It’s our puppy’s first birthday this week and I’m thinking of inviting a couple of her doggie friends over for a little party. Her first year has been quite the fun-filled and entertaining experience for the whole family and a celebration of the end of her puppyhood feels bittersweet. It’s really been never a dull moment! After all, we (as pet owners) put so much time, love, patience and work into making sure our pets happy, obedient, healthy and well-adjusted that it amounts to a big investment on many levels. But as pet-lovers know, the rewards come back ten-fold. The year went so fast and it’s hard to believe that my little Babka (yes, that’s her ridiculous name) is growing up and mellowing just a bit—not that she isn’t still unraveling toilet paper and stealing underwear and occasionally pooping in the living room (do I detect a trend?)—but we are definitely moving towards the adult stage of life.
Believe it or not, I have come across many sites that discuss raising a vegan dog! As a vegan human, all this information on the topic has caused me to wonder about the pros and cons of raising a dog vegan. My gut feeling has been “of course not—dogs are predatory and eat meat!” And, “just because I eat vegan, I can’t foist that upon a pet of a different species!” But as I researched recipes for making our own doggy treats for Babka’s birthday party, I found myself reading about this controversial subject.
”Dogs are classified in the order Carnivora, but, unlike cats (a topic for another day) they have evolved biologically as omnivores, meaning their systems can derive nutrients from a wide variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and animal products. ‘The important thing is that you use a diet that has been shown to be nutritionally adequate for whatever stage of life you’re feeding, and it is absolutely possible to find a good quality commercial pet food that doesn’t have animal products in it,’ says veterinarian Kathryn E. Michel, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.”
That being said, we probably all agree that regardless of our own personal choice of diet, we do need to do what’s best for the animal in our care. Veterinarian, Michael Fox, former president of the U.S. Humane Society and author of “Dog Mind, Dog Body,” is a lacto-ovo vegetarian who feeds his dogs an omnivorous diet prepared at home. He says the best approach for dogs — and humans — is a varied diet from organic ingredients. He says some adult dogs do adapt and even thrive on well-balanced vegan diets, but contends that dogs do best with a variety of foods that include some animals fats and protein. He feels that if we don’t have the science to prove that a vegan approach would be healthiest for dogs, then we need to take the cautionary path.
Another motive for putting dogs on a vegan diet is to eliminate allergies. According to veterinarian Armaiti May, also a vegan,”I’ve seen many dogs with food allergies, and often switching to a vegan diet can help them. They also avoid taking in animal by-products from commercially produced dog food, including slaughterhouse waste products and rejects that wouldn’t be fit for human consumption. We’ve seen a lot of cancer and other degenerative diseases in dogs in recent years so it’s easy to suspect that pet food could be a contributor.”
PETA weighs in on this topic on their website and tells of “one remarkable example…of Bramble, a 27-year-old border collie whose vegan diet of rice, lentils, and organic vegetables earned her consideration by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest living dog in 2002. Studies have shown that the ailments associated with meat consumption in humans, such as allergies, cancer, and kidney, heart, and bone problems, also affect many nonhumans.”
Health professionals, for example Dr. Mercola, who take the position against a vegan diet for dogs, will tell you to look at their anatomy for evidence that dogs are, in fact, carnivores, not omnivores. Their teeth, jaws, and digestive tract seem to be designed for meat-eating, not veggie-munching. Is it natural for a dog to not eat meat as part of their regular diet?
For dogs, as for humans, it’s most important to get all the nutrients that we need and sometimes supplementation is advised. From reading various articles about vegan dogs, I can appreciate both sides of the coin. I do know, for sure, that it’s somewhat distasteful for me to open up a can and spoon out meaty dog food or break up raw animal-derived patties, knowing what’s in it. But should my personal feelings be the reason to put my little Babka on a vegan diet? The positive argument, that dogs can survive, thrive and enjoy healthy and robust lives on a vegan diet seems not only possible but proven.
If you are vegan and are raising a dog vegan, I’d love to hear about your experience—the whys, whats and hows of making that decision!
In the meantime, I have chosen a few yummy looking treats to make for Babka’s party and, yes, they are all vegan!
3 DIY VEGAN DOG TREAT RECIPES
Organic Banana Carob Dog Vegan Cupcakes from Vegan Miss
Ingredients (for organic banana carob cupcakes):
2 cups of water
2 ripe organic bananas
1/8 tsp organic vanilla extract
3 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 1/2 to 2 tsp organic baking powder
1/4 to 1/3 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
2 tbs organic agave nectar
1/2 cup organic carob powder
Ingredients (for organic cinnamon frosting):
3 oz. organic vegan cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon
1/4 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/4 tsp organic agave nectar (or more to taste)
Ingredients (for organic carob frosting):
3 oz. organic vegan cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp organic carob powder
1/4 tsp organic agave nectar
1. Cupcakes: In a mixing bowl, combine water, bananas, applesauce, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir in whole wheat flour, carob powder, and baking powder. Put cupcake papers in a mini cupcake tray or spray it down with non-stick.
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
3. Cinnamon or Carob Frosting: In a bowl, combine all frosting ingredients and blend thoroughly.
4. Allow cupcakes to cool, then frost. These are also a perfect low-cal/low-fat recipe for humans! What a way to bond with your pooch by sharing mini cupcakes.
Notes: For dog treats of any kind, they should contain no chocolate, salt, and sugar. Instead, use a natural sweetener such as agave nectar. These are also a perfect low-cal/low-fat recipe for humans! What a way to bond with your pooch by sharing mini cupcakes.
All Natural Vegan Dog Treat from Petsugar.com
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C white flour
1/2 C organic, all-natural peanut butter
1 C water
2 Tbs oil
- Preheat oven to 350. Using a mixer, combine the water, oil and peanut butter; cream until mixed well. Add the flours one cup at a time. You will have a crumbly mixture.
- Press together tightly to form a hard ball.
- Divided the dough in half so that it’s easier to work with. Just work a little quickly as the other half of the dough will start to get a bit drier. Roll out to a 1/4″ thickness and cut into 3-4″ shapes. I used a pizza cutter to make little squares. Feel free to make any size or shape.
- Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
Peanut Butter Carrot Puppy Biscuits from vegweb.com
5 cups flour
3 cups rolled oats
2-1/4 cups water
5 large carrots, finely shredded
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine flour and oats. Mix in water, carrots, peanut butter, and applesauce.
3. Knead dough until people-cookie dough consistency. Roll out dough to desired thickness on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to create biscuit shapes.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly firm. Let biscuits cool… and let pups enjoy!
I came across a fascinating article on happyherbivore.com about a vegan family that successfully feed their dogs vegan food. The many comments posted at the end of the article indicate that people are looking for nutritional solutions to their pets’ issues and switching to a vegan diet seems to benefit them.
I will be sure to report back about how these recipes came out and how well they are received. The funny thing about these vegan treats is that people can eat them too! So does that prove that vegan makes more sense? I truly don’t know. I’m pondering that!
Click here to read about the vegan family including pets on Happy Herivore
Click here to read about why dogs should not be vegan
Click here to read why dogs should be vegan
Click here to read how plant-based diets can help dog’s health issues
Click here to read about the vegan pet trend on CNN
Happy 1st Birthday, Babka! Thank you for the laughs and joy you’ve given me! And thank you to my husband for surprising me with her for my birthday!