The global rise of veganism has reached the pet food industry and there is growing demand for vegan dog food. What vegan and plant-based dog food is on the market and is it healthier for our furry friends than animal-based food?
They may have canine teeth and enjoy chewing on a bone or two, but dogs are actually omnivores. This is a result of thousands of years of evolution alongside their human counterparts where they’ve been fed scraps and leftovers. They have molars capable of grinding fibrous plants and, as is consistent with omnivores, and their small intestine makes up for 23% of their total gastrointestinal volume.
Don’t dogs need to eat meat?
As scavengers and therefore opportunistic feeders, they can sustain themselves with a wide range of foods, whether derived from plants or animals. This adaptability lends itself to a vegan diet. What’s more, some dogs are allergic to animal proteins, or have other issues with consuming and digesting them. So, no, dogs certainly don’t need to eat meat in all cases.
What does the science say about vegan diets for dogs?
- Improved vitality
- Reduced obesity
- Fewer mites, ticks, and fleas
- Improved coat and skin
- Fewer food allergies
In addition, it’s important to note that for dogs in India have largely been vegetarian for thousands of years without any evidence of systemic illness. However, today’s dogs, especially those in the Western world, are tending to mimic their owners with increased obesity, food allergies and diabetes.
There is increasing evidence that developing plant-based products and diets reduce inflammation and the accumulation of toxins in the body and there is much to suggest that these ills can be prevented with a vegan diet.
The environmental pawprint of meat-based pet food
While ‘pawprint’ is a cute term to cover the environmental impact of keeping a pet, the reality is that the impact is anything but cute. The resources and energy required to produce meat for pet dogs and cats introduces 64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Many pet foods contain the same hormones, pesticides and antibiotics found in commercial meat products for humans with the added ground-up animal parts generally deemed unfit for human consumption. Understandably, pet owners are increasingly demanding human-grade meat for their pets, but the downside is this can increase the negative impact on the environment.
Some of the leading vegan dog food brands
Vegan dog food brands are emerging, developing well-balanced, high quality nutrition. Here are some of the main contenders:
- Benevo – Hampshire-based company approved by the Vegan Society of UK, PETA, and the Vegetarian Society UK offering a nutritionally complete range of food, treats and more
- Wild Earth offers yeast-based, vegan dry kibble-style dog food with over a third protein content and no preservatives, animal ingredients or hormones
- Green Pet Food – a German company offering a range of vegan and even insect food for dogs
- v-dog offer heart-healthy dog food options containing high-protein like quinoa, brown rice, peas, flaxseeds, millet and oats
- Ami Pet Food – an Italian company with a wide range of 100% vegetable based products for those who prefer a vegetable- and grain-based diet
- After two years of R&D, US brand Petalumas offers a “more considerate” dog food choice.
While each different breed of dog can have widely differing nutritional requirements, the evidence shows that plant-based alternatives offer a healthier, more environmentally-friendly choice. Many petlovers are looking to offer their pets better quality and ‘human grade’ food too.