Can you feed dogs vegan? – Benefits and Risks
Vegan diets are becoming increasingly popular. After all, this way of life is not only healthy, but also better for the climate and for the animals.
A change difficult, but doable. Veganuary , for example, offers motivating incentives, a challenge in which you try out a vegan diet for 31 days in January.
Yes it works Vegan also for pets ? Naturally vegetarian companions like rabbits or guinea pigs live it up and set an example, but what about our carnivorous roommates? Can or may we feed dogs or cats vegan at all? What are possible benefits and risks? You will find the answers in this blog!
What is vegan diet
A vegan diet completely avoids the consumption of animal products. This includes primarily meat, of course, but also milk, dairy products and eggs. But not only the diet, often the entire way of life is changed so that no articles of animal origin such as leather, wool and the like are used.
What is the organic diet of dogs like?
We all know that our dogs, no matter how big or small, are descended from wolves. Wolves, like their domesticated relatives, are so-called facultative carnivores. This means that they are basically carnivores, but not only feed on meat and animal tissue, but also on plants. They eat them by eating the contents of their prey's stomach or when they do not kill any prey. So your digestive system has the ability to digest plant-based carbohydrates and proteins to a certain extent. Compared to the wolf, the dog has increasingly adapted to our human diet over the past millennia. For example, they can use carbohydrates much better than their wild ancestors because they have more amylase, an important digestive enzyme.
Can dogs be vegan?
Yes, because they can also absorb the essential nutrients for their metabolism entirely from plant-based feed components.
Unlike cats: They need, for example, the essential amino acid taurine, which only comes from animal tissue. In addition, cats cannot digest vegetable building blocks because they lack the necessary enzymes and their intestines are designed for pure meat digestion. Because this threatens serious organ damage, cats must not be fed vegan.
Can you feed dogs vegan in Germany?
As we now know, a vegan diet for dogs is quite possible. But we come to another question: are we allowed to feed them meatless at all?
Are there animal welfare concerns or legal bans?
First of all: Yes, in Germany it is not forbidden by law to feed dogs vegan.
The Animal Welfare Act prescribes appropriate and species-appropriate nutrition for animals. Accordingly, according to German law, it is not forbidden to feed a dog vegan, since it is biologically a facultative carnivore.
However, with vegan feeding you have to make sure that the dog gets healthy food that meets their needs , otherwise there is an animal welfare violation. A vegan diet is forbidden for cats , since these obligate carnivores cannot be fed a vegan diet without harming their health.
Pros and cons of vegan feeding
Benefits of vegan food
vegan dogs are healthier
Vegan food can be healthier for dogs. A large study in the UK showed that dogs on a vegan diet were less likely to need vet visits or medical treatment.
lower risk of a variety of diseases such as gout or cancer
good for feed allergies to animal proteins
If a furry friend has an allergy to animal proteins from chicken, beef, etc., it can sometimes be difficult to find suitable food to which the furry friend is not allergic. With meat-free feeding without any animal feed ingredients, this is not a problem. For food-sensitive four-legged friends, we recommend Sensitive Little No. 1 from Vegdog .
Disadvantages of vegan feeding
The greatest risk with a vegan diet is the high risk of nutrient deficiencies. As already mentioned, it is the correct content of the feed components that is important, not the origin.
A vegan feed, just like a conventional feed, must have sufficient essential substances. These include vitamins A, D, E, K and B vitamins, but also bulk and trace elements such as iron, copper and zinc. In addition, all essential amino acids such as lysine, methionine, cysteine and others as well as omega-3 fatty acids must be included. It may be necessary to supplement these nutritional building blocks with mineral powders, such as All-In Veluxe from Vegdog .
Therefore, the selected vegan food must have a balanced content of these nutrients in order to cover the individual needs of your darling.
Vegetable proteins are harder to digest
Since vegetable proteins are much more difficult for dogs to digest than animal proteins, the kidneys and liver can be put under greater stress.
not recommended for growing, pregnant, sporting, sick and old dogs
The vegan diet of adult, healthy dogs is a challenge, with a wholesome complete food such as Adult No 1 from Vegdog . But for dogs that have special needs, such as pregnant bitches or growing puppies, balanced feeding is even more complicated.
On the one hand, this is due to the fact that there are too few studies, and on the other hand, even minor malnutrition can have fatal consequences. With these, but also with sporty or sick four-legged friends, a vegan diet should therefore be avoided to be on the safe side.
Healthy, happy and vegan
As you now know, you can feed your dog vegan without any problems. This form of meatless feeding even has some health benefits!
However, you have to make sure that he gets enough nutrients with his vegan meals so that he doesn't get any deficiency symptoms or even illnesses. To be on the safe side, get advice from dog nutrition experts and veterinarians when looking for the right food or when calculating the individual ration, so that together you can find the perfect vegan diet for your furry friend.
Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt ML, Maqbool K, Webster MT, Perloski M, ... & Lindblad-Toh K (2013). The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature, 495(7441), 360-364. ( https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A617238&dswid=-7445 )
Knight A, Huang E, Rai N, Brown H (2022) Vegan versus meat-based dog food: Guardian-reported indicators of health. PLoS ONE 17(4): e0265662. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265662