Are Plant-Based Diets Good for Dogs?

Despite what you might have heard, a plant-based diet can be just as beneficial for dogs as it is for humans! Dogs are members of the taxonomic order Carnivora, which could lead you to assume they are innately carnivores, but that is not the case. That taxonomic order also includes herbivorous pandas, and dogs themselves are best classified as opportunistic feeders.puppy is being cradled by owner

In an article for Canadian Vet, John Hilton explained that dogs naturally eat a variety of foods, and that it would be “entirely possible to formulate a diet or feed for a dog of primarily or exclusively vegetable origin feedstuff that could satisfy all the known essential nutrient requirements for the dog.” 

Could Commercial Food Be Damaging Your Dog’s Health?

We’re in the midst of a burgeoning movement focused on sustainable agriculture and plant-based diets—and in the opinion of Laura Simonson, founder of Dogg Canine Nutrition, “it’s only natural for all the right reasons that we will extend our dietary habits to dogs.”

Commercially available dog food has been linked to a number of health issues, including life-threating and even fatal conditions. A lack of quality control leads to the inclusion of degraded (and sometimes, toxic!) ingredients. Even foods that with a “safe” ingredient list can cause problems. Food allergies and sensitivities can manifest as chronic ailments in dogs similarly to the way these conditions affect humans. Transitioning your pet to plant-based diet can reverse or prevent many of those ailments.

The World’s First Plant-Based Dog Food Study

Simonson’s company, Dogg Canine Nutrition, just completed the world’s first-ever fresh, whole, plant-based canine feeding trial. All the dogs who completed the trial transitioned to the new diet without any issues … and many experienced significant improvements to their health once they had switched to Dogg’s food.

Dog running in a field“The most exciting improvements we saw were in those pets with…either skin or gastrointestinal ailments,” said supervising veterinarian Dr. Gavin Myers. “In small animal veterinary medicine, this subset of patients account for a large majority of the cases we see everyday.”

Although little research has been done on plant-based pet diets, there is no lack of real-life examples. Consider, for example, the example of Bramble. In 2002, Bramble, a 27-year-old border collie who ate an exclusively vegan diet of rice, lentils, and organic vegetables, was short-listed for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records. If you want your pet to live a long, happy life, it seems a vegan diet can certainly be a component of that!

How to Feed Your Dog a Plant-Based Diet

At this time, Dogg’s foods are available only through partner veterinarians and clinics in Vancouver. Major dog food brand Natural Balance offers a vegan option of their own, however. You could also try preparing homemade dog food. If you do, be sure to consult online resources like the website or a guidebook like James Peden’s Vegetarian Cats & Dogs to ensure that you include all the essential nutrients your dog needs to be its healthiest self.