Dog Goes Vegetarian, Loses 50 pounds

 

Travis Oser 13 Year old Vegetarian Labrador Retriever

People choose what they eat based on their belief system, which can include health, environmental, cultural or religious ideals; decisions that carry over to what they feed their family and their pets.

In addition to health, ecological and religious concerns, vegetarians and particularly vegans are repulsed by meat consumption and driven by compassion for animals, non-violence and economics.

Oftentimes the more distance we place between ourselves and anything the more objective we become. People sometimes choose a vegetarian lifestyle for one reason, health, religion, or animal rights and later connect with other reasons for doing so along the way.

A 2006 report from the National Research Council stated that a vegetarian diet as long as it contains sufficient protein and is supplemented with Vitamin D is healthy for dogs. Commercial dry food products provide the high levels of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals necessary for their dietary needs.[1]

Vegans and vegetarians, who have already removed themselves from the mainstream food carrousel, are perhaps more focused on avoiding unhealthy food for their animals. One study reported that 100 percent of people with vegetarian cats were themselves vegetarian.[2]

While the nutritional needs of dogs are easily met with a balanced vegan diet, the vegan cat necessitates the inclusion of certain supplements or specially formulated cat food. For cats the vegan diet can be done successfully, but cats are carnivores and the pet parent must supplement their diet with amino acids, L-Carnitine and Taurine.

I have been vegetarian since 1971 and vegan since 1990 and in all that time, my dogs have always thrived on a healthy vegetarian diet and it has never caused any digestive  issues.  I introduce my dogs to the food initially with white rice and then brown rice, which becomes part of the meal at least once a day, while adding in the kibble and other foods gradually.

I adopted Travis nine years ago from the Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue organization. He is a sweet boy who at the time weighed 120 pounds, very overweight even for a Lab.  I chose vegan for Travis because it is as healthy for him as it is for me.

Veterinarians prescribe a vegetarian diet for dogs with allergies and skin problems and for weight loss because it is effective. Travis lost almost 50 pounds in less than seven months and his coat became silky soft right away.  Everyone remarks about his super soft coat, even children.

Travis is now 13 years old, weighs about 70 pounds and like any Lab, loves food. I add whatever I am eating to his bowl, veggies, tofu, tempeh, soup – he loves soup, and okara.  Okara is the pulp left from soymilk making that is high in quality protein, fiber-rich and my dogs all just loved it!

Canines need a higher level of protein in their diet than humans and that can be easily satisfied with any of the commercial vegetarian brands. Vegetarian kibble can sometimes contain vitamins from animal sources or eggs, but not meat. My animal companions eat vegetarian kibble and all kinds of vegan food.

Quinoa is high in complete protein and hypoallergenic and Pet Guard has an organic, quinoa-based dry food with veggies and cranberries that’s also rich in omega fatty acids. Travis thinks it is really tasty and likes Pet Guard vegan canned food when I serve it, too! Pet Guard is the company that makes the popular Mr. Pugsly and Mr. Barkley vegan biscuits.

Vegetarian Dog Food

Pet Guard, Natural Balance, AvoDerm, Nature’s Recipe, Purina Pro Plan

Vegan Dog Food

V-Dog, Halo Vegan Garden Medley for Dogs, Evolution Pet Foods, Wysong, Vegepet, AmiDog, Pet Guard

Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV. Follow Marie on Twitter

 


[1] http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/banr/miscellaneous/dog_nutrition_final_fix.pdf

 

[2] Wakefield, LA; Shofer, FS; Michel, KE (2006). “Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 229 (1): 70–3.