Can Dogs Thrive on a Vegan Diet?

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The question of whether or not dogs can live meat-free seemed to have an obvious answer. No, they can’t. At least that’s what we all thought, but a growing body of scientific literature seems to prove otherwise. With a rise in the number of people turning vegan, there has also been an increase in the number of vegan dogs. Even the market for vegan pet food seems to be growing, but what is fact and what is fiction? Is a vegan diet safe for your canine friends?  

Dogs have adapted to a starch-rich diet

Although dogs belong to the family of wolves, studies have found differences in their genome from that of wolves. They seem to be able to digest starches better, produce more enzymes needed for its digestion, and have lower requirements for protein and amino acids. They are also capable of utilizing vitamins A and D from plant sources, just like humans.

Dogs need protein

Protein seems to be synonymous with meat, but plant-based sources of protein also exist. Beans, corn, soy, and whole grains are plant-based sources of protein that can provide the amino acids your dog needs.  In fact, some dogs may be allergic to animal protein, and in such cases, vets may recommend plant based diets for their health. The huge population of vegan dogs in the world are proof of the fact that dogs can be meat-free. One such inspiring figure is Bramble, a 25-year-old collie, and the oldest dog in the world.

Supplement, if necessary

Some dogs may be deficient in L-carnitine and taurine based on breed, size, and genetic make-up. In such cases, they may require supplementation of these two amino acids from the local pet store, but this is not common to all dogs on a plant-based diet. 

Vegan dog food

Vegan pet food is usually packed with all the nutrients your pet requires and is growing in popularity. If you’re trying to shift your dog to a plant based diet and are looking for a quick fix, you can even check out the latest vegan pet food brands at your local store or online.  

The key is a well-balanced meal plan

If you’re going to end up feeding your dog only carrots and cucumbers, you may not find success with a vegan diet. It’s important to do your research first if you plan to make the switch. Connect with others who have vegan dogs, and find community groups online to help you with recipes or vegan pet food options. Your dog can thrive on a vegan diet with your vet’s help.

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