chance you’re looking at a food related allergy. In such cases, a vegan dog diet could largely relieve the symptoms, preventing them from developing into anything serious.
Other reported benefits include
- a reduction in skin parasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites) and skin allergies
- reduced food intolerance reactions
- improved coat condition
- less offensive smells
- reduced obesity
- regression in signs of arthritis, diabetes, cataracts, and urogenital disease
- improved vitality and well being.
Con: A vegan dog diet needs to be nutritionally complete
One caution is to ensure the vegan dog food you give your pet is nutritionally sufficient. If you don’t get the balance right it may lead to a host of illnesses and complications.
As vegan humans you’re hopefully aware that you should ensure you get adequate sources of key micro-nutrients such as omega-3 and B12, as well as a generally balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals and nutrition. You need to take the same care in making your dog’s diet a healthy one. For more info on this see our page on vegan dog food.
Con: Scrutiny from others
If what you feed your dog meets its nutritional needs, it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business… But we know they’re going to judge. It happens. Everyone loves to have an opinion about how vegans live. I’m sure you’re used to that by now!
Some people are very opinionated with concerns about what we choose to feed our pets. This may be under the misguided belief that we are cruel for ‘depriving’ our canine friends from the nutrition found in animal products. In fact there is ongoing proof that dogs are perfectly able to thrive on vegan/omnivorous diets. It is unfortunate that many are ignorant of this fact and choose to be judgemental of our choice.
Lead by example. As long as we continue to feed our dogs nutritionally complete diets, not only are we not being cruel, but we are making a continued effort to minimize all potential cruelty.
Con: Commercial dog food may be more expensive
Unfortunately, as there is not as much demand for vegan dog food, you will rarely find commercial vegan dog food on sale or at a bargain price.
Con: It takes effort to change
The transition process will take you a week or two, as you gradually introduce the new food to your pet. You can also change the types of treats you give your dogs, to remove animal products used there too.
Con: Vegan dog food is not always available in shops
Choosing vegan options can take a bit of extra fore-thought and planning. Even if your local shops don’t have any good alternatives, there’s always delivery available from Amazon. We’ve reviewed the best dog food brands available on Amazon.
What’s right for YOU and YOUR DOG?
We hope this list helps you think about the pros and cons of a vegan diet for dogs so you can come to your own conclusion about what’s right for you and your pet. If you’d like to learn more about how to make the transition read our page on vegan dog food, treats and supplements.