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Cooking for Our Vegetarian Dogs

Posted by at 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (34)


veggiedogsThere’s so much interest in the green movement, and people everywhere are trying to be careful and conscientious about their food choices. But what about our dogs?

Dogs, like people, are omnivores. They can live happy and healthy lives on a vegetarian diet, and believe me, it is a whole lot easier to convert dogs than people. Dogs are not stuck on tradition, and they adapt quite well to eating lower on the food chain.

My parents’ dogs, Patty and Woofie (pictured here), have been vegetarians ever since we rescued them more than 10 years ago. My dog, Zoey, was a 12-year-old skinny swayback when I rescued her five years ago, and she has been eating my vegetarian cooking and doing great ever since. I must admit, however, that our dogs cheat now and then. They occasionally charm their way into getting treats from new friends at the dog park or on dog walks, and they do, from time to time, scarf down dead fish they find on the beach.

Some dogs are super-easy. Vegetarian dog food is available at most local pet stores and can be specially ordered in bulk from local health-food stores. If you can’t locate it where you live, you can also buy it online through the PETA Catalog. You can buy canned wet vegetarian dog food to mix in with the dry. Better yet, you can make your own dog food and dog biscuits for a fraction of the cost.

Here are two recipes for you from my mother and me! Let us know what your dogs think.

Kerry’s Vegetarian Dog Food-Slow-Cooker Method
2 cups dry split peas
1 cup dried lentils
1 cup barley
1 cut up carrot
1 cut up potato
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup oatmeal
12 1/2 cups water

Put all the ingredients in a big slow cooker and let cook for anywhere from 5 to 8 hours.

That’s all there is to it. It will keep for up to a week in a plastic container in the refrigerator, and if you are cooking for one, you can freeze the extra. At feeding time (breakfast and dinner), I mix this half and half with store-bought vegetarian dry food.

The recipe is really just the starting point. I buy 20-pound bags of locally grown lentils, split peas, and barley from our local bean and pea company to use as the basic ingredients, but I often add green beans, acorn squash, leftover whole-wheat bread, sweet corn, soy milk, textured vegetable protein (TVP), apples, and leftovers from our vegetarian meals. It all depends on what is on sale, in the refrigerator, or ripe in the garden. (I avoid onions and grapes because they can harm some dogs.)

Chris’ Vegan Dog Biscuits
5 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup powdered soy milk (or soy flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup peanut butter (ground peanuts)
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 cup textured vegetabe protein (TVP)
3 heaping T VEGEDOG supplements (available from Harbingers of a New Age)
2 1/2 cups cold water

Preheat the oven to 380°F. Combine solids. Cut in margarine and peanut butter thoroughly with a multiple-blade pastry cutter. Add water, then roll up your sleeves and mix with a table knife until you have a uniform mixture that is not sticky. Roll out 1/3 portions of flour or corn meal to about 1/4 inch or less, then cut in long strips and bake on ungreased cookie sheets until medium-brown. The biscuits should be tough and crunchy when cool. Break into appropriately sized chunks and store in an airproof container.

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    KT says...

    September 21st, 2008, 11:10 am

    These recipes are great. I recently read, however, that if you want to raise vegetarian dogs you should you should consider adding Vegedog from Harbingers of a New Age to everything, not just the treats. Also you need to be careful to have enough L-carnitine and taurine in their food important minerals for dogs found in meat. You should also add DHA capsules/oil for their omega-3 fatty acids, since some dogs can’t digest flaxseed oil and they won’t get enough of it from any other plantfoods. I also read that you should pay close attention to your dog’s reactions if you are using soy products― since soy is a common allergen for dogs.

    Steve says...

    September 21st, 2008, 1:37 pm

    Thanks for the recipes! I recently ran out of the vegan food I normally feed to my dogs, so I went to the local stores to buy some emergency rations. After looking at the ingredients of everything on the shelves, I could not bring myself to buy any of their dog food. I am sure that my dogs would agree about our choice to be vegan if they knew about the suffering involved in the animal ingredients that are so ubiquitous in commercial dog food. My seat-of-the pants meals, until more dry vegan dog food arrived in the mail, met with mixed results: one dog’s reaction did not require the close attention suggested by KT – there was nothing subtle about her throwing up all over the place. Our diets are back to normal now, and everyone is happy. But I will definitely be trying Kerry’s recipe (I have my own excellent recipe for peanut butter biscuits.) Thanks also to KT for the nutritional info.

    Dawn says...

    September 21st, 2008, 5:04 pm

    CUTE CUTE DOGGIES!!!
    I’VE BEEN A VEGGIE FOR YEARS…IT JUST NEVER CONSIDERED TRYING IT ON MY DOGS. DIDNT KNOW IT WAS POSSIBLE. AFTER READING KERRYS BLOG AND DOING SOME RESEARCH ABOUT VEGGIE DOGS AND OMNIVORES I AM A BELIEVER. I AM GOING TO START EASING MY DOG INTO A VEGGIE DIET. THANK YOU FOR THE IDEA AND THE RECIPES.

    Laura says...

    September 22nd, 2008, 1:10 pm

    Both my dogs turned vegan when I brought them home from the shelter. They insisted, heh-heh. They are 10 and 12 years old now, and thriving on their vegan diet. I love the idea of using a slow cooker! I am going to pull mine out and start cooking for them!

    Sweetsie boy LOL says...

    September 25th, 2008, 4:15 pm

    I love this post about homemade vegetarian dog food! I instantly got this image in my mind of a pet owner walking her dog to the store to pick up some carnage in a can and bag, and on the way the dog pulls toward some roadkill on the side of the road, and the owner, disgusted with the site, instinctively jerks her dog away from the carnage so she can go to the store to buy some even worse-for-her-dog rendered carnage in cans and bags with nice pictures on it! And people wonder why their dogs get those jellyfied lumps on them when they get older????

    Thanks Kerry for giving us an alternative to doggie cancer!!!

    val says...

    September 27th, 2008, 9:13 am

    this is great! anyone know of recipes for cats??

    ILIL says...

    September 27th, 2008, 11:40 am

    This is totally wrong. Dogs are NOT vegetarians. They are NOT omnivores. They are opportunistic omnivores — a totally different definition — and they do need some grass and greens, but to feed them on a strictly vegetarian diet is not only wrong, it is downright cruel. I am a vegetarian, a memeber of PETA, I saved all my cats, and I subscribe to just about any animal saving plan, so I have the right to express my views on this forum. We cannot change nature, and nature, unfortunately, is based on carnivores eating herbivores. Dogs are carnivores, period, and if you try to change that, you are abusing your dog.

    Carol Allie says...

    September 29th, 2008, 8:41 am

    I have to agree with ILIL. I am also a member of PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, I am an ASPCA Guardian and my cat and two dogs are rescues. I don’t see anything wrong with eating meat, poultry, fish, etc., but I believe that animals, including farm/food animals should be treated in a humane way. I believe in boycotting companies that do not demand that their suppliers closely monitor how their animals are treated. I will never accept that horses, dogs and cats are food animals. There is a lot wrong with this world, but I do not think that dogs should be deprived of a healthy diet.

    kerry says...

    September 29th, 2008, 10:24 am

    i admit I was a disbeliever myself when my parents converted their dogs into vegetarians about 10 years ago. At that time I thought dogs were actually carnivores, and i was worried for them. however, i watched their doggies thrive on their vegetarian diet,and did some research to find out that dogs actually are omnivores. Patty and Woofie are happy, healthy old dogs 10 years later. My old dog Elsie was a vegetarian for the last 4 years of her 17 year life span, and my 2 dogs have now been vegetarian for 5 years Both are happy and have passed their vet physicals every year. Has anyone actually had any actual experience with vegetarian dogs being unhealthy or having a shortened life span? ?

    sweetsie boy says...

    September 29th, 2008, 3:31 pm

    I 2nd Kerry’s motion. If one is going to be that religiously polarized against a great idea that benefits the planet and the welfare of all animals, than that person should provide the evidence to support the claim of ignorantly endangering the pet by not feeding it other animals. I totally understand this to be true for cats, but dogs prove otherwise, in my personal experience. If there was going to be a problem, I believe it would have already revealed itself in the last 5 dogs I have owned. You will have a much easier time finding an unhealthy dog on a rendered meat-based diet than you will finding an unhealthy dog on a vegetable-based diet. Maybe you need to go to a rendering plant and see what they are more than willing to feed your dog and see if you agree with them???

    I wait with Kerry for your evidence to the contrary…..

    Nancy Mueller says...

    September 30th, 2008, 11:01 am

    As Mark Derr writes in Dog’s Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship, “…finding accurate information on dog food is difficult, as every manufacturer pushes it own version of the perfect diet.” [Read this wonderful book for great information on dog evolution and behavior.] Common sense alone tells us that humans, indeed triathletes and other superbly fit athletes, thrive on a vegetarian diet — humans that have been omnivores for millions of years. This has been documented by archeologists through analysis of the remains of plant and animal matter in prehistoric “dumps.” If the human diet mirrors the dog diet’s effect on general health — get out the doggie carrots!

    Carol Allie says...

    September 30th, 2008, 1:41 pm

    I do not personally know anyone who has their dog on a vegetarian diet. I plan to do more research on this. When left to their own choices, dogs prefer meat. What do wolves and wild dogs eat? Meat.

    kerry says...

    October 1st, 2008, 1:13 pm

    thank you Carol. I have tried to find some actual studies, but I havent been able to find any. I guess someone would need to take a litter of puppies and raise half as vegetarians and half as carnivores and test them over the years. I think our dogs probably would choose meat over vegetables, but all our vegetarian dogs live peacefully with housefuls of cats and kittens that we foster. If they were truly desperately meat-deprived they would go after the kitties like wolves or wild dogs would.

    Carol Allie says...

    October 1st, 2008, 2:16 pm

    Hi Kerry: Thank you for the information. Your kind spirit comes through the e-mail exchange. I almost never post comments on any website for any reason as most of them seem to arouse anger in the participants. I find this to be an interesting subject. When you have a moment, let me know if your cats are vegetarians also and, if not, do the dogs try to eat the cat food. When it comes right down to it, each one of us will make decisions as to what we think is best for our loved ones. Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

    Nancy says...

    October 2nd, 2008, 11:36 am

    Carol — I have to agree with you on the temper of the blogs and comments on this site. It is wonderful to have no name-calling exchanges, and it does us all good to pay close attention to the words we use — no “snarl” words lead to more rational conversations . After all, we all want the best for the animals in our lives — we just can’t always agree on what “best” is.

    As for the meat v. veggie diet…while it is true that dogs prefer meat over veggies (like many people), it simply is not a good quality product, and this is especially true for most dry dog foods. Cancer rates among dogs are 1 in 5, and like humans, much of that is attributed to environment, including food. So, if your dog actually lives a longer and healthier life, despite the differences in anatomy and physiology between humans and dogs…why NOT feed a non-meat diet?

    kerry says...

    October 3rd, 2008, 4:07 pm

    Carol, My cats are NOT vegetarians. I would love to hear from anyone anywhere who has ever had any vegetarian cats. I would love to be proven wrong, but I think cats are truly carnivores and I dont think cats can be healthy on a vegetarian diet. As for my dogs, only my old dog Zoey tries to get into the cat food. But she also tries to get into the trash can and she steals the cucumbers out of the garden and pulls down the pea vines trying to get to the peas. She is a total chowhound. When I first got her from the shelter she was swayback and skinny and limped. The vet found she had cancer in her foot pad. The vet cut out the cancer and said she hoped it would not return, but it was a kind of cancer that spread and mutated easy. That was 5 years ago, and so far, so good. I never really thought about it, but perhaps Nancy is right and Zoey’s veggie diet has helped her fight off a return of cancer.

    Sandy says...

    November 6th, 2008, 2:52 pm

    Interesting reading. My family are all vegetarian and we switched our dogs, using a quality commercial vegetarian food mixed with a little home cooking. One of my dogs also steals food from the garden and even eats the blueberries off the bush as they ripen, guess she just likes food in general. I have been worried after reading different opinions but now I feel a little better about the whole thing. I just didn’t want them to be deficient in any essential nutrients. They are healthy with the exception of a little seasonal skin allergy. Still working on that. Trying the addition of different kinds of oils. She seems to be better though. Thank you all for your information.

    Darlene says...

    November 25th, 2008, 11:47 pm

    i dont think it matter what dogs prefer the taste of. i prefer the taste of meat to vegetarian but i choose to be vegetarian despite my passions because its healthier for my body. this has to be a matter of health not taste. what kid wouldnt prefer coco pops over weetbix? dogs can thrive very well on a vegan diet if done properly just as humans can.

    Elizabeth says...

    December 1st, 2008, 10:14 am

    Thank you! You have inspired me to bake up several patches of these biscuits for my dogs and the dogs of my friends, family and neighbors as holiday gifts!

    stephanie says...

    December 17th, 2008, 5:50 am

    Hello I am a vegetarian myself and I just got a new dog Petey. He has had skin rashes/itching and eye itching. The last owner told me it was just allergies. I switched the dog to nature’s recipe vegetarian and he is doing so much better! I hope the feeding veggie diet doesn’t shorten his life span like the rumor is. But hey if people are carnivores and they live longer lives eating vegetarian what is so differen’t about dogs? (considering their carnivores too?)

    Sarah says...

    February 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm

    I’m vegan and switched my dog over to a vegan diet about two years ago. After I switched her over she became a decent bit more active and started playing with toys when she hadn’t before. I live near a sanctuary that has all vegetarian dogs that all seem healthy and some are quite old. I let my dog have treats from other people that have meat and dairy, but we don’t keep it at home. I personally think probably allowing your dog some meat (like 1-5%, which my dog gets through freeganism, lol) of their diet might be good, but that overall a largely vegan diet is better. I feed my dog about 1/4 vegan kibble mixed with seeds, nuts, fresh greens, DHA oil, and fresh bean sprouts everyday as a soup and she loves it.

    I think the idea that if your dog prefers one thing to another doesn’t mean he/she is healthier- why would you think a canine’s tastebuds are more evolved then ours? My dog if given a choice would eat tons of cooked meat, sugar, and chocolate, just like a human, but she thrives on a mostly vegan diet. People use this reasoning for themselves not being vegan. Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores- I would love to see information on disease prevention, like the China Study, but for dogs. I would imagine a mostly vegan diet would prevent most cancers and heart disease in dogs, my dog is certainly a lot more active now. I know over 10 dogs that are vegan and they are all extremely active, happy, and healthy. Does anyone know if B-12 is important for canines?

    Sarah says...

    February 21st, 2009, 2:13 pm

    Interesting read guys!

    http://www.vegepets.info/pages/vegetarian_canine_diets.htm

    Jim says...

    April 30th, 2009, 6:06 pm

    Garlic powder? From what I was told, garlic is toxic to dogs, cooked or not. I don’t know about the powder specifically, but I don’t think I would risk it.

    Haley says...

    May 8th, 2009, 11:35 pm

    Well that’s definately way too spiffy!!!!!!! What do you have for cats???

    mtumba djibouti says...

    June 3rd, 2009, 4:44 pm

    I feed both of my dogs a home made organic diet with lots of veggies and beans and tofu, but often ad meat, too, out of a concern for nutrition. Are the recipes above verified by an independent resource as providing necessary nutrition for canine needs? I’d love to reduce or eliminate meat for my dogs if it’s possible to do it and maintain their health, too.

    Alexander Hawkeswood says...

    January 5th, 2010, 1:34 pm

    I think feeding dogs a plant based diet is the right thing to do for so many reasons. Here are ten good reasons:
    (1) You could cut all ties with the cruel meat industries
    (2) Your dog(s) health would be better
    (3) Your dog(s) are likely to live longer. Vegetarian dogs often live to 18 or more. Bramble, a vegan dog from the age of 2, lived to be 29!
    (4) They will look more attractive and more youthful
    (5) They will smell sweeter
    (6) A plant based diet is so much more gentle on the environment
    (7) You won’t be feeding harmful waste products found in meat based dog foods
    (8) Your dogs(s) may enjoy eating the food more. I read about Reggie the veggie dog who chose vegetarian over meat based food. I also witnessed this dog, Aurora, who sniffed both meat based and vegan dog food and then proceeded to eat all of the animal free food. So given the choice, dogs could well be happier being fed vegan
    (9) Less green house gases. Cows produce a lot of methane, much more potent than carbon dioxide. So you’ll be helping to save The World from climate change
    (9) If dogs decide they want some animal protein, they could obtain it in a much more natural way, by hunting, as nature intended
    (10) No chance of your dog(s) suffering meat allergies. This is caused by them being fed too much meat because many people think they are carnivores. As they are omnivores they need things like grass and wheat to stay in tip top health. I often find dogs I’ve taken for walks are really keen to chew on grass. They love wheat based food aswell. And maybe they would eat lots of nuts if there was an abundance of nut trees. I’ve found dogs really go for this kind of food when offered it

    Pam Viener says...

    March 16th, 2010, 2:08 pm

    I am looking for a vegan recipe for my dog that has all the nutrients necessary to be healthy and happy. Would prefer one basic recipe that veggies and fruits could be added to. I would be very happy to hear from you.

    Thank you,

    Pam Viener

    Loulou says...

    September 30th, 2010, 2:00 pm

    My doggy has burns pet food (hypoallergenic, homeopathic all singing all dancing which is mainly brown rice and meat) but she just loves vegetables. we got her a raw bone from the farm shop (they give them away for free) she sniffed it got scared of it and followed me around whilst chopping carrotts. she prefers veg to meat. So i am planning on trying her with commercial vegan dog food happidog to be exact. and see what she thinks. at the moment she is very unwell (she has tummy bug) so i am making her a healthy vegan meal that will be easy to digest. I think as with all things it depends on what your dogs tastes are they all have their own little characters

    Christina says...

    March 20th, 2011, 9:45 pm

    I am trying slowly to convert to a semi-vegitarian diet for my recently rehomed Rough Collie. The Kibble i give her has meny herbs and provides roughage for her teeth , but I do also give her herbal Plaque Off in addition to grated raw vegitables ,seeds,and tofu orcottage cheese.
    I am myself a vegitarian of many years.it can be difficult to balance and apply myself to organizing and giving the correct amount for her age and activity levels. It takes concentrated effort with supplementation of vitaims,minerals ,pro and prebiotics and enzymes.Since comimg to me she has put weight on and is borderline up to her Max acceptable body weight. Some foods she tolerates physicaly others give her loose bowels ,so i have to redress the problem.
    People in general are not all comprehending, or willing especially if they have little money or patience to prepare homemade meals for their pets.
    I also recently have turned to the use of herbal wormers and homeopathic Flea remedies. I also practise massage and tapping therpies which helps move toxins and muscle knotting to be eased and at the same time give pleasure ,bonding and also allows you to check for any telltail signs of injuries ors abnormalities.

    Peter says...

    November 4th, 2011, 5:25 am

    I have to laugh at the people who are screaming “I’m a member of PETA and I think it’s inhumane to feed a dog vegetarian diet”

    Well I am also in total support of PETA, and they say it is ethically consistent with animal rights philosophy to have your pet on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

    Anyone remember the 27 year old border Collie Brame? Well she was fed a diet of rice and lentils and organic vegetables, and that earned her a consideration for the oldest living dog in 2002.

    http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/vegetarian-cats-and-dogs.aspx

    sandi says...

    March 29th, 2012, 4:46 pm

    My dog was chewing her fur off and gnawing on her paws so we took her to the vet. The vet ran tests to see what the problem could be and they found out that our dog was allergic to meat. She is now on a vegetarian diet and seems to be doing well.

    Jez says...

    July 11th, 2012, 2:56 pm

    @ ILIL says… September 27th, 2008, 11:40 am

    Yes we can change nature, nature changes all time — it is called EVOLUTION.

    Ruth says...

    September 9th, 2012, 3:36 pm

    my dog was diagnosed with several allergies aout 5 yars ago and has been having a mixture of dried dog food and home cooked meals of fish rice and veg. I’ve been making her treats for some time and looking for ways to vary her diet, particularly as she has had problems with the dried food when taking the steroids she occasionally has for other allergiessuch as grass, cats etc. Does anyone know if there is any alternative to steroids as the grass allergy is particularly bad in the summer. I’ll definitely be trying the lentils and split peas recipe.

    deb says...

    November 25th, 2012, 9:25 pm

    I have tried and still desire to cook for my dog a vegatarian diet. I currently cook a meat diet and it is very very painful to handle and buy this meat. Also, I believe that the same things that hurt me are the things that hurt my dog friend. We go to the vet tomorrow. He is a disbeliever in things that I do, but I can afford him, so I go. He is also extremely compassionate.

    This recipe and other vegetarian recipes that I see are much too heavy on carbohydrates in my opinion. I eat beans and tofu for protein. Can a dog eat those two proteins and get by?

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