Can a healthy hound be a vegan one? While some owners hesitate to make the move away from meat-based kibble, new research is proving that dogs can be vegan — and that it’s really good for them (and the planet). These vegan dog food brands make it easy.
Can Dogs Be Vegan?
Research gathered by Hill’s Pet explains why, like humans, dogs possess more omnivorous traits than carnivorous ones, meaning that they can survive – and thrive – without meat. In fact, one of the oldest dogs ever – who lived for 27 years (or 189 dog years) ate only vegan food.
Serving up plant-based food to your pooch also avoids the health risks common in animal-derived pet food. One vegan pet food company Wild Earth explains that most major dog food brands use “meat scraps from the ‘4D animals’ – dead, dying, diseased or disabled — so there could really be anything in there.”
Concerns also lie in the possible presence of pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize livestock. Last year, the FDA warned pet owners that it had discovered the sedative in some dog food products, forcing major pet food company J.M. Smucker Company to withdraw shipments of Gravy Train, Skippy, and Ol’ Roy, among others. It’s not a new concern; the FDA began studying euthanasia drugs in pet food in 1990 after veterinarians said that pentobarbital was losing its effect on dogs. The FDA conducted dozens of tests and many came back positive, ConsumerAffairs reported.
“Everyday there is new information about the link between a plant-based diet and disease prevention,” says Kathy Kramer, Medical Director at Vancouver Animal Wellness. “Why would it not be the same for our beloved dogs who are prone to many of the same diseases?”
Environmental Impact of Dog Food
As well as containing a host of risky ingredients, mass-produced pet food is “an environmental disaster,” according to The Guardian, which questioned, “are vegan dogs the answer?” The publication highlighted that pet food is responsible for a quarter of the environmental impact of meat production because of its land use, water use, fossil fuels, phosphates, and pesticides.
One study found that in the United States alone, the production and consumption of pet food generate up to 70 million tons of carbon every year.
In terms of the planet, The Guardian notes that raw meat pet food, in particular, is a “step backwards.”
A growing bank of research is proving the environmental benefits of plant-based food, not just for dogs but humans, too. Animal agriculture is responsible for significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, pollution, and biodiversity loss. The largest ever food production analysis found that ditching all animal products in favor of plant-based foods is the “single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth.”
Demand for Vegan Dog Food
Alongside a population that’s increasingly looking for ways to consume more sustainably, healthily, and responsibly, the demand for vegan dog food rises. A recent survey found that 35 percent of people who own pets on conventional meat-based diets are interested in switching their animals to a vegan diet.
Just under six percent of survey respondents were vegan. Of these, 27 percent said they already fed their pets a plant-based diet. Seventy-eight percent of vegans said they were interested in switching their pets to plant-based foods.
A number of pet food brands are working to cater to growing demand. Here are five of our favorite picks to help keep your hound healthy and happy, the plant-based way.
5 Top Vegan Dog Food Brands
1. Wild Earth
This sustainable health-focused startup is using technology, science, and fungus to make “the new generation of pet food.”
Wild Earth’s dog food is made with koji, a long-revered superfood with a nutritional profile similar to quinoa.
Koji is a complete protein and as the brand’s chief veterinary officer Dr. Ernie Ward points out, an “excellent high-quality protein source for dogs.” Wild Earth’s products have more protein than steak, offering more than 45 percent of protein by weight, compared to steak’s 24 percent. Dogs also love the taste. Koji gives the treats an “irresistible” umami flavor.
Wild Earth’s plant-powered dog food has all ten essential amino acids that canines need, good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and prebiotics to support digestion. It contains no additives, fillers, or preservatives, or when compared to meat-based treats, requires 90 percent fewer resources to produce.
The company says its vision is to “reinvent the behemoth pet food industry by bringing a revolutionary clean protein to market—one that comes from the Earth, not from animals.”
“This radical new approach leaves behind the inefficiencies, contamination issues, and farmed animal suffering associated with pet foods of the past,” Wild Earth explains, adding that those who purchase its Good Protein Dog Snacks are directly funding the future of pet food.
You can purchase its products online.
Is your dog suffering from non-stop itching, sore bald spots, dull fur, lethargy, and watery eyes? These symptoms may be due to food sensitivity and intolerance in your pets.
To combat allergies caused by meat-based protein, Addiction Foods offers Zen Vegetarian, a hypoallergenic high-quality pet food formulated with choice vegetable proteins and a combination of vitamins and minerals for a holistic, well-balanced, and great tasting meal for sensitive dogs.
Rich in naturally occurring isoflavones – a strong antioxidant that helps support the immune system and keeps your dog’s skin and coat healthy – Zen’s exclusive formulation is the premium plant-based pet food alternative for dogs allergic to meat proteins.
Zen also contains superfoods like peas, kelp, and rice which provide beneficial nutrients your dog needs to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle regardless of age and without depending on meat.
Zen does not contain gluten, wheat, corn, artificial preservatives, or fillers. It is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.
Canada-based Virchew strongly believes that every bite counts. With its healthy, sustainable, and compassionate plant-based food for dogs, the brand is working to help the countless number of dogs that could be suffering or dying from mysterious health issues, said to be caused by traditional meat-based dog food.
Humanity is facing “catastrophic problems,” Virchew says, including disease, climate change, factory farming, and record rates of animal extinction. “We need solutions and we need them fast … We can no longer just kick back and hope for our governments or ‘the powers that be’ to solve these issues. We’re in this together,” the company said.
Virchew’s non-kibble foods will be the first commercial 100 percent plant-based food for dogs supported by clinical evidence, veterinarian partnerships, and clinical nutrition programs that have been developed with Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists.
Thirteen of its shareholders are veterinarians, and more than half of its shareholders are women.
Dinner and Breakfast Bowls and high-quality treats will be the first products available from the company. Its bowls will be in the form of convenient, dry blends that you rehydrate before serving to your hound. Free from gluten, soy, corn, and GMOs, the products are made with human-grade ingredients such as chickpeas, lentils, pea protein, and hemp. The brand will be offering the first plant-based line of formulations for all stages of life and disease prevention.
Virchew is planning to be commercially available in summer 2019 in Vancouver, BC. Products will be available online in winter this year for customers in Canada and the U.S.
4. Honest Paws
For Honest Paws, health comes first. “We are passionate about creating ways to help your pet live a longer, healthier, happier life,” the pet food brand writes online.
“Seeing our pets age is a heart-breaking process,” the brand says. It maintains, however, that most chronic diseases that our pets suffer can be prevented.
With its innovative CBD-infused products, the company aims to boost hound health, lower vet bills, and give you and your pooch more fun-filled years.
Honest Paws’ CBD-Infused Peanut Butter offers dogs more than just great taste; thanks to the inclusion of CBD, the company guarantees that it will improve anxiety issues, pain and inflammation, allergies, insomnia, gastrointestinal issues, and seizures.
The product features only premium ingredients – including 100 percent full spectrum CBD and human-grade peanut butter – and no unnecessary preservatives, giving the treat a soft, smooth texture.
It’s is also rich in protein, fiber, potassium, heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants.
Honest Paws’ products are natural, lab-tested, and contain no soy or GMO ingredients. The company also sells vegan-friendly CBD-Infused Coconut Oil as well as products for cats.
You can purchase its products online.
PetGuard was founded in 1979 to help meet the needs of pets and families after Sharon Sherman, one of its founders, spent years watching her mother cook healthy meals for the family’s pets. This sparked a belief in the importance of delicious, natural food for the wellbeing and health of both people and animals.
One of the first in the industry, the family-owned PetGuard uses few, all-natural, high-quality ingredients to make products for health-conscious and informed pet parents to purchase. Its pet food is free from artificial preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners, and animal byproducts. The brand says its food – which is made in the United States – will help animals of all ages and lifestyles achieve health, happiness, and longevity. According to PetGuard, its customers report being “gratified” by their pets’ health improvements.
PetGuard Organic Vegan Formula Wet Dog Food is made with USDA-certified organic vegetables, fruits, and grains. Its protein content comes from peas and quinoa, with other nutrients being sourced from oats, carrots, potatoes, and spinach. It’s free from carrageenan, soy, and wheat and it includes chelated vitamins and minerals for better digestibility and absorption.
For a vegan treat that dogs love, PetGuard also sells crunchy vegan dog biscuits called Mr. Barkys.
You can purchase its products online.