Dogs can be healthy vegans, here's why to do it!
Rescue, love, and veganism
This September my pups celebrate their sixth vegan anniversary. My dogs are kinda like the vegan bodybuilders of dogs. They defy the notion that vegans are weak and fragile. They dispel the myth that one can only thrive on animal meat.
Gambit and Cordelia are two pit bull mixes that I rescued over 8 years ago. Less than a year after I made my own plunge into veganism, I started to question what I was feeding my dog. I know this is a natural progression for many.
Within the biological classification of animals, dogs (along with pandas, weasels, and raccoons) fall under the Order Carnivora – a diverse group of over 280 mammalian species. While they can all consume meat including insects, most are omnivores. A small minority of the species (i.e. cats) are “obligate carnivores.” Nature obliges or insists they eat primarily animal meat.
Dogs are omnivores…as are humans. Defensive attitudes about humans and dogs eating solely plants are that eating meat is Natural, Normal, and Necessary. From an evolutionary and ecological perspective as my education has brought me, here are my rebuttals:
Natural – Domestication is unnatural. Most things around us are “unnatural” – not occurring in nature. There is nothing “natural” about dogs eating dry, commercially made kibble every day.
Normal – Life and nature are about exceptions not normalcy.
Necessary – Many individuals – one to four footed – are regularly disproving this myth.
What does a vegan dog eat anyway?
Plants, of course! More specifically though, they eat foods made from grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Luckily, we have commercial options available. For many, V-Dog comes to mind. PetGuard is another option, and now Ellen DeGeneres has a pet food company that offers a vegan dog food (what a world).
Personally, Gambit and Cordelia have always eaten Natural Balance vegetarian formula (actually vegan), which is made from brown rice, oatmeal, pearled barley, peas, and potatoes (YUM!). Natural Balance is also available through the major U.S. pet stores PetSmart, Petco, and Pet supplies plus.
I have never been one to buy tons of dog treats, but they still receive delightful rewards. My dogs will stand at attention if they just hear the word “carrot.” They love carrots, apples, and kale stems, and they are not alone. You would be surprised at what many dogs enjoy.
Personal Vegan Dog Food Tip
Previously I would buy the Natural Balance vegan wet food because dry food alone has got to be boring every single day. In an effort to save money, I discovered that making my own wet food was cheaper and healthier! A bag of potatoes ($3), a pound of dry beans ($2), and a can of pumpkin ($3). With relative ease utilizing my pressure cooker, I prepare and blend all of these items together. I like to add sweet potato at times too. My dogs LOVE the mash, and I am able to supplement their daily dry food with hearty servings of it.
What about their health?
My disclaimer is that I am not a veterinarian. None of this is doggie medical advice, which should be given by veterinarians. I can only share my experience and thoughts.
My pups have had the gamut of pit bull-related health issues. Especially for Gambit they had a long journey from youth to adulthood. When they were a few years old, we switched to the vegan food. Approaching a decade old, they are in great heath inside and out. Their muscular and healthy physique has not just survived but thrived on plant foods.
Recently, Gambit did hit the metabolism wall and gained weight after years of a plateau. Decreasing the dry formula and adding more of my homemade mash has helped him trim down without having to starve him – a common problem I saw working as a vet assistant.
Lastly, I don’t trust nonvegan dog food. Among those people who are awake, we know that animal farms are disgusting, putrid places that inflict horrible cruelty. While we as a country allow people to consume actual shit-covered and disease-ridden meat, I cannot believe animal meat used in dog food is somehow equivalent let alone better. It’s actually worse than you think…
“Up to 50 % of commercial pet food brands are comprised of “meat meal” and “byproducts,” which include various body parts (such as beaks, brain, spinal cord tissue, bones, lungs, intestinal tracts) slaughterhouse wastes, 4-D meat (from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals), supermarket rejects, as well as rendered dogs and cats from animal shelters.” – Dr. Armaiti May DVM – Vegan Vet
Image source: http://lielamariephotography.com/