Dog Food 101: Can Dogs Be Vegetarians?

As people, we sometimes choose a vegetarian diet to make our bodies healthier. By eating mostly vegetables, the risk of heart disease and obesity can sometimes be lowered. If a vegetarian diet is good for us humans, can dogs be vegetarians as well?

The short answer is "yes", it is possible - but not always advisable! Before you decide if a vegan diet is right for your dog, there are a few things you should know.

Can Dogs Be Vegetarians?

Basket Of Vegetables

One of the first steps to determine whether your dog can really be a vegetarian is to determine if they are carnivores or omnivores.

  • Carnivores are animals that survive and get all the nutrients they need from food made out of animal tissue.

  • Omnivores are animals that eat both meat and plants to provide the nutrients that their bodies need.

The debate about dogs being carnivores or omnivores still goes on today - with some who believe that they are natural carnivores and some who say they have evolved with humans to become omnivores.

There are a few reasons why dogs are considered as carnivores:

  • Their ancestors - wolves, are carnivores.
  • Dogs don’t have flat boxy back teeth to grind vegetables - instead they have pointy back teeth for chopping meat.
  • They do not have amylase in their saliva that helps break down starch before the food reaches their stomach.

Dogs are made to be naturally carnivores. But that doesn’t make it impossible for them to survive and thrive with an omnivore or a vegetarian diet. Dogs have long evolved and are known to eat what we eat, which is a mix of meat and plant products.

Why Are Some Dogs Vegetarians?

Vegan Dog Close Up

Although dogs are naturally carnivores, there are still some owners who choose to make their dogs vegetarian. This could simply be because it is their own personal choice - or their canine may have food allergies that can be avoided by being a vegetarian.

Parents choice

Some pet parents are very passionate in making a stand with their choice of being a vegetarian, that they also choose to make their dogs vegetarians. There is nothing wrong with this as long as the dog’s nutritional requirements are met.

Protein allergies

There are also some canines that may be allergic to different animal proteins fed to them. This is why you should be careful and observant when feeding your dog with meat.

Skin allergies

Most of the time we think that our dogs just have fleas, which is why they scratch a lot. Some may even have their fur fall out because of the itchiness. But fleas are not always the cause of the skin allergies.

It can also be caused by the type of meat fed to your dog. Through a vegetarian diet, your dog can be relieved of the allergy.

Downfalls of a Vegetarian Diet

Sad Dog On A Vegetarian Diet

Although dogs can have a vegetarian diet, owners should still be careful about switching their dogs to this kind of diet. Before you start with the switch, it is important to consult with a veterinarian who can tell you the nutritional requirements of your pet.

Simply switching to a vegetarian diet without replacing the nutrients that the dogs get in meat can be very harmful to their health. Even if it seems that everything is fine, things can change quickly - causing sickness and even death. 

Another downfall to making your dog a vegetarian is their own preference. In order for you to succeed in switching your dog to a vegetarian diet, you need to make sure that they eat what you feed them. You also need to make sure that they eat enough of what you feed them so that they get enough nutrients.

The key in making a vegetarian diet work is to make sure to closely monitor your dog’s condition and health. This is done through regular visits to the vet and proper monitoring of the amount of food they consume.

Homemade or Mass Produced Vegetarian Food

Pup Chewing On A Stick

The vegetarian food for sensitive stomach dog that you feed to your pet can be either homemade or bought in the store. Some pet owners prefer making their own dog food - as they know exactly what goes in it. If you choose this route, you should make sure that you don’t just prepare what is available but make sure they are getting enough of the nutrients that they need.

Apart from your home made vegetarian dish for your dogs, you may also need to give them nutritional supplements to make sure that they are properly nourished. This helps them not only survive but to thrive with the vegan diet.

Another option is to give them store bought vegetarian pet food. This is the easy route because you won’t have to prepare anything. Quality vegetarian pet foods have added nutrients to ensure a balance diet. Similarly, nutritional supplements can be given too.

Final Thoughts

In summary, can dogs can be vegetarians? They can if you want them to be, but it is not advised for all dogs. Pet owners of vegetarian dogs need to make sure they have enough nutrients in their diet and enough replacement food for the meat that they require.

Dogs on a vegetarian diet can benefit well from it, especially if they have meat allergies. However, they still need nutrients in the meat to thrive.

On the other hand, a vegetarian diet can negatively affect your dog’s health especially when they don’t eat enough.

A vegetarian dog is possible, but you will need to find a vegetarian food that your dog will love - monitor your dog’s nutrient intake - regularly visit the vet to check on your dog’s health. 

It takes a lot of work but it can be done by a loving and determined dog owner.

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