Vegetarian Dogs – Can Dogs Really Be Vegetarian?

May 5, 2019
Do vegetarian dogs exist? It can happen. But, when it does, it's normally because they have an owner that is vegetarian too.

Do vegetarian dogs exist? It can happen. But, when it does, it’s normally because they have an owner who is vegetarian too.

Dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores, which is why experts don’t recommend cutting meat out of their diets.

In countries where vegetarian dogs are most common and demand for vegetarian food is high, you can usually find a wide range of vegetarian dog foods on the market.

The number of vegetarian dogs is usually in proportion to the number of vegetarian owners. A vegetarian or vegan owner usually decides to switch their dogs to a vegetarian diet because they want their pets to live by the same principles.

Should there be vegetarian dogs?

Vegetarian dogs: is it possible?

Some vets are of the opinion that, as dogs have always eaten meat, they shouldn’t be put on a vegetarian diet. Clinical veterinarian José Luis Torres says: “It is possible to feed your dogs on a vegetarian diet. Many people do, and nothing bad usually happens. But this doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your pet.”

When it comes to deciding which food to feed your vegetarian dog, you need to choose one that will offer him the vitamins and nutrients he needs for a healthy and complete diet.

The National Association of Pet Food Manufacturers (ANFAAC) states: “technically, a dog can live on a diet that’s compatible with our idea of a vegetarian diet, as long as you complement it with supplements that give them the nutrients that a 100% vegetarian diet won’t give them.”

Veterinary checkups

If you want to switch your dogs to a vegetarian diet, it’s important for your vet to monitor the process. Remember, as a general rule, vets don’t recommend changes in an animal’s diet, which is why it’s important that you do it gradually, and that your vet monitors it.

Advice for having a vegetarian dog

  • If you decide to put your dog on a vegetarian diet, the first thing you need to do is consult with a vet. Every animal is different, and if there are any underlying health issues, a change in diet might not be a good idea.
  • Dogs are naturally carnivorous, but became omnivores when they were domesticated by man. Evolution means that all animals have developed a specific physiology according to their lifestyle.
  • In the same way that humans have teeth designed for grinding, chewing and cutting food, a dog’s teeth are designed for cutting, tearing and ripping food apart. They don’t have molars, which are exclusively for eating vegetables.
  • While humans’ digestive systems are designed for eating a variety of different foods, dogs’ digestive systems are designed for eating meat.

Because vegetables take longer to digest, humans have very long intestines. Dogs, on the other hand, have shorter intestines. In fact, the gastric acid in their stomachs is far more acidic than ours.

Vegetarian dogs – don’t decide for your pet

A dog begging for food.

Becoming a vegetarian is a personal decision which should only affect the individual. Only feeding your dog vegetables will have a huge impact on its health. A dog’s diet needs to be at least 80% protein to keep it healthy.

In the wild, dogs hunt and eat their prey. If they ever eat any vegetables, they get them from the stomachs and intestines of the animals they eat. You’ll never see a wild dog scavenging carrots from your vegetable patch!

Dogs are carnivores, and their diet should reflect this. Before you make any changes to their diet, especially such a drastic change, it’s essential to consult with a vet, who will arrange for regular checkups to monitor your pet.

Vegetarian dog foods

Having said all that, it’s true that vegetarian dog foods are high in fiber and low in calories. They are made using eco-friendly ingredients. This means they’re ideal for overweight dogs or dogs with allergies.

Vegetarian dog food doesn’t contain meat or animal products. These types of eco-friendly, vegan dog foods usually contain everything your dog needs for a healthy diet, but some supplements may be necessary.