We Forced Our Dogs to Go Vegan
It’s true. You could say we forced our dogs to go vegan.
You’re either rolling your eyes right now or you’re loudly applauding. I have come to find out that there is no middle ground on this issue.
I don’t know of any dogs in the world loved as much as our two. Even Lassie, as great as she was, wasn’t loved so deeply and by as many as our two. Anna and Sasha are members of our family. They’re the stealers of our food scraps and guardians of our household. That mailman doesn’t stand a chance.
When Alex and I first went vegan, we had no intentions of bringing our dogs along for the ride. While we were both ethically against using animal products in our own lives, we valued our dogs above all animals in the world. We believed that they HAD to have meat and that was just the way it was going to have to be.
At first, we tried buying only dog food with fish as the meat source. I don’t know why this seemed like a better alternative, but something about no land animals dying for our dogs felt better than knowing there was chicken, beef, lamb, etc. in their food. I mean, I can pet and love on land animals, but I’ve never pet a fish. I suppose this is why many people choose the pescetarian route. Fish just aren’t cute and cuddly like our pupperonis. They are sentient beings, though, so we needed to find a better option.
To be honest, this was the first time we had really started paying attention to what was in our companion animals’ food. Before, we would just buy the largest bag of a familiar name brand food we could find at a reasonable price at a warehouse such as Sam’s. They were well advertised so they were successful enough to afford TV slots, and they told us repeatedly that they were better than the other guy. Surely nobody would promote them like that if they weren’t quality food for our animal friends, right?
The more we started to look at what we had been feeding our dogs, the more we came to realize that many of the “foods” at the average store were full of fillers that weren’t really helping our dogs to live out their lives in the healthiest way possible.
While we were cutting the animal protein down in our dogs’ food, we stumbled upon others who were actually feeding their dogs a vegan diet. We were shocked because we didn’t know that was even a possibility. We were curious, but we were also cautious. We wanted to research and find out the truth about what dogs needed before we made any rash decisions.
We also happened to be taking care of routine checks and medicines that Anna and Sasha needed with our veterinarian. I decided to ask our veterinarian her thoughts on the matter because I really wanted her approval before we tried anything like this.
Surprisingly, our vet said she knew many dogs who were thriving on a vegan diet. She said that putting our dogs on a vegan diet was certainly possible and she answered all of the questions/concerns we had.
With the green light, we decided to go ahead and give our dogs a lifestyle that aligns with our ethics. Progress was slow at first because we wanted to be careful to make sure our babies remained healthy and vibrant and not overly flatulent.
I am Not a Veterinarian
I have exactly zero medical degrees/certifications relating to humans or non-human animals (though my husband sometimes acts like he thinks he has one), so please consult your veterinarian. We made sure we got multiple veterinarian recommendations, both in person and from internet research, before we made our decision. I would advise you do the same. We also consulted our dog trainer at the time. He informed us that it could be done, as long as we were cautious and paid attention to how our dogs responded.
Aside from your veterinarian, here are some other good resources for learning about a plant-based diet for canines.
- These veterinarians support and endorse a vegan diet for dogs
- Dr. Jennifer Coates of PetMD discusses a meat-free diet for dogs
- Even more information on nutrition for healthy vegan dogs!
We have certainly faced critics in our decision. We get asked questions like, “but why do you get to make that decision for them? Shouldn’t they be able to determine how they live their lives?”
And to this, I ask, “Why do you get to decide if that cow gets turned into a burger? Shouldn’t they be able to determine how to live their lives? Why do you get to decide if that pig gets slaughtered to become bacon?”
We also have to stop and recognize that our animal companions cannot make these choices for themselves and it is our duty to make the decision we feel is best for them. Parents do this as well when they make choices for their children such as:
- where they go to school
- where they live
- what activities they are involved in
- where family vacations take place
- if the children are involved in church or other religious activities
- the clothes the children wear
- etc. etc. etc.
Parents have to make decisions for their children, and we see our pets the same way. They don’t speak English as far as I know (at least ours don’t – if your dog speaks English please let me know because that would be awesome). They can’t say, “pardon me, Brittney and Alex, but we would much prefer you bring home that pink sack of delectable kibble with the salmon on it.” Until they speak up or show signs of poor health, I will continue to feed them a vegan diet… because:
- we did our research
- the results we have seen are incredible.
Positives We Have Noticed:
- Our dogs have more energy than before. Okay, maybe this is a negative if you don’t enjoy being woken up in the middle of the night to play a game of tug-of-war. In general, our dogs have more energy to run, play, and wrestle than they ever had before.
- They now have shinier coats. If my coat looked that fabulous, I’d run around naked too.
- Our dogs’ breath is less stinky. You should notice that I didn’t say their breath doesn’t stink. It just doesn’t stink near as much as it used to. We can’t help that dogs eat poop!
- Their weight has balanced out. Sasha was malnourished when we adopted her, and she had trouble putting on the weight she needed. Anna had a little bit of extra fluff and didn’t have the energy to exercise off the weight she needed to lose. Our dogs have been vegan for a little more than a year now and both of these issues have been resolved.
Cons, because I want to be completely honest with you:
- Our dogs fart a lot. I mean, just a humans do, vegan dogs have an increased flatulence. With an increase in fiber, this is a totally natural response. The first month or two might leave your dog (or you, if you’re making the change) a little bloated and uncomfortable. It passes as your body adjusts. That said, don’t change their food all at once. Do it gradually.
- Vegan dog food CAN be more expensive than conventional dog food. There are some costly vegan food options for dogs for sure, but you do not have to choose the most expensive products. There are also more affordable options. With that in mind, think about how much you love and value your furbabies. Our animals deserve the very best we can provide. Remember, the cheap food is cheap because most of it isn’t food.
- People can get pretty judgmental about this. Meh, it is what it is.
Look at my friend’s adorable vegan dog!
My friend, Madison over at Madly Organic, also chose to “force” her sweet Layla to go vegan. To combat the prices of expensive, specialty vegan dog food, Madison decided to make her own food for her pup.
You can find her recipe here.
Vegan Dog Foods:
Here are some of the many available options for you and your pups. You can simply click the pictures to find more information on ingredients, nutrition, and pricing.
Do you have or know a vegan canine? Are you opposed to dogs eating vegan? Let me know in the comment area below!