Happy Herbivore Blog

February 16, 2012

Yes, My Dogs are Vegan

A while ago I posted about how my whole family is vegan, including my dogs. All of the vets I have gone to have always been supportive, with one saying she would recommend it more if she thought more owners would be open to the idea.

A vegan diet may not be suitable for all dogs, but it can be for some, particularly senior dogs and small breeds, as well as dogs with food allergies (like mine).

About a year and a half ago, I started making making my own dog food after we ran out of vegan kibble, the store was out, and the pugs couldn't go hungry. They loved their home cooked meals so much that I decided to stick with it, and a few months later we moved to the Caribbean, where I pretty much had to make their food regardless. There were some kibbles at the store, but none were hypoallergenic or brands that I trusted, and of course, none were vegan or vegetarian. So home cooked it was!

Now that we're back in the states, I do feed them commercial vegan dog kibble (V-dog) on occasion, such as when we are traveling, or someone else is looking after them when we are away... but I'm still trying to do cooked meals as much as possible. 

The pugs are so much happier with home cooked meals and I don't blame them... given the choice between kibble and fresh food, I know which one I'd prefer!

As a proactive measure, I do use vegedog supplement (and they send dog food recipes too!).

So what do I feed my dogs? Pretty much anything that isn't hazardous (i.e. chocolate, coffee, raisins, grapes, onions, mushrooms, etc). 

The base of their meals tends to be lentils or beans, plus we add in an array of finely chopped raw vegetables -- they love veggies! We also add in brown rice, oats, quinoa or potatoes from time to time.

It takes me about an hour to make their food, but when I'm done I have enough for the week and I joke that they are our compost pile, because they get fruit and vegetable scraps, plus leftovers (if we have any). 

Dogs, like people, have preferences. Lily Bean doesn't do celery and Quaid doesn't do bananas. Otherwise, I have yet to find something that they don't like, they love carrots, peas and lentils the best and Lily Bean will run in circles for apples! 

My sister is not really a dog person (she's the cat lover in the family) but she wanted me to talk about cats and if they can be vegan.

I find that most veterinarians are split on whether cats can or cannot be vegan. The hangup is taurine. While synthetic versions of taurine are available, some vets don't believe they are "good enough."  

My vets (the ones that are fine with the dogs being vegan) all unanimously agreed while most dogs can be vegan, cats cannot... but my sister has done a lot of research on this, and talked with vets and cat breeders/owners who disagree and have had success. 

If you decide to try your cats on a vegan diet (please talk to your vet first!) know that there are some precautions. For example, cats need to be watched for urinary health problems if they are eating a vegan diet, which may require tests and trips to the vet. You can read more about issues with vegan cats here.

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