Veterinarians, Canine Nutritionists and University Academics on Vegan Dog Food
Can I feed my dog vegan dog food? Is plant-based food healthy for my dog?
There is an increasing amount of research by veterinarians, canine nutritionists and scientists of not just the nutritional appropriateness of vegan dog food but also the many health-giving benefits plant-based food offers our dogs.
Following are the views of a number of highly qualified and well-respected veterinary professionals.
Dr. Sarah Dodd BVSc, MSc, PhD, DECVCN Board-certified Veterinary Nutritionist
‘…there are a lot of dogs that have dietary hypersensitivities and allergies to those common protein sources that are used so ubiquitously within the pet food industry’ (1)
‘..therapeutic diets that are entirely plant-based and they’re used particularly for dietary hypersensitivities or we’ll use them if we have hyperlipidaemia or they can be really great for animals with liver compromise as well because they have a nicer gentler amino acid profile’
‘… there are some instances where we actually, for therapeutic reasons, want the animal to be on a plant-based diet’
Dr. Clare Knottenbelt BVSc University of Bristol, MSc University of Edinburgh RCVS Veterinary Oncologist
“We know that plant-based food contains a lot more antioxidants. So that’s a good thing because that’s going to help convert these cells to, to more normal, healthy cells”
“And we know that a plant-based diet can help dogs live longer and stay generally more healthy. And we have published evidence to support that.” (2)
“So therefore, yes, plant-based feeding could stop cancer in dogs.”
Dr. Greg Aldrich, PhD – Nutrition Sciences Research Associate Professor at Kansas State University
‘…. they can be nutritionally complete and balanced with a bit of diligence’
Dr. Guy Sandelowsky BSc. BVet Med Sci. BVM BVS MRCVS
“It’s well known in humans to watch the amount of processed meat we eat as it can negatively affect our health with problems like obesity and cancer, but for our four-legged friends we often don’t do the same.”
“Lots of dog parents who have switched their dogs to a plant-based diet tell me that they see huge improvements in their dogs’ health and wellbeing. They remark on increased energy levels, shinier coats and better stools.”
“Even if you don’t feel ready to go fully plant-based yet, maybe try going flexitarian and switching out a meat-based meal a day for a plant-based one, every little bit helps.”
Dr. Kelly Swanson, Professor of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois
‘Although dogs and cats have unique metabolic and nutrient requirements (e.g., protein, arginine, taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, niacin), these targets may be reached with a wide variety of ingredient sources’
Dr. Lorelei Wakefield VMD, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
“All dogs can benefit from a vegan diet. Thanks to ten thousand years of evolution alongside humankind, dogs are now physiologically omnivores. This means they can thrive on a nutritionally balanced plant-based food”
Dr. Richard Pitcairn DVM, Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
“I am an advocate for emphasizing a plant-based diet for dogs and cats for reasons of health, ethics and resource concern. Many of the chronic health problems in both dogs and cats are effects of eating other animals which have accumulated many environmental toxins, or that have been given drugs or other substances.”
Dr. Andrew Knight BSc (Vet Biol), BVMS, CertAW, MANZCVS, DipWCAWBM (AWSEL), DACAW, PhD, MRCVS, SFHEA
Prof Andrew Knight and colleagues (Huang E, Rai N, Brown H) published a ground-breaking research paper on the 13th April 2022 that stated from the findings of 2639 dogs, that “the pooled evidence to date indicates that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs, are nutritionally sound vegan diets.”
Dr. Debra Voulgaris DVM, MA, CVA, CCRP, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine & Louisiana State
“As an ethical veterinarian, I have a responsibility to recommend foods for my patients that are balanced and healthy. As an ethical vegan, I have a responsibility to promote compassion to all animals, not just my patients.”
Dr. Marybeth Minter DVM, Colorado State University. Mariposa Veterinary Service, Kanab, UT
“After seeing the livestock industry in action, and coming from a place of compassion, health and environmental concern, I am an advocate of feeding a plant-based diet for dogs and cats. Many of my patients have attained improved health with a plant-based diet alone.”
Dr. Jena Questen DVM, CertAqV, Aspen Park Vet Hospital
“Why do I support a vegan diet for dogs? Because the science is clear: 1) Humans and dogs are both omnivores, 2) A plant-based diet is the best diet for health and longevity for humans, and 3) I want my animals to live as long, and healthy, as possible, therefore a plant based diet is what I feed and recommend, with tremendous results!”
Adronie Verbrugghe – DVM, PhD, Dip ECVCN Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph
‘Dogs and cats have dietary requirements for energy and essential nutrients, but they do not have requirements for specific ingredients, no matter if these ingredients are animal-derived, plant-derived or synthetic.’
Dr. Cailin R. Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVIM (Nutrition) Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University
Dr Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS BVMedSci MRCVS University of Nottingham
‘Vegan dog food is fairly new in the world of dog food nutrition, and many vets and pet owners are still a little cautious about feeding it, especially with dogs sitting right on the line between carnivore and omnivore. However, there are some great vegan diets out there that are complete and balanced and might be worth a try.’
Dr. Jennifer Coates BSc McGill University, DVM Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
‘The answer is yes — dogs can eat a vegetarian diet and thrive.’
‘It is true that dogs belong to the order Carnivora, but they are actually omnivores. The canine body has the ability to transform certain amino acids, the building blocks or protein, into others, meaning that dogs can get all the amino acids they need while avoiding meat.’
‘Thankfully, dogs are very good at converting some types of amino acids into others. When used in the right combination, ingredients like beans, soybeans, sweet potatoes, peas, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, rice, and whole grains can supply dogs with all their essential amino acids.’
‘The only issue I’ve seen with dogs being switched to a vegetarian food is one of acceptance. It seems to me that dogs who are used to eating diets that contain meat go through a “where’s the beef, chicken … etc.?” stage. Overcoming this is easy if you simply mix increasing amounts of the new food in with decreasing amounts of the old and make the change slowly.
So, if feeding meat to your dog presents an ethical quandary for you, options are available.’
Dr. Lisa Weeth, DVM, DACVN®, Head of Nutrition Department Metropolitan Animal Specialty Hospital
“I don’t have a problem with transitioning their healthy, adult dog onto a vegan or vegetarian diet as long as it is balanced for their life stage and balanced for a healthy adult. At the end of the day, if we’re meeting all of the individual animal’s needs, then we have a lot of flexibility in what we can feed them.”
“For dogs with things like pancreatitis or high triglyceride levels, they may do better on a moderate fat vegan or vegetarian diet.”
Dr. Joseph W. Bartges, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN Professor of Medicine and Nutrition University of Georgia
A vegan diet may be a good option for your dog if she needs to avoid animal proteins.
“For example, with kidney disease, urate bladder stones and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).”
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