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How to Get Your Dog to Go Vegan

Spoiler Alert: There are major health benefits!

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When you choose to go vegan, you are making a statement, not just about your diet but also, possibly, about your belief system. Perhaps you have chosen to go vegan because you do not like the impact that raising meat has on the planet or perhaps you don’t like the effect that eating meat has on your body, or simply don’t want to eat animals. Whatever the reason, many people who choose to be vegan would like their families to eat vegan as well, including their furry family members.

Oftentimes, we are told that a dog cannot eat vegan food because dogs are carnivores by nature and always will be. But believe it or not, dogs can eat vegan food and it is a common misconception that they can’t. Dogs are actually omnivores. After all, have you ever seen a dog eat grass? Additionally, lots of dogs enjoy veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples.

Dogs do need protein, but they do not need to get that protein from meat. Just like people, dogs can get protein from beans and legumes like pinto beans or peas and there is some research that suggests dogs may be more adaptable to a plant based diet than previously thought.

Because the meat used for dog food is often discarded scraps or comes from other less than optimal sources, it might be healthier overall for your dog to go vegan too. Dogs that eat a vegan diet suffer less from the stresses of obesity and often have fewer allergies. Some argument that a dog that isn’t exposed to the meat products in dog food could live longer because dog food meat often has antibiotics or other toxins that were injected into the original animal.

Getting a dog to eat vegan dog food is a whole other issue than whether or not the food is good for him. Dogs are usually very accustomed to the flavor of meats in their diet, so you will have to make the transition to vegan dog food slowly. If you are going from dry food to dry food, it should be fairly easy to start incorporating the vegan version into his bowl with the regular food.

Before you go full throttle into vegan foods for your dog, be sure to watch for potential allergens. Many dogs are allergic to soy, for example, and some are allergic to gluten. It’s important to watch for allergic reactions and make sure you are incorporating foods into his diet that he can tolerate. Lentils, oats, sweet potatoes, pinto beans and rice are all generally considered to be good plant based foods for dogs. Make sure beans are washed and cooked thoroughly before feeding.

Adding olive oil or coconut oil to your dogs diet can help them get the fat they need and will keep their coat shiny as well. Oil will also make a dry vegan dog food a little more palatable as you’re making the transition. L-carnitine and taurine are amino acids that are essential for a dogs cardio health. It is important that dogs get these amino acids, which they usually get from meat products. If you are making up your dog’s food on your own, you can get supplements of these amino acids to add to the food.

Getting your dog to go vegan likely won’t be as hard as you think. It might take some trial and error to see what he likes and maybe a little peanut butter to get him to try different foods, but if you are committed to the process, it shouldn’t take too long. Remember to log what you are feeding so you can recognize food allergies and consult your veterinarian if you have any health concerns.

Interested? Check out this definitive guide to vegan dog food!

About Chelsea Rivera

Chelsea Rivera founded  SimpleWag with one goal in mind: to help pet owners ensure their pets live the healthiest lives possible! SimpleWag offers its audience access to loads of great content, including expert information provided by staffed vets, trainers, and behavioral specialists. We do the research so you don’t have to! In addition to working for SimpleWag, Chelsea spends her days getting bossed around by her 5 lb. Maltipoo, Baby Rose, in Los Angeles. Follow SimpleWag on Instagram @simplewag.