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Vegan Dog Food

Vegan dog food is becoming increasingly popular in the pet world. This should come as no surprise, given the popularity of this diet among humans. However, because dogs are descendants of wolves, notorious meat eaters, is it really healthy to restrict this crucial part of a dog's natural diet?

Background of Vegan Dog Food

Scientifically, dogs are classified as carnivores, or meat eaters. However, metabolically speaking, a dog is an omnivore, meaning its body can digest and metabolize both meats and plants. However, it should be noted that a dog's intestinal tract is not as long as a human's, which is why some argue that dogs aren't able to handle foods that take a long time to digest, like plant matter, as well as humans can.

Perhaps the crux of the debate as to whether or not vegan dog food is healthy or harmful to our furry friends is the issue of taurine, an amino acid that's naturally found in meat. L-carnitine is another amino acid in meats that a canine will need to thrive, so looking for these ingredients on labels is essential when feeding a dog a vegan diet.

Best Brands Of Vegan Dog Food

Three of the top selling vegan/vegetarian brands of dog food based on ingredients, price and customer reviews are:

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Vegetarian Formula

  • Contains: Oatmeal, rice, brown rice, potato protein, and natural flavors.
  • This meat-free food by Royal Canin is formulated for adult dogs who are allergic or sensitive to meat products and instead contains sources of vegetable proteins.
  • It is also meant for dogs who have urinary tract disease and it is only available with proof of prescription from a licensed veterinarian.
  • Price: Around $24 for a 8.8 lb. bag and around $41 for a 16.5 lb. bag.
Nature's Recipe Vegetarian Canine Formula

  • Contains: Ground rice, soybean meal, cracked pearled barley, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), and calcium carbonate.
  • This dog food from Nature's Recipe is designed for canines with meat sensitivities and contains 10 amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids to compensate for the lack of animal proteins.
  • This choice receives rave reviews from dog owners who have used the product and report their pets are shedding less and have shinier coats. Others mention a reduction in redness, itching, and similar skin and coat problems.
  • The only noted cons of this particular food are its higher than average price and the fact that the taste may take some dogs a bit of getting used to because of the lack of meats, or in the case of most commercial dog foods, meat byproducts.
  • Price: Around $10 for a 5 lb. bag and around $24 for a 20 lb. bag.
AvoDerm Natural Vegetarian Dog Food

  • Contains: Ground whole rice, soy flour, ground pearled barley, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), and avocado meal.
  • With no byproducts or preservatives and additives, AvoDerm's vegetarian food for dogs is meant for adult dogs with sensitivities to meat products.
  • According to customer reviews, dogs who were fed this vegetarian food experienced less gas, less scratching, and better smelling breath as well as improved coats.
  • The downside to this brand of food is its lack of availability in pet stores as well as a higher than average price.
  • Price: Around $10 for a 4.4 lb. bag and around $24 for a 17.5 lb. bag.

Final Comments

A natural vegan diet might consist of foods such as potatoes, carrots, soybeans, lentils, and whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal. With wholesome ingredients like these along with the essential amino acids and proteins and direction or recommendations from your dog's veterinarian, your dog should be able to live a happy, healthy life without the benefit of meats. However, as you can see, feeding your pet this kind of diet will require more responsibility and supervision on your part to ensure that your dog is getting optimal nutrition.

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