I’ve been asked this question more than a few times, which may sound shocking to some pet parents.
With the recent popularity in vegan and cruelty-free lifestyles, some pet parents are asking if their dog can adopt these same practises. Can dogs live a vegan or even a vegetarian lifestyle, while maintaining proper health?
The answer is sometimes.
Traditionally in the wild, most canines are omnivores -meaning they eat meat and plants-, but they tend to gain the majority of their nutrients from meat. That’s why healthy dog food has a higher percentage of meat protein than other nutrients. Dogs, like people, need a balanced level of protein, fat, and carbs to maintain a healthy weight, and promote growth. Without meat protein, the average dog will be lacking vital nutrients.
This means that, an otherwise healthy dog should not adopt a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. However, there are some that can and should.
What Is A Protein Allergy?
A protein allergy is a very complex, and often severe, allergic reaction to meat proteins. Yes, there are dogs that are allergic to meat.
Unfortunately, due to overbreeding, inbreeding, overfeeding, genetic interference, and general interference, humans have mutated a once majestic beast into an absolute abomination. We are witnessing an epidemic of allergies, health complications, genetic mutations, and physical disabilities in dogs – sometimes created on purpose. In reality, we should be ashamed. However, we can’t move backwards, and now our responsibility is to provide the best care possible to our pets.
For dogs who are allergic to meat proteins, there are options and ways of ensuring that they receive necessary nutrition for survival. These are the dogs that can and should adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.
What Do You Feed A Dog That’s Allergic To Meat?
This is a question that many pet parents struggle with. Unfortunately, quite a few pet owners do not have the resources to provide a meat-free diet for their dog, ultimately resulting in them having to make the hard decision to either re-home or have their pup euthanized. A friend of mine recently went through this with her boy, Bosco. In the end, the vet and family decided that letting him go was best for him.
A vegetarian diet for dogs can be complicated, but there are products and options available, other than making your own food at home –which can be outrageously expensive. Companies like Natural Balance carry a Vegetarian Diet for dogs who cannot eat, or have sensitivities to, meat. This food can be purchased in kibble form or canned wet food, and is widely used across North America. The difficulty with Natural Balance’s formula is that it is not grain free, which is one of the most common allergies known to dog parents.
One of my favorite options is the Honest Kitchen dehydrated vegetable food. This is a gluten free, grain free, and meat free alternative. The Preference formula and Base formula are packed with necessary nutrients for your dog. This dehydrated food is stored in a box, and water is added to create a puree type consistency. This can be used as your dog’s main diet, or simply an added snack for more nutrients. My dogs love it!
Dogs, who are allergic to meat proteins, will be lacking a crucial part of their nutrition needs, that can’t always be supplemented with vegetables. This will result in weight loss, anemia, and other health complications. Fortunately, there is a way to gain weight without meat!
Other than substituting meat with as many nutrients from vegetables as possible, adding a high fat substance, like Greek yogurt, will help your dog keep weight on his body. Feeding high fat treats, like all-natural peanut butter, will also help your dog maintain his weight.
Exercise is important, as well as feeding him small meals, often. Do practise caution when allowing your dog to be active after eating. Wait a minimum of half an hour before exercising your dog after he has eaten anything to prevent bloat.
Whatever solution you choose to use to feed your dog a meat-free diet, be sure to consult with your veterinarian often about your dog’s health. A healthy dog is a happy dog!
Are There Cruelty Free Dog Food Options?
If you want to feed cruelty free, but your dog requires a meat protein based diet, there are options for you!
Companies like Open Farm practise cruelty free farming and manufacturing, ensuring that each animal is treated with respect and is provided with proper health care. They do not condone the use of steroids or hormones, and use the highest quality organic products available. They are the only cruelty free pet food option on the market, and they are based out of Ontario, Canada.
You can learn more about their ethically raised and sourced food on their website!
Though there are dogs who will benefit from a vegetable based diet, this does not mean all dogs will. You must consult with your veterinarian or naturopath before attempting a meat-free diet, as this can cause serious health complications for some dogs.