There is increasing evidence that a vegan pet food diet is as healthy – if not healthier – for your dog, avoiding the harmful effects of eating meat, however, it’s important to ensure your providing the right and enough vegan dog supplements.
Dog’s digestive systems have evolved from their carnivorous roots to adapt to an omnivore diet, enabling them to get all the nutrients they need from food.
Protein is one of the elements that everyone always mentions, and the good news is that it’s easy to fulfil a canine’s protein requirements from plant food alone. However, your dog needs more than just protein; to stay in good health they need a carefully balanced supply of nutrients.
This is where some enthusiastic vegan dog parents can go wrong; a bowl full of fruit and veggies may deliver lots of healthy goodness – but may still be lacking in the occasional nutrient, or not quite deliver enough of something that the dog needs.
You can opt for a complete vegan formula which has all the necessary vegan dog supplements added, but it’s also helpful to learn about your dog’s dietary requirements too. You might also want to cook your own vegan dog food, in which case you’ll need to learn lots about doggy digestion.
Here we take a closer look at what your pooch needs to stay healthy, and how vegan dog supplements can help them along the way.
Why Do You Need Vegan Dog Supplements?
There’s something deeply satisfying about the idea of being able to prepare your dog’s food from scratch. A great way to bond, your dog will be excited when he smells it cooking and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what they’re getting.
Being a vegan is about so much more than just avoiding meat; it’s a lifestyle which is committed to being healthy and making eco-friendly choices. Preparing vegan food for your pooch fits perfectly into this ethos, and understandably you might prefer to avoid adding anything “artificial” such as supplements.
The problem is that ingredients and nutrients can behave very differently when presented in different forms. And sometimes although it looks enough on paper, in practice it can be very different.
For example, calcium is an important element in the diet and is vital for many functions, not just teeth and bones. You may have checked that there’s sufficient calcium but are you certain that your dog is getting enough vitamin D? If there’s not enough vitamin D, your canine won’t be able to absorb and metabolise the calcium, leaving them with dangerously low levels.
Other vegan dog supplements are important because they’re simply very hard to get with a plant food diet. Taurine is the most obvious example; although dogs can make their own, they require cysteine to do so. It’s very hard to get taurine from plants as it’s primarily only present in seaweed. Unless you’re feeding your dog chicken, eggs or meat, they’re likely to quickly become deficient.
Vegan dog supplements shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of what you’re providing but as a means of enabling your dog to get the very best of your gorgeous food.
What Supplements Do Dogs Need on a Vegan Diet?
The vegan dog supplements that your dog needs will depend very much on the food you will be providing. It’s highly advisable to work with a canine nutritionist to work out exactly what your dog needs, and in what quantities.
Taurine is something that every vegan dog diet should be supplemented with. Low levels of taurine have been linked to a deadly condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy so you shouldn’t risk your canine’s levels falling below what’s recommended.
If it’s any consolation, taurine can be easily depleted by all kinds of ingredients even in a meat-based diet, so taurine supplementation is standard for all types of dog food.
Vitamin B12 is another one that you might want to consider supplementing with. It can be found in fortified cereals, some types of seaweed and some plant-based meats. However, it is primarily found in animal products, which means that it’s not uncommon for vegans to need to add a supplement.
What Vitamins Do Dogs Need?
Whether you opt to create your own vegan food from scratch or you choose to buy a branded vegan food your dog will need to consume the same nutrients to stay fit, well and healthy.
Not every dog will need the same amount of each. That’s why it’s important that you either buy a formula that’s suitable for the stage of your dog’s life – i.e. puppy or senior food – or you take advice from a canine nutritionist.
Any food you give to your dog should include the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- B complex vitamins
Vitamin C isn’t missing from the above list accidentally; dogs are actually able to create their own so don’t need to consume it (although it won’t hurt them if they do
How Can You Supplement Vitamins In Your Dog’s Diet?
Following a vegan dog diet means that you can’t just throw in the usual supplements when you need to top up your canine’s nutrients. However, the good news is that there are a range of vegan dog supplements available that can deliver whatever is missing.
A good veterinary nutritionist will be able to give you some pointers. For example, some vegan dog parents choose to supplement with nutritional yeast because it’s an abundant source of B vitamins.
You can opt to either include a full complement of vitamins, topping up your canine’s levels right across the board. Alternatively, you may prefer to only add selected vitamins and nutrients that you know they will be lacking in, such as taurine.