Should You Feed Your Dog a Vegan Diet? Pros, Cons and Options


A dog vegan diet includes all plant-based diets that excludes meat, seafood, and all animal derived-products. This includes the removal of supplements derived from animals, honey, dairy, and eggs.

Meat free diets options for dog owners include:

  • Ovo-vegetarian diet: includes eggs, but removes all meat and dairy
  • Lacto-vegetarian diet: includes dairy, but removes meat and eggs
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet: removes meat, but includes diary and eggs

There are many reasons why dog owners will consider a vegan diet for their pets without feeding any meat. This includes:

Health benefits:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduce heart disease
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce cancer risk
  • Concern with food allergies
  • Liver disease
  • Urinary stones

Other benefits:

  • Moral or ethical concerns related to factory farming, environmental impact, the pet food industry,  or animal exploitation related to animal products

It is possible for dogs to meet nutritional requirements from vegetable sources foods without the use of animal protein.. A study of sled dogs demonstrated that a dog can maintain hematology parameters and excellent health when given a balanced vegetable-based diet.   The diet tested included soy proteins, corn and rice over a period of 16 weeks.(3

Dogs are companion animals that are able to convert plants to vitamin A, and digest many types of starch-based food ingredients.

Vegan Dogs Diet Pros and Cons


  • Can be therapeutic for some illnesses (listed above)
  • Dogs can digest nutrients from plans
  • Commercial foods are available that are AAFCO approved (dog nutrition industry group)


  • Risk of feeding too little protein
  • Creating a home-made diet is difficult without the help of a nutritionist
  • Nutrients easily provided in fish, dairy, poultry, and meat are harder to provide in a plant-based diet

Is it Healthy for a Dog to Follow a Vegan Diet?

Dog are carnivores that can digest plant-based foods. Creating a balanced vegan diet is a challenge for dog parents since they need to ensure that dogs are getting the right requirements and essential nutrients that dogs require:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • B vitamins
  • l-carnitine
  • Taurine
  • Essential amino acids

Most of these are easier to provide in a diet that contains animal proteins. Dogs have an easier time getting Vitamins D and A from plants.  Most vegan diets provide protein through legumes, other types of beans,  and tofu.

The amino acid lysine, which is essential for dogs, may not be insufficient quantities in grain-based diets alone. A compromise might be a diet with less meat.

Creating a Balanced Diet

Any new diet should be created by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to avoid any health risks and to meet the nutritional needs of your dog. These needs also vary based on your dog's age.  The nutrition will work with you on your vegan or vegetarian diet to ensure that your dog is getting the required amino acids. The nutritionist may also suggest non-essential amino acids in the form of a supplement to avoid any health problems.

Luckily, eating meat is not the only source of essential fatty acids. Pet owners can find. Like for human consumption, Essential fatty acids (such as omega 3, 6, 9)are found in both animal and plant sources.

Healthy fats and oils, such as those found in flaxseed, sunflower, and canola, are an essential part of any dog’s diet. Oils derived from plant sources provide a healthy mix of unsaturated fat (source of energy) and omega fatty acids -3, -6, -9, which are important for maintaining a radiant coat and healthy skin.

Commercial Dog Vegan Diet Options

When selecting commercial dog food, be sure to look for the AAFCO pet food statement on the bag. This statement indicates that diet formulation meets the requirements for a life state or has gone through AAFCO feeding trials to demonstrate that it is "complete and balanced."

Foods that are commercially available should indicate whether or not they are meant as a complete diet or complementary and require supplementation. 

Commercial Canine Vegan Diet Choices

here are several brands that are perfect for a meat-free diet, vegetarian or vegan diet. These choices contain all of the essential nutrients and are meant to act as the primary diet each day. Check each manufacturer yourself to determine if each conducted controlled feeding trials or has a staff with experienced food nutritionists and food scientists. 

Home Prepared Diets

We suggest working with a professional from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) or the European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN) if formulating a diet yourself. 

Risks of not doing this correctly include:

  • Poor coat and skin due to high-fiber diets and poor absorption of essential fatty acids
  • Zinc-deficient dermatosis due to  poor Zinc absorption

Take special care if feeding a growing dog, or a dog with a chronic medical condition. In practice you can feed a dog a successful vegan diet, that may include the use of synthetic supplements. 


  1. Axelsson E, Abhirami R, Arendt L. Maqboot K, et al.The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a start-rich diet. Nature 2013;495: 360-365.
  2. An experimental meat-free diet maintained hematological characteristics in spring-racing sled dogs. Brown WY, Vanselow BA, Redman AJ, Pluske JR. Br J Nutr 2009; 102:1318-1323., Stockman J, Fascetti A, Kass PH, Larsen JA. 
  3. Evaluation of recipes of home-made diet recipes for dogs. J Am Veterinary Medicine Association 2013; 242 (11): 1500-1505.