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What you should know about vegetarian or vegan diets for dogs!

A new trend has been popping up amongst dog-lovers—plant-based diets.

By: Ashley Lee

Last Updated:


We’re all accustomed to seeing dog food made from chicken, beef, and even salmon and duck, but a new trend has been popping up amongst dog-lovers—vegetarian and even vegan diet for dogs.

A recent study at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College found that 35 percent of pet owners are interested in a vegan diet for dogs However, the majority of these owners, 55 percent, stated they would need more evidence that a vegan diet is appropriate for their pets, as well as approval from their vets.

Vegans and vegetarians made up approximately six percent of all those surveyed; of those, 27 percent were already feeding their pets a plant-based diet. 78 percent of vegans not currently feeding their pets a plant-based diet reported they were eager to make the switch as long as the diet met all nutritional needs. You can even make your dog treats with these easy recipes!

But are dogs’ nutritional needs met with a vegetarian diet? What about a vegan diet for dogs? In short, yes, technically speaking, dogs can survive and even do well on a vegetarian or vegan diet, says Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat meat and fruits and vegetables, so they are capable of absorbing nutrients from plants.

Dogs can thrive on a vegetarian diet, particularly lacto-ovo vegetarian (meaning a vegetarian diet that includes milk products and eggs), says Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM. Your pup can also survive on a vegan diet, but it would need to be very carefully formulated and supervised by a professional. 

“Most dogs can do quite well on a carefully designed vegan diet that meets all of their nutritional needs,” says Dr. Cailin R. Heinze, DVM. “As a veterinary nutritionist, I use meat-free diets quite a bit to help manage various health concerns [such as allergies to animal proteins]. The challenge is that designing these diets is not the easiest thing to do.”

Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, weighs in, saying, “theoretically, you can feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it’s not something you do lightly, and you definitely need to do it with a nutritionist.”

As head researcher Sarah Dodd summarizes, “this study shows there is a clear need for further research in this area.” In the meantime, if you are considering switching your dog’s diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian first.

Recommended Reading:
10 People Foods for Dogs
Can Dogs Eat Bananas?

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Last Updated:

By: Ashley Lee
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