Some Veterinarians Support All-Vegan Diet for Los Angeles Shelter Dogs

In what may sound to some like a nutty, “only in L.A.” idea, a commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services has proposed that dogs in the city’s shelters be fed an all-vegan diet.

Although the city’s chief veterinarian, Jeremy Prupas, opposes feeding the dogs only plant-based foods, the diet proposal is supported by a group of 10 practicing veterinarians.

In a Care2 petition that has over 61,000 supporters, the group points out these benefits of a vegan diet for dogs:

  • Dog food that contains meat meal may contribute to canine cancer rates, since these foods may contain high levels of heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals.
  • Well-balanced, plant-based diets can help dogs that suffer from allergic dermatitis, a common skin ailment.
  • Dogs are omnivores, and there’s no scientific evidence that they require meat to be healthy.
  • Switching shelter dogs to a vegan diet could save the lives of 33,000 chickens, fish, lambs and other farmed animals every year.

The all-vegan diet was proposed last year by L.A. Board of Animal Services Commissioner Roger Wolfson, an attorney and screenwriter. “We have to embrace the fact that the raising and killing of animals for food purposes must only be done if we have absolutely no other choice,” he said at a November board meeting. “This is about the long-term survival of every man, woman and child in this room, and all of the people in our lives.”

The 10 veterinarians who started the Care2 petition supporting Wolfson’s proposal are Sherstin Rosenberg, Armaiti May, Lisa Melling, Marybeth Minter, Michael Roth, Andrew Knight, Richard Pitcairn, Erika Sullivan, Margo Roman and Randall Cannon.

But the L.A. city veterinarian doesn’t support the plant-based diet proposal because while individual, privately owned dogs can do well on a such a diet, “that is quite a different population than the group of dogs we encounter daily in our animal shelters,” Prupas wrote in a report to the Board of Animal Services. The six Los Angeles city shelters take in about 33,000 dogs every year.

According to Prupus, unidentified clinical nutritionists from the veterinary schools at UC Davis and the University of Pennsylvania, along with a veterinary toxicologist and a shelter medicine specialist, agreed with him that a vegan diet for shelter dogs was not a good idea for these reasons:

  • The diet could contain inadequate levels of protein, calcium and phosphorus.
  • The cost of plant-based food would be much higher than meat-based food.
  • Vegan dogs allegedly poop more than dogs that eat meat, which would mean more work for animal shelter employees.

Pet food safety advocate Susan Thixton is also opposed to the vegan diet proposal. On the Truth about Pet Food website, she argued that feed-grade vegan dog food products can contain metals, just like dog food with meat, since the FDA allows feed-grade pet foods to contain waste ingredients from many sources. The risk of contamination “is NOT limited solely to meat ingredient dog foods,” she wrote.

As for helping to spare the lives of 33,000 farmed animals, Thixton pointed out that the feed-grade pet foods given to shelter animals usually contain the by-products of animals that have already been slaughtered for human consumption, not animals killed only for the purpose of feeding their meat to dogs.

Last year, L.A. kept its promise to become the largest no-kill city in the country – for shelter dogs, at least. Could it make history again by feeding these dogs a vegan diet? We’ll find out next month, when the Board of Animal Services is expected to make its decision.

Photo credit: Rarnie McCudden

61 comments

Isa J
Isa JOSSERAND HURE3 months ago

tyfs

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JT Smith
Past Member 3 months ago

Humans are OMNIVORES by evolutionary design. Canids (i.e., dogs, wolves et al) are CARNIVORES!

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Ruth S
Ruth S3 months ago

That's crazy, dogs are carnivores!

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R3 months ago

Of course, these vets are probably vegan themselves...imposing their ethics over the ethics of not interfering with the nutritional needs of our omnivorous companion animals!

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no M
no M3 months ago

Evolution has designed humans to be vegetarians, but dogs--descended from wolves--are carnivores. Please stop this propaganda.

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Angela J
Angela J3 months ago

Thanks

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Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

i don't believe this is right. Dogs are carnivores.

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Winn A
Winn A3 months ago

Thanks

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Rita Odessa
Rita Odessa3 months ago

Why not it's been shown what is in meat never mind what ends up in dog food, perhaps a raw diet, but beans are proteins and dogs can eat a variety of things. I like this idea.

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Sherry K
Sherry Kohn3 months ago

Noted

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