While a vegan diet can provide your dogs with several health benefits that a meat-based diet cannot, it still lacks certain amino acids your dog needs to meet their nutritional requirements. This is where vegan dog supplements swoop in.
These supplements are the missing piece to complete your vegan dog nutrition plan.
Do Vegan Dogs Need Supplements?
As farmer’s markets begin to blossom with an assortment of fresh vegetables and fruits during the summer months, families all around the globe would spice up their dining tables with occasional vegan meals. They do so not just for the taste, but also for the health benefits a vegan diet offers.
As more people switch to a vegan lifestyle, more and more pet parents start to want the same for their pups. The switch in diets raises a few questions, including ones about vegan dog supplements. Do vegan dogs need them or are a plant-based diet enough?
Dogs have evolved to eat an omnivorous diet, much like humans. It is important to note that these furry pets have nutritional requirements and standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), including a minimum protein content of 22.5% for puppies and 18% for adults. Past studies show that a vegan diet can meet these requirements.
One of the best ways for a plant-based diet to fully meet a dog’s nutritional requirements is by pairing them with proper supplementation. Adding these supplements can help reduce the risk of deficiencies.
They primarily provide the essential nutrients that may be lacking in a vegan diet. You must especially choose ones that provide vitamin B-12, L-carnitine, and taurine.
What to Add to Your Dog’s Vegan Diet
In a vegan diet, macronutrients and micronutrients should be available in amounts set by the AAFCO for vegan dog nutrition. Below are the ingredients you need to add to your dog’s vegan meal to be considered a balanced diet.
Your pups need ten essential amino acids (protein building blocks) in their diet. These are necessary for tissue maintenance and the production of enzymes and antibodies.
Animal proteins have higher quality proteins since they offer the correct amount a dog needs. Vegan protein for dogs, on the other hand, is often lower in one or more essential amino acids.
It can be easily amended by adding complementary plant protein sources to their vegan meal. For instance, pairing peas and oats can give your dog all the essential amino acids as they have different acid profiles that fully complement each other.
Fats or Oil
Aside from being a vital energy source, dietary fat can provide essential fatty acids your dogs need for various metabolic reactions. Your pet requires nutritional sources of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You can find these nutrients in vegetable oils, like flaxseed (high in omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid) and sunflower oil (a rich source of omega-6 linoleic acid).
Another great benefit of fats and oil in your dog’s vegan diet is that they can help maintain their lustrous coat. Hemp Seed oil and tahini can transform your dog’s coat within a few days.
Taurine and L-Carnitine
L-Carnitine and taurine are amino acids that canines acquire through their diets. Plant-based and vegan sources can produce both ingredients.
Taurine plays a crucial role in cardiac function, retinal function, growth, and reproduction. Currently, supplementation with vegan taurine is now an industry standard, even for meat-based kibbles.
The natural taurine in animal meat is often denatured during the heating process. They are re-added (usually in synthetic form) to avoid nutrient deficiency.
L-Carnitine is also something that dogs cannot synthesize. You can only find them in animal flesh — therefore, you will need to add this specific supplement to your pet’s vegan diet. You can find it in several commercial vegan meals.
Your dog has a higher protein requirement than you, so it is better to ensure that about 50% of its vegan meal is made from high-protein plant sources. The need for protein is why the Vegan Dog Nutrition Association suggests a meal with a base of lentils, peas, soybeans, and oats. One good source of protein is wheat meat!
Wheat meat, or Seitan, is a high-protein, saturated fat, and cholesterol-free vegan meat made from gluten-free flour. Developed hundreds of years ago by vegetarian Buddist monks, wheat meat is an excellent source of protein that you can give your dog as an occasional treat.
Mixing flour and water makes a dough. It is repeatedly rinsed to remove the starch, keeping only the stringy gluten or Seitan. The result is a savory, meat-tasting treat that naturally appeals to pets.
Beta-Carotene & Enzymes
Dogs convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A, a necessary nutrient that is hard to find elsewhere other than in plant-based diets. You need to include carrots, sweet potatoes, and other orange-colored root vegetables in your dog’s vegan diet, as they are vital sources of beta-carotene.
You may also include other vegetables (cut finely or mashed) for minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and fiber. Some good choices are pumpkin, yams, carrots, squash and small bits of Brussels, broccoli, cooked cabbage, and sprouts.
Numerous supplements on the market, like Green Mush and Prozyme, contain all enzymes that your dog needs.
Can Dogs Fully Digest Vegan Food?
The question is whether dogs can survive on a vegan diet. The answer is yes. Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat a variety of foods, including meat, fish, poultry, and plant-based sources such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains.
Dogs can digest plant-based food and get the necessary nutrients from them. A well-balanced vegan diet for dogs can provide them with the required amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, similar to commercial diets that contain meat.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that a fully vegan diet for dogs has potential risks. They might suffer from vitamin or mineral deficiencies, imbalances in amino acids, and inadequate protein intake. To address these concerns, supplements can be added to your dog’s vegan diet.
In summary, dogs can survive on a vegan diet, but it is essential to ensure that it is well-balanced and supplemented with essential nutrients. To offset these risks, you can include supplements to your pet’s vegan diet.
What If Your Dog Has An Allergy?
Typical allergens in dogs include soy, wheat, and animal meat, especially beef and chicken. If your dog has allergies, digestive problems, rashes, or other sensitivities, it may benefit from a diet that avoids these allergens. Some allergy-prone dogs experience a reduction or elimination of symptoms after switching to a balanced and hypoallergenic vegan diet.
To determine what your pet is allergic to, you can have them take an allergy test. Avoiding specific allergens will ensure your dog’s comfort and safety.
Although dogs can get a considerable portion of their nutritional requirements from plant-based meals, some essential amino acids are only present in animal flesh. Adding vegan dog vitamins and supplements to your pet’s daily meals can create a well-balanced vegan diet and ensure they do not have nutrient deficiencies.