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Pros and Cons of Vegetarian vs Meat-Based Diets for Dogs


9 min Read

May 04, 2022 | Nutrition

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Vegetarian Dog Treats

As concerns about the health, animal welfare, and environmental effects of animal production grow, many pet owners are interested in vegetarian food for dogs. Can a dog be vegetarian? We looked into a survey that not just gathered information from dog food companies but also looked into the nutritional status of dogs who were given meat-based diets and dogs who were given vegetarian diets. An increasing body of evidence suggests that cats and dogs on vegetarian diets are healthy, even when they exercise at high levels, and may even experience a variety of health benefits. However, veggie food for dogs must be nutritionally full and reasonably balanced. Owners should assess urinary acidity on a regular basis and, if necessary, rectify urinary alkalinization with dietary additives.

Genetic Analysis

In 2013, a group of researchers evaluated by comparing the dog's genetic information (all the genes in the DNA) to that of the wolf and discovered that the differences between the two were mostly due to genes responsible for behaviour traits (i.e., how they went from wolf temperament to golden retriever temperament) and starch digestion. Dogs have evolved to be better at digesting starches (carbohydrates) than wolves, which is one of the fundamental genetic differences between the two species. This is why they are able to digest and thrive on vegetarian food for dogs.

Omnivore vs. Carnivore

In terms of the carnivore vs. omnivore debate, dogs are classified as carnivores, but the Order Carnivora also includes omnivores like bears, raccoons, and skunks, as well as strict herbivores like the giant panda. Dogs, unlike real carnivores like cats and ferrets, lack most of the metabolic adaptations to a rigorous diet of animal flesh. Dogs manufacture more starch-digesting enzymes than real carnivores, have lower protein and amino acid requirements, and can easily use vitamin A and D from plant sources, just like humans. According to the evidence, they may have evolved from wolves by eating more veggie food for dogs. They are better classified as omnivores than carnivores because of all of these traits.

How Switching to a Vegan Diet Would Affect the Pancreas 

Dog Sitting on the lap

The pancreas produces digestive enzymes that dogs require to digest their food, among other things. The pancreases of most dogs are excellent at this task, and dogs are excellent at breaking down starch from vegetarian food for puppies. Most plants that are often found in human diets have a high digestibility in dogs, which is similar to what it is in people. There is no indication that consuming a high-carbohydrate diet harms the pancreas.

The second claim is that a carnivore's pancreas does not secrete the enzyme cellulase to break down cellulose (a type of fibre found in plant cell walls), which is incorrect for two reasons:

  • Dogs are more omnivores than carnivores

  • No mammal, carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore, makes the enzyme cellulase.

This is why cellulose-rich plants like hay are indigestible to humans and dogs. Fruits, vegetables, and grains do not contain enough cellulose to cause digestive problems in dogs. They need to follow a healthy diet for dogs.

Animals that consume leaves and hay, such as horses, goats, cows, and the giant panda, have bacteria and other microscopic critters in their intestines that have the enzyme, and these little "friends" are the ones who break down the cellulose in the animal's diet, releasing nutrients.

To put the preceding information into context, humans and chimps share approximately 96–99 percent of their DNA (the entire genome, not just mitochondrial DNA). Yes, dogs are descended from wolves, but it doesn't mean they have the same dietary requirements as wolves.

How does a vegan diet for dogs work? 

Most dogs can thrive on a vegetarian food that covers all of their nutritional requirements. Veterinary nutritionists frequently use meat-free diets to assist in managing a variety of health issues. It's not easy to come up with these diet plans. While there are a variety of commercial vegan and vegetarian meals available for dogs, not all of them are of equal quality. In general, diets that contain eggs or dairy as a source of protein are less concerning than diets that rely solely on plant proteins. Home-prepared meals invariably perform worse since the great majority of home-cooked meat-based diets fed to dogs lack key nutrients, and vegetarian food for dogs typically has all of the same inadequacies, plus a few more.

According to Andrew Knight, a veterinary professor at the University of Winchester, his research found that cats and dogs on plant-based diets had the same, if not better, health results as those on meat-based pet meals, providing the latter were carefully designed with added synthetic nutrients.

Knight's conclusions come following warnings that failing to offer an "appropriate diet" matching a dog's nutritional demands may result in a £20,000 fine or a 51-week jail sentence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

For humans and dogs, being a lacto-ovo vegetarian poses few dietary concerns. In fact, of all the protein sources usually utilised in pet feeds, eggs offer the highest biological value. The biological value of a protein is determined by its ability to provide the specific amino acids required by an animal. Vegetarian diet for dogs, or eating a diet that excludes all animal products, is also conceivable for dogs, albeit it is more difficult. The required amino acids can still be obtained by combining a variety of plant-based protein sources (e.g., beans, corn, soy, and whole grains).

So why should this concern non-vegetarians? Because it clarifies the sometimes contradictory information about canine diets. Consider this: if dogs can live long and healthy lives on a diet consisting entirely of vegetarian food for dogs, why shouldn't these elements be used in meat-based dishes as well? It makes great sense to use both animal and plant-based protein sources in a non-vegetarian dog diet.

Benefits of Vegetarian Diet for Dogs 

Allergy: As per scientists at Tufts University's Cummings Vet Medical Clinic, "chicken, beef, dairy, and eggs are the most commonly reported food allergies in dogs." Many dog owners are surprised to learn that grains are a rare cause of food allergies in pets; most are allergic to animal proteins. Rashes, dry and itchy skin, loose stool, constipation, gas, vomiting, eye discharge, yeast infections, and fur loss are all indications of food allergies in dogs. Long-term exposure to allergens is harmful to one's health since it weakens the immune system. Vegetarian food for puppies is inherently hypoallergenic, so your dog can finally get some respite from his or her annoying symptoms.

Easily Digestible: Vegetarian food for dogs is frequently used to aid dogs with a variety of digestive disorders, including loose stools, constipation, and gas. Meat-based dog foods, on the other hand, can be difficult for the digestive system due to the acidifying and inflammatory properties of animal protein. Plant-based components are gentle on digestion and frequently free of irritating allergens, so they can help even the most sensitive dogs get rid of symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory: Vegetarian food for dogs is naturally anti-inflammatory, which means it can help reduce joint pain and arthritis when compared to animal-based diets (making them an excellent fit for senior dogs). When dogs eat a vegan diet, their mobility improves, resulting in stronger muscles, longer walks, and more stamina at the dog park.

Improves Energy Levels: Because of the clean, readily available nourishment, switching your dog to a vegan diet can help them regain puppy-like vigour (without the negative effects of meat-based and byproduct-heavy food). Vegetarian food for puppies generally results in an abundance of energy as a result of their new diets, contributing to a higher quality of life.

Helps Manage Weight: Vegetarian dog food has a plethora of health benefits, making it an excellent choice for dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages.It's time to try a nutritionally complete vegan diet if your dog has persistent symptoms like itchy skin, digestive difficulties, joint pain, or eye discharge. When you switch your dog to a plant-based diet, you may expect five wonderful health benefits.

How to start?

Start off by giving your dog some treats. To find out if your dogs are interested in vegetarian food, here are a few treat options that will definitely satisfy their taste buds.

Dogsee Chew- Soft Training Treats

Bite-Sized Dog Training Treats

Do you have concerns about your dog's oral health? So, we've chosen the best dog treat that can assist! These little dog chews are made from the best Himalayan cheese and are smoke-dried for over 35 days for added flavour and texture. These snacks keep plaque and tartar at bay while also freshening your dog's breath. They are composed of crude protein (minimum 59.2%), crude fat (minimum 5.2%), moisture (maximum 10%), and fibre (minimum 5.9%).These snacks are ideal for your tiny dogs or puppies!

Dogsee Crunch Apple: Freeze-Dried Apple Dog Treats

Freeze-Dried Apple Dog Treats

These apple treats are good for you and will keep the vet away! Dogsee Apples, of course, are the only ingredient in these crunchy, freeze-dried apple delights. Apple slices that have been freeze-dried help to retain nutrients such as vitamin A and C, which contribute to your dog's lustrous hair and healthy skin. These crunchy delights are made up of protein (2.1%), dietary fibre (12.7%), fat (3.7%), moisture (3.6%), and ash (0.01%). Dogs of all ages and sizes will enjoy these goodies.

Mini Pops: Dog Training Treats in Bite-Sized Sizes

Mini bite-sized Dog Training Treats

Treats that your dog enjoys are necessary for a successful training session. Natural ingredients are used in Dogsee Chews' Mini Bite-Sized Dog Training Treats. These nutritious dog treats are just the right size to promote digestion. These treats are sourced from the Himalayas, smoked and sun-dried to perfection, and have the greatest crunch and flavour, making your dog want more!

They're packed with protein and low in fat, so they'll give your dog a boost of energy while also helping him stay in shape. Crude protein is used to make these puppy training treats (min 59.2 percent). Crude fatty acid (min. 5.2%) moisture (minimum 5.9%) fibre (maximum of 10%). These mini-bites are suitable for all breeds of dogs.

Large Bars: Long-Lasting Dental Chews For Large Dogs

Long-Lasting Dental Chews For Large Dogs

Do you have a dog with a personality that is bigger than life? We've discovered a dessert that tastes just like him! These snacks are ideal for letting your big dogs chew his way to better dental health. These treats are made from exquisite Himalayan cheese that has been smoked and sundried to get the appropriate amount of hardness. They are sure to keep your dog occupied and happy. They aid in the reduction of plaque and tartar formation. They contain crude protein (minimum 59.2%), crude fat (minimum 5.2%), moisture (maximum 10%), and fibre (maximum 5.9%). These sticks will make your dog's breath smell better than it has in the past! These are the ideal dog treats for large dogs due to their size.

Also read: "Dog Nutrition: 7 Best Protein Sources for Dogs".


Is your dog ready to convert to a healthier, cleaner diet? Thousands of dogs have benefited from the health benefits of Dogsee Chews’ 100 percent plant-based products, obtaining A+ vet checks. Our treats are nutritionally full and balanced, as well as devoid of by-products, fillers, and common allergies. Dogsee Chew to learn more about what we do, or look through the materials below!

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