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Can Dogs Be Vegetarian?

Nicole Cosgrove

June 11, 2021

Many people are vegetarians who choose not to eat animals but may eat products that come from them like milk and eggs. This diet is often chosen because of health concerns or moral reasons having to do with harming animals for human consumption.

Humans can easily be vegetarians and live healthy and happy lives. But what about dogs? Can dogs be vegetarians? The answer is yes, dogs can be vegetarians and survive and even do well on a vegetarian regime.
It’s widely believed that dogs are carnivores that eat mainly meat. The fact is, however, that dogs are omnivores like their close relatives the wolves that get their nutrition from both plant and animal sources. Humans are also omnivorous as we eat both meat and plants.

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 Make A Slow Transition to Vegetarianism

dogs eating_Javier Brosch_Shutterstock
Image Credit: _Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

If you want to feed your dog a vegetarian diet, it’s important to make a slow transition to the new diet. If you were to ask your vet how to change dog foods, he’d tell you to go slowly and mix the new food with the old food so your dog’s body can adjust. The same is true when switching your dog from a non-vegetarian diet to a vegetarian diet. The key is to take it nice and easy!

The vegetarian dog food you choose to feed your pet must have all the nutrients your dog needs. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that sets the standards for model pet food regulations in the United States.

Choose a Good Quality Vegetarian Dog Food

dog food-pixabay
Image Credit: Lernestorod, Pixabay

When shopping for commercial vegetarian dog food, look for food that meets the AAFCO guidelines to ensure it contains a formula that’s been third-party tested for nutritional content. This means you’ll have to read the label carefully to ensure the dog food is nutritious so be prepared to do a little bit of work!

A period of two weeks to a month is a good transition schedule to follow. Start by adding ¼ of a portion of the new food to ¾ of a portion of his existing food. Increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food by ¼ every three to five days until you’re feeding your dog nothing but vegetarian food. When you make a gradual transition to the new food, it will help your dog’s digestive system adjust gradually.

It should be noted that making the transition to canned vegetarian food may take less time than changing to a kibble because canned food smells better.

During the transition period, keep an eye on your dog’s health. If his stool becomes loose or he appears to have an upset tummy, slow the process down so things can get back to normal. Some dogs can easily transition to a new diet while others can take longer due to having sensitive stomachs.

What’s in Vegetarian Dog Food

plastic dog food bowl
Image Credit: Pixabay

If you’re wondering what is in vegetarian dog food, we’ve got the information you need! Unlike regular dog food that contains meat like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and meat by-products, vegetarian dog food is completely meat-less.

While vegetarian dog food is meat-less, it may contain other animal products like dairy and eggs. Vegetarian dog food typically contains a variety of ingredients such as:

  • Grains like wheat, barley, oats, etc.
  • Lentils
  • Soya
  • Brown rice
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6

What About Flavor?

Chihuahua dog eating_tanyastock, Shutterstock
Image Credit: tanyastock, Shutterstock

It’s common for a skeptic to find it hard to believe that their dog is going to jump for joy over being fed peas or corn. If you’re concerned your dog may not eat vegetarian dog food, you should know that the most popular meat-less dog foods are flavorful. These foods are not full of artificial flavor either. These dog foods contain high amounts of natural, flavorful protein dogs tend to love.

Just like when you try to switch to new meat-based dog food, your dog will like some of the foods you offer him and snub his nose at others. This is why It’s a good idea to buy sample-size vegetarian dog foods.

Many pet stores sell small packages of dog food including vegetarian food so find one near you that does, so you don’t end up spending a small fortune.

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Conclusion

People for and against feeding dogs a vegetarian diet may not agree with one another, but they all share one common goal: they want what’s best for their pets.

It’s up to you to decide what type of food to feed your dog. If you’re a vegetarian and want your dog to be one too, make the transition to vegetarian dog food a gradual, smooth one. Take the time to read dog food labels so you end up choosing food that offers your dog all the protein, vitamins, and minerals he needs to live a healthy and happy life.


Featured Image Credit: Phuttharak, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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