Vegetarian or vegan diets sometimes are viewed controversially in humans, not to mention in dogs. Can you give your pet vegetarian dog food? Your dog is probably howling NOOOOOO and is trying to destroy your laptop so you do not read any further!

Would Dogo recommend giving vegetarian dog food? In this article, we will shortly review what you need to know.


Protein is a very important part of dog nutrition and a healthy balanced diet should include 18-25 g. crude protein (dry mass). The dog’s body can not store up protein like other nutrients. The excess is removed with urine. Therefore it is important that every day’s meal includes a sufficient amount of protein.

It is important to note that not all proteins are the same, and the quality of protein is equally important as quantity. Dogs require specific amino acids in their diet that are essential and cannot be produced by their bodies. Vegetarian dog diets can be a good source of essential amino acids if formulated carefully. However, it is important to note that some vegetarian protein sources like soybeans contain phytoestrogens, which can affect hormonal balance in dogs. Therefore, a balanced vegetarian diet for dogs should include various sources of protein to ensure adequate amounts of essential and non-essential amino acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Dogs are able to produce themselves about half of them, but 10 amino acids are essential and your dog should get it with food. Good source of essential amino acids for vegetarian dog diets are soybeans, eggs, algae, and rice.

While these sources provide essential amino acids, it is important to note that vegetarian diets may not provide enough taurine, an amino acid that is essential for dogs. Taurine is found mainly in animal-based protein sources such as meat, fish, and dairy products. Therefore, it is important to supplement a vegetarian dog diet with taurine to ensure that the dog receives adequate amounts of this essential amino acid.


Dogs, unlike people, cannot make vitamin D in their skin and they should receive it with food. When balancing a vegetarian diet for dogs, one should consider how much vitamin B, calcium and phosphor a dog receives. It is especially important in fast-growing puppies of larger breeds. Deficiencies in these elements and vitamins can lead to skeletal problems that would diminish a life quality later on. Dogs absorb vitamin D, B and calcium with phosphor better from meat and animal products than from plants.

To ensure that a vegetarian dog diet is nutritionally complete, it is recommended to incorporate vitamin and mineral supplements into the dog’s diet. Vitamin B12, for example, is found mainly in animal-based products, and it is important to supplement a vegetarian dog diet with this vitamin to avoid deficiencies. Calcium and phosphorus are also important minerals that should be included in a vegetarian dog diet. These minerals are essential for strong bones and teeth, and deficiencies can lead to skeletal problems that can diminish a dog’s quality of life later on. It is important to ensure that the dog’s diet provides adequate amounts of these minerals to avoid deficiencies.


Dogs are wolves

Yes,  dogs did descend from wolves but they are not wolves. A big study was conducted in 2012 that researched the dog domestication and it showed that more than 10 genes differ from the wild species of wolf and these genes are responsible for starch digestion. Dogs are able to break down starch from plants and digest the carbohydrates. Actually, this ability has probably played a great role in dog domestication.


Marek Sztu. Vegetarian Snack

“For dogs, certainly vegetarian and vegan diets can be done, but they need to be done very, very carefully. There is a lot of room for error, and these diets probably are not as appropriate as diets that contain at least some animal protein,” says Cailin Heinze, VMD, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. Dogs are omnivores and can adapt well to a vegetarian diet. If you decide to prepare food at home, we would suggest having a veterinary nutritionist go over your recipes if you have all the ingredients well balanced out. A small survey of 86 vegetarian dogs found that over 50 of the diets were deficient in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, zinc, vitamins D and B12. The risk for vegetarian dogs increases as their diet has less variety than one of humans.  Most of the people eat 3 different meals per day and snack in between on fruits, nuts, etc. This decreases the risk of deficiencies.

On the market, we see new brands emerging that prepare balanced vegetarian dog foods. However, consider only the suppliers that have gone through trials and meet AAFCO standards.

Be responsible

Whether your dog is intolerant to animal-derived protein or has liver, urine bladder problems, or it is your own belief to choose vegetarian dog food, it is possible to do it.  However, you should seek expert help in order to balance the diet well or buy commercially prepared balanced vegetarian food.

⚠️Please be aware, that cats have a very different metabolism than dogs. If you decide to feed your cat a meat-free diet, then consultation with a nutritionist is mandatory!

Fun fact! Bramble was a vegan dog that made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. She lived 27 impressive years. We do not know if the vegan diet contributed to her longevity, but at least we can say she is in the Guinness book.

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