This is part of an occasional series exploring questions of consistency and other moral dilemmas facing vegans and animal rights advocates.
For those of us who are vegans for any or all of the usual reasons (for the sake of animals, our own health, or the environment), it can be a moral dilemma embracing a vegan diet for ourselves—and often for our children as well—but not for the canine companions we share our homes with. It can be especially challenging for those of us who want to maintain a truly vegan household. It seems absurd to many of us to feed ourselves a vegan diet while still feeding our animal companions meat from farmed animals! It does raise an interesting question about imposing our ethics on our dogs.
One veterinarian told me that the choices we make for ourselves should not be imposed on our dogs. How do we know that our dogs would want to be vegan? But another vet took a more practical approach by pointing out that dogs live under the rules of our household and that the only thing that is important from his perspective is that dogs receive proper nutrition, whether it’s plant-based or animal-based.
The good news is that it’s easy to feed your dog a healthy and wholesome vegan diet. While you could feed Fido homemade food or many of the great vegan foods that you make for yourself, there is a much easier and more convenient route that also ensures that he is on a sound nutritional diet.
V-dog makes and markets only vegan dog food. The company’s food is sold online, and shipping is free. Several commercial dog-food brands offer vegan varieties. Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance offers a vegetarian formula. Nature’s Recipe has a vegetarian recipe, as does AvoDerm. Although “vegetarian” is used in their names, all three products are vegan. Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, Nature’s Recipe, and AvoDerm offer their dog foods in both a dry formula and a canned formula, and they are available at most major pet supply stores.
And vegan dog treats abound as well. PetGuard offers two vegan varieties: Mr. Barky’s Treats and Mr. Pugsly’s Treats. Zuke’s Peanut Butter ‘n’ Blueberryz Mini Bakes are also vegan, and so are Cloud Star’s veggie, sweet potato, peanut butter, and molasses varieties.
Some dogs are sensitive to wheat ingredients, as we discovered was the case with our three dogs. V-dog is still working on a wheat-free formula. The other three brands are wheat-free, as are the vegan treats made by Zuke’s. Cloud Star’s veggie and sweet potato options are also wheat-free.
Keep in mind that these are all premium foods, so expect to pay more than discount-store prices. In this case, you really do get what you pay for. And beware of dog foods that contain any type of animal “meal”—like chicken meal. This is simply the ground-up remains of animals not suitable for human consumption (not even good enough for hot dogs!).
What are your thoughts on and experiences with vegan dog food?