Dogs Can be Vegetarian?

Verona Rebow is a dog lover, and vegetarian who has written a book about dogs living on vegetarian diets. Many people may simply assume dogs are strictly meat eaters, because of various notions floating around in our culture, but she says that is not entirely true. Below is an interview
with her on feeding dogs vegetarian food. (If you believe dogs eating vegetarian food is absurd, consider the fact black bears are mainly vegetarian, though they are perceived by many as being dangerous carnivores.)

What are the best non-animal protein sources for dogs?

Cooked tofu, beans, and lentils. A dog will eat raw tofu right out of the container.

How much protein does the average dog need daily?

We have a book with recipes and they are balanced with the protein requirement. We followed some guidelines like the weight and age of the dog. Older dogs require less. They require more protein than people.

What are the biggest misconceptions about dogs having to eat meat constantly?

That people think dogs are carnivores, but they are omnivores. They actually can eat plants as well as meat.

Is vegetarianism healthier for dogs?

Yes, it can change the dopamine levels which is linked to the fight and flight reaction.

Do vegetarian dogs live longer?

There might be some studies, but I don’t know. All my dogs lived thirteen years and longer. The oldest lived to 17, it was a lab. It can reduce strokes, cancer and heart disease. The diet must be balanced.

As with people in modern, affluent societies more dogs are becoming overweight, can a vegetarian diet help keep dogs at their normal weight?

Yes, definitely. Even with vegetarian food it must be portioned carefully so they don’t overeat, and they must exercise regularly.

Could a vegetarian diet help a dog diagnosed with heart disease?

Yes. Reduce greatly risk of heart disease such as heart attacks and stroke. I have a Golden Retriever, and some of them are prone to enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy) and a doctor said there is nothing you can do. I started him on carnitine and taurine and that strengthened the heart. We suggest highly to supplement with those.

What are the most important nutrients for dogs, and what vegetarian foods have them?

We recommend b-12, taurine and carnitine supplements.

Can puppies also be fed vegetarian food and still be healthy?

Yes. I did a lot of rescue work, including for dogs with malnutrition and they experienced a rejuvenation of their health.

Can older dogs also be vegetarian?

Yes. All our dogs have been vegetarian.

What vegetarian foods have you seen dogs seem to like more than others?

Just to make the food enticing. It varies by dog. My Great Dane will eat anything, including apples and cucumbers. Pineapple, squash, kale. Some like bananas, mashed into oatmeal. Another dog of mine would eat a whole head of lettuce, but grated. Carrots also. Any fruits and vegetables.

Many chew toys for dogs are made of animal parts like pig ears and cow bones. Are there vegetarian chew toys, and are they as beneficial?

There are nylon bones, but some dogs don’t like them. You can buy baked sweet potatoes for chew toys, but they can be expensive.

Example: Sam’s Yams

You can make them yourself also. Here is one recipe for a sweet potato chew toy.

You could try Himalayan chew sticks from yak milk, which is not vegetarian but no animals die from making it.

Image Credit: Edward from Boston


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Geoff P.
Past Member 4 years ago

Vegans what more need be said

Georgeta Trandafir

thanks for the article

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Dale O., anyone who says bears are vegetarians is very much uneducated and misinformed! I live in the midst of Black Bear country and they will eat anything and everything. Grizzly Bears feed on salmon for the good part of the late summer and early fall in order to put on fat for survival during hibernation. I've seen documentaries of grizzlies taking down bison in bison! The only bear that is a herbivore is the Giant Panda.

Angela H.
Angela Hunter4 years ago

Thank you ladies!! If you held out your hand with a chunk of meat or a piece of vegetable protein, I know which my dog would take and it wouldn't have started as a green product. He does like grass, bones, potatoes if he gets to the floor fast enough before I could stop him but in his heart, he's a meat eater TOO. Dogs need meat/fish to live well!

Sue H.
sue H4 years ago

All I have to say is this is very interesting. But, if our domestic dogs come from the wolves, don't wolves eat meat?

Barbara D.
Past Member 4 years ago

Sure, they CAN be, but not necessarily by choice. I wonder what would happen if you could ask a dog about HIS preference??

Angela H.
Angela Hunter4 years ago

I don't believe that dogs should be forced to cope on a veggie diet, solely due to beliefs of the owner. If you don't want to feed a snake dead mice - don't get a snake, if you aren't willing to handle crickets/insects - don't get a lizard, don't want to handle meat products don't get a cat and if you can't handle an omnivore, whose food should contain both meat and veg, then don't get a dog.

Your animal is not there to be tailored to your food habits. Most women like chocolate, but we wouldn't do that for our pet. 99% of vets would not suggest a veggie only diet for a dog. Dogs SUPPLEMENT a meat diet with grasses, roots, worms and insects in the wild

Barbara D.
Past Member 4 years ago

Sam R., you are sadly misguided. Why do people believe *articles* and not veterinarians and people with veterinary experience? WE see the end results of your pets' inadequate diets. And I've seen deaths due to veggie diets in cats.

Dale O.

Sorry, meant to say that dogs are omnivores, they are not strictly carnivorous.

Dale O.

The article states: "...consider the fact black bears are mainly vegetarian, though they are perceived by many as being dangerous carnivores." Bears are not considered vegetarian as they are omnivores. Polar bears for the most part are carnivores.

Rodney P you are so right, the idea of imposing/projecting human values onto a pet's natural diet is cruel and terribly abusive. For those vegans/vegetarians so caught up in the lifestyle that you cannot feed your pet a species specific diet...get a rabbit, hamster or other animal that doesn't eat meat as part of its natural diet. I had a cat that loved to eat cantaloupe and would eat through the rind but that doesn't mean he should have been fed a fruit only diet. Cats are obligate carnivores meaning they must have meat while dogs are carnivores and they require meat for health. Sugar coating a pet's natural diets for human beliefs is unfair to the pet involved. Samantha R's belief is down right frightening. Get a bunny!