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Can dogs be vegan? While our canine companions prefer meat and animal products, many experts say it’s certainly possible to feed your dog a vegan diet — as long as you make sure he’s getting the proper balance of nutrients he needs.
The formulas we’ve chosen, including Wild Earth, Bramble, Freely, and more, are all nutritionally balanced diets. Vegan dog chow also has some added benefits for certain pups, but not all dogs do well on plant-based diets. We explain further in our reviews of the best vegan dog food.
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What Do I Need To Know About Vegan Diets For Dogs?
It’s a common misconception that our furry canine family members are strictly carnivores. Most experts believe that dogs are omnivores, meaning they can eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. So that’s good news if you’re a vegan household wanting to share this planet-saving lifestyle with your dog. A plant-based diet can also be an excellent option for pups with food sensitivities because animal proteins, especially beef and chicken, are common allergy culprits.
If you’re considering putting your adult dog on a plant-based diet, you should consult your veterinarian to develop a plan to ensure your dog gets all the essential nutrients he needs. That said, several commercial vegan dog food brands contain all the nutrients dogs need. And some recent research has indicated that plant-based dog food can be a healthy alternative for some dogs. However, it’s still a good idea to run your new food plan by your vet to make sure it’s healthy for your dog.
Are Homemade Vegan Diets Okay For Dogs?
Problems can arise if you put your dog on a homemade vegan dog food diet or any homemade recipe. Dogs require different nutrients and levels of important vitamins and minerals than humans do. So, it’s not as simple as feeding your dog what your vegan family is eating.
This is when it’s crucial to consult with your vet or a vet nutritionist. If you’re feeding your dog home-cooked vegan dog food, he very likely will need certain supplemental nutrients. Your vet can help you develop a plan to ensure he’s getting everything he needs.
These are the best vegan dog food brands recommended by veterinarians, and all contain the necessary protein levels and other nutrients dogs require based on the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines. Adult dogs should have a minimum of 18% protein in their diets. We’ve listed the protein contents in each brand’s formulas. Also, all the dog foods we review here are made in the USA and contain no artificial ingredients.
Consult With Your Vet
Best Dry: Wild Earth Review
Featured on Shark Tank, Wild Earth makes veterinarian-developed, nutritionally complete kibble and treats with no animal-derived ingredients. Their kibble comes in two different flavored maintenance formulas, which contain 23% protein, and a performance formula for more active dogs (31% protein). All three formulas include all-natural, clean food sources such as oats, barley, sweet potatoes, and safflower oil.
They’re also fortified with flaxseed, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for skin, coat, and joint health, taurine for heart health, and L-carnitine, which improves the body’s ability to metabolize fats, as well as essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The performance formula also contains such superfoods as blueberries, cranberries, pumpkin, and spinach.
Their treats contain the superfood koji, another great source of protein for vegan dogs. None of their products have artificial ingredients or fillers. They also have several vegan health supplements for skin, joint, and digestive health. Wild Earth offers a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.
By signing up for auto-shipping, you can save 30% on your first order and 5% on repeat deliveries.
In-Depth Review Wild Earth Review
Best Fresh: Bramble Review
A relatively new brand, Bramble offers two fresh vegan dog food recipes, The Cowbell and The Roost. Both are formulated by animal nutritionists, made with human-grade, whole-food ingredients, gently cooked to preserve nutrients, and lab-tested to ensure quality and nutritional value. This premium subscription-based service personalizes your pup’s portions based on his age, weight, and activity level.
The Cowbell recipe is grain-free with over 31% protein (dry matter basis). Noteworthy ingredients include organic pea protein, lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots, organic flax oil, peas, and apples. The Roost contains more than 35% protein and features organic pea protein, long-grain brown rice, potatoes, garbanzo beans, carrots, blueberries, butternut squash, peas, and organic sunflower oil. Both are fortified with taurine for heart health. Such high protein levels can be a health concern for some dogs, so be sure to talk with your vet before switching to any high-protein recipe.
Bramble is a complete and balanced plant-based diet backed by some research. Bramble’s feeding trial determined that Bramble’s protein is just as digestible as animal protein, and Bramble’s fat is even more digestible. Dogs fed Bramble had lower cholesterol and triglycerides and healthier microbiomes than dogs fed chicken-based kibble.
Our Personal Experiences With Bramble
Our dog is on a veggie diet and a picky eater. After trying various kibbles, we found one that didn’t upset his tummy, but he wasn’t a fan of the taste or texture. We sprinkle Bramble as a topper and he loves it now! He gets so excited for meal time and before he wouldn’t eat. We even mix his medication in and he doesn’t notice it in the wet food. Each shipment comes with 8 frozen 1 pound packs of food to store in the freezer until you need it and thaw it out. (The box itself was very eco-friendly and no waste or dry ice). It also comes with a clip to seal the bag once you open it. There is no strong odor and the consistency is soft and easy to scoop (versus other canned foods we’ve tried in the past).– Sadie Cornelius, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent
My dog, Sally, loves it when I use fresh food as a kibble topper. Adding Bramble to her kibble was a massive hit for Sally. She loves the taste. As her pet parent, my biggest complaint is that it is frozen, so I need to have freezer space for it and think ahead to have some thawed for her before mealtimes. However, I was thoroughly impressed with the packaging and little waste. I agree with Sadie, too; there is no strong odor, which is a huge plus because I’m not fond of odorous dog food and treats.– Kimberly Alt, Coonhound mix parent
Subscription pricing is based on each dog’s age, weight, and activity level. You can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.
Best Canned: Freely Vegetarian Wet Review
This limited-ingredient, grain-free formula from Freely is an excellent choice for dogs with food sensitivities or for those who prefer wet food over kibble. With nearly 32% protein (on a dry-matter basis), this all-natural formula contains nutrient-dense superfoods like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and peas.
It’s also fortified with flaxseed for omega fatty acids, taurine for heart health, antioxidants for immune health, prebiotics for digestive health, and essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. This canned food is one of the very few grain-free vegan dog foods you can find on the market.
- 6 cans (12.5 oz each):
If you like sticking to one brand for your pup’s dry and wet food as well as treats, Halo Holistic’s line of vegan dog food products may be your best choice. Garden of Vegan brand comes in kibble, canned food, and treats.
The dog food is complete and balanced with healthy plant-based proteins (20%) from nutrient-rich chickpeas and peas and a unique vegan blend of vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients. They contain no meat, dairy, corn, or wheat, making them a great choice for dogs with ingredient sensitivities.
- Kibble (21-lb bag):
- Wet Food (1 dozen 13-oz cans): $49.44
- Treats (8-oz bag):
Other Best Vegan Dog Food
Although these vegan dog foods didn’t make our top picks, they’re definitely worth your consideration. V-Dog is an exclusively vegan dog food brand, while our two other options offer vegan dog food options.
JustFoodForDogs Fresh Tofu & Quinoa Review
If you’re looking for an alternative to Bramble’s fresh vegan dog food options, you may want to consider this fresh Tofu and Quinoa recipe from JustFoodForDogs (JFFD). JFFD is one of the pioneering companies to produce fresh, human-grade dog food, and they’ve added this formula to their large menu of fresh and shelf-stable formulas.
This tofu recipe features nearly 31% of protein (on a dry-matter basis), hearty grains, and whole superfoods, like kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and white mushrooms. Another plus is that you’re not required to sign up for a subscription to get fresh vegan dog food delivered right to your door.
- 7 pack of 18-oz pouches: $79.03
Get 35% off your first order at JustFoodForDogs. Just use this link to get started.
In-Depth JustFoodForDogs Review
Open Farm Kind Earth Plant Recipe Review
If your primary concern about feeding your dog a vegan diet stems from questionable meat-sourcing practices, you may want to consider this company. Open Farm is a brand committed to humanely sourced ingredients and sustainability. In addition to a huge variety of animal-based dog food, they offer a fantastic plant-based kibble. This grain-inclusive formula contains 22% protein, is developed by animal nutritionists, and is made with 100% traceable and non-GMO ingredients.
Featuring whole-grain barley as the first ingredient, it also contains nutrient-dense superfoods such as sweet potatoes, flaxseed, pumpkin, kale, carrots, and dandelion greens. It’s fortified with all the essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your pup needs.
You can save 5% off every order if you sign up for auto-shipping with Open Farm.
- Starts at (3.5-lb bag) $19.99
In-Depth Open Farm Review
Popular dog food manufacturer Natural Balance makes vegan dry and wet formulas for dogs. The meat-free kibble contains 18% plant-based proteins plus all the other necessary nutrients dogs need. It also includes brown rice, oat groats, barley, and peas as its main ingredients and has omega fatty acids to help support healthy skin and a shiny coat and taurine for heart health. If you like feeding your pup wet and dry food together, you can pair his kibble with Natural Balance’s vegan canned food.
Our Personal Experience With Natural Balance Vegetarian Dry Formula
Our 2.5-year-old dog is on a meat-free diet as a recommendation from his vet to minimize anal gland issues. We’ve tried several vegan brands for our picky eater but he likes Natural Balance and has stuck with their plant-powered recipe. His bowels are normal again, and he gobbles the little disc-shaped pieces up!– Sadie Cornelius, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent
- Kibble (24-lb bag):
- Wet Food (1 dozen 13-oz cans):
v-dog is a family-owned company specializing solely in producing high-quality vegan dog food. Their plant-based kibble contains 24% protein, easily digestible grains, fruits, vegetables, and essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also fortified with flaxseed, taurine, and L-carnitine.
v-dog even offers mini-sized kibble for small dogs as well as vegan dog biscuits and dental bones. None of its products include animal products, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, factory farming, by-products, artificial ingredients, or fillers.
- Kibble (24-lb bag):
- Wiggle Biscuits (7-oz bag):
- Breathbones (6 ct):
- Jerky: asa2 tpl=”PriceLink”]B08SJDZ7PL[/asa2]
Our Personal Experience With v-dog Jerkey & Breath Bones
Our dog is obsessed with the v-dog jerky, he goes crazy every time we give it to him. We usually put it inside a Kong to make it a challenge to eat since he devours it so quickly. It doesn’t have any odor and is soft but not messy. We also recently started using v-dog’s breath bones to help with his bad breath. A bit skeptical at first, he warmed up and was a big fan. We are too, since it lasted a good 30 minutes. We noticed a bit better-smelling mouth afterward and plan to give him one daily now at the end of the day. The regular sized were a bit big for him, but he managed to carry it around and hold it with his paws. It didn’t smell, and love that we found a solution that is natural and meat-free for him to help combat tartar and smelly teeth.– Sadie Cornelius, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parent
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we often see about plant-based pet food and related nutritional concerns. Don’t see yours here? Ask us in our comments.
Which Dogs Shouldn’t Eat A Plant-Based Diet?
Most vets agree that vegan diets aren’t healthy for dogs with a propensity to develop dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a hereditary heart condition that’s also been linked to some grain-free dog foods. The current thinking is that these dogs require animal-based proteins. Breeds at a higher risk for DCM include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Boxers, and Cocker Spaniels.
Also, some highly energetic dogs, like Border Collies, likely need more fat and caloric content than you can find in commercially available vegan dog food to fuel their energy needs. And small-breed dogs, who have faster metabolisms than larger dogs, may require higher caloric content than plant-based dog food can offer.
Can Puppies Eat Vegan Dog Food?
No. If you’re searching for vegan puppy food, you are unlikely to find one that’s considered healthy for your puppy. Why? Veterinarians strongly advise against feeding puppies a vegan or even a vegetarian diet. Growing puppies not only need a puppy-specific formula, but they also require nutrients derived from animal-based proteins and often higher caloric content than you can find in vegan dog food.
Can Cats Be Vegan?
No. Cats are carnivores and require meat and animal products in their diets. Their digestive systems aren’t adapted to plant-based diets, and they won’t be healthy or thrive if you only feed them vegetarian or vegan diets.
This brief video from a certified dog nutritionist explains why your dog likely needs vitamin and other nutrient supplements if he’s on a homemade dog food diet, whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, or includes meat and animal products.
If you want to go the homemade dog food route and learn more about your dog’s nutrition requirements, the book Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs is a helpful resource. But remember to consult with your veterinarian to make sure your dog’s getting all the nutrients he needs.
If you’re switching your dog to a vegan diet with your vet’s approval, you’ll need to know how to transition him from his current food. Dogs’ digestive systems are extremely sensitive to sudden food changes and can develop diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, and uncomfortable gas. So be sure to read our article on how to change your dog’s food safely before starting a new food.
Should I Consider Allergy Testing And Supplements?
If you’re considering switching your pup to a vegan diet to address allergy problems, you may want to consider an at-home dog allergy test to discover the origin. All you have to do is send a saliva or hair sample to the company’s lab and get results within a few weeks. You can then share these results with your vet to help further narrow down possible causes. You may also want to consider a dog allergy supplement, as long as your vet gives you the green light.Tagged With: Comparison, Food Delivery, Vegan