Grain-free dog food is best! No, raw dog food - hold on, is that hypoallergenic? Wait, why aren’t you cooking your dog’s food at home, using locally sourced organic ingredients?
With all these conflicting opinions, how are we supposed to know how best to feed our pups? Who can we really trust when it comes to our dog’s health? Well, most people would say their vet. And vets across the globe have come out in support of plant-based diets for dogs.
Trust me, I’m a dog-tor
Dr Ernie Ward, an award-winning veterinarian who founded the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in America, is a loud supporter of plant-based dog diets. He explains that “it’s a common misconception that dogs need animal meat in their diet. What they really need is protein, and protein is readily available to dogs from a variety of plant-based sources. Dogs need nutrients not ingredients.” Ernie is so passionate about the benefits of vegan dog food that he wrote a whole book about it!
Another enthusiast of plant-based pet food is Professor Andrew Knight, a small animal vet whose website is packed with evidence-based facts supporting a vegan diet for dogs. Andrew writes that as well as “increased overall health, and decreased incidences of cancer, infections and hypothyroidism”, numerous other happy guardians of vegetarian dogs have reported “decreased ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites), improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, decreased arthritis, improved vitality, improved stool odour and cataract resolution.” That’s an impressive list: where do we get what our dogs are having?!
Ernie and Andrew aren’t the only experts supporting vegan dog food. In 2019, 17 global leaders in veterinary nutrition and science spoke about the benefits of plant-based feeding at the world’s first Plant-Powered Dog Food Summit. The event was created for the growing number of people interested in feeding their dog a plant-based diet so, if you’re reading this, you’re not alone!
What don’t vets recommend?
Raw dog food
According to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, American Veterinary Medical Association and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, raw meat pet food can introduce bad bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella and even parasites into our pets and our homes. And while the high levels of fat might make your dog’s coat shiny, they also come with obesity risks: something no vet would encourage.
Homemade dog food
When we feed our dogs a commercial complete vegan dog food, we can be certain that they’re getting their doggy-5-a-day and more: complete means that nutritional experts have agreed your pup would be healthy and happy even if they only ate that dog food for the rest of their life. But some pet parents, with the best intentions, want to make their own homemade dog food. After all, a home-cooked meal is how we show our loved ones how much we care.
Problem is, it’s super tricky to balance all the micro-minerals and essential vitamins our dogs need when we’re making their food from scratch. One study looked at 200 homemade dog food recipes and found that 95% lacked at least one essential nutrient. Another study had vets prescribe dogs nutritionally complete homemade diets but, after only six months, a third of pet parents had tweaked the recipe, 40% used the wrong amounts of ingredients and 35% didn’t use the prescribed vitamin and mineral supplements.
Is your vet barking up the wrong tree?
When our dogs miss out on important vitamins and nutrients, they get sick and we take them to the vet. It’s no wonder that some vets are still nervous about recommending plant-based diets when they only see dogs who haven’t been eating the right things! And remember, vets don't get detailed nutritional education as a part of their training. If your vet doesn’t support plant-based diets, ask them why not... you might just teach them something new.
The fact is, there’s no medical reason a dog shouldn’t thrive without meat so long as they’re getting all the good stuff in their plant-based dog food. A complete label on your vegan dog food makes sure of that and will keep your dog away from the vet’s door. Yet another reason for your pup to thank you.
Don’t take our word for it. You can read the research in the links below.
- On concerns around feeding raw meat diets to dogs in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2001)
- The nasties in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs in Veterinary Record (2018)
- Risks to the wider household when feeding raw meat diets to dogs are reviewed in One Health journal (2021)
- Parasite risks from raw meat-based diets for pets in Companion Animal (2020)
- On the problems with homemade pet diets in Topics in Companion Animal Medicine (2008)
- The paper about poor dog food recipes in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2013)
- And people not following good recipes, in Journal of Nutritional Science (2014).
This Veganuary why not treat your pooch to THE PACK. Our meals are nutritionally complete and balanced plus we are offering 40% off to new customers on their first order just use PACKVEG40 at checkout. Winner, winner, plant-based dinner!