Feeding the dog vegan or vegetarian

More and more people are opting for a vegan or vegetarian diet. If the owner or mistress refrains from meat and animal products, the desire often arises to feed the dog vegetarian as well. Some owners want to completely do without animal ingredients in dog food. Therefore, american white shepherd the selection of vegan dog food on the shelves or in online shops is growing steadily. But is it healthy for the descendant of the wolf to feed him without meat? So much in advance: A meatless feeding is basically not unhealthy for your adult four-legged friend. This is proven by current scientific principles of animal-friendly dog nutrition. But what you should definitely pay attention to, you can read here.

What does a vegetarian or vegan diet mean?

In a vegetarian diet, the focus is on avoiding meat. All products for which an animal has to lose its life are deleted from the diet. Animal products such as milk and egg, on the other hand, are allowed. The vegan diet goes one step further: There are no animal products on the menu anymore. All components of the diet come from plant products.

Why is it possible to feed a dog vegetarian?

Just like us humans, dogs have a naturally defined nutritional requirement. Nutrients are indispensable for metabolism and thus also for the provision of energy. Without them, the vital processes in the body would not work. Therefore, dogs need to absorb a balanced amount of nutrients with daily feeding. In general, according to current scientific findings, it is not only decided whether these vital nutrients in dog nutrition come from sources of animal or plant origin. The only important thing is that the daily rations contain all the essential (absolutely necessary) nutrients that must be supplied to the animal with food.

The most important nutrients in dog food

For a healthy life, a dog needs various nutritional components – these include:


Proteins provide the building blocks for strong muscles and cell renewal as well as the production of messenger substances and hormones. To meet the daily protein needs of a dog, protein sources of different origins can be selected. A distinction must be made between protein sources of vegetable origin (e.B. soybeans or peas) and animal origin (e.B. meat or eggs).

Fats and oils

The fats and oils used in dog food come from plants (e.B flaxseed, olives, hemp) or from fish (e.B salmon). They provide valuable fatty acids for important processes in the body and a lot of energy.


Potatoes, but also rice, corn, and other cereals are often used as the most important sources of energy in the form of carbohydrates in dog nutrition. They are all of plant origin. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy, and they also provide the dog’s intestines with fiber.

Why can dogs live vegan?

Our domestic dogs have evolved over the course of evolution. Unlike their ancestors – the wolves – they are able to metabolize higher-carbohydrate meals and supply the vital nutrients they contain to the body. From a zoological point of view, dogs belong to the genus Carnivora (literally “carnivores”), i.e. the predators. However, not all animals of this genus must necessarily be pure carnivores. The panda, for example, is one of them and eats exclusively vegetarian – namely bamboo.

Dogs, on the other hand, are carnivorous omnivores. Their food spectrum is broad. Unlike strict carnivores – such as cats or ferrets – it is possible for dogs to use certain nutrients found only in plants. Dogs, for example, can convert beta-carotene into vitamin A thanks to their enzyme systems, while cats cannot. If the house tigers were given pure meals of carrots, they would develop a deficiency of vitamins. Therefore, an animal diet for cats is vital for survival. They lack the enzyme systems that help convert plant alternative nutrients into a form that can be used by metabolism. This distinguishes them from dogs.

The dog is therefore much more flexible with its metabolism and therefore very well able to cover its nutrient requirements with vegetable raw materials.

When are there any benefits to the vegetarian or vegan diet?

In the case of an adult dog that enjoys the best health and whose immune system is fully functional, there is basically nothing against a vegan or vegetarian diet. food for gsd a permanent vegetarian food intake is often even necessary for a medical indication such as meat intolerance, special allergies, or metabolic diseases.

When is a vegan or vegetarian diet not recommended for the dog?

However, there are different phases of life and diseases in which the dog should not be fed meatless.

Puppies are growing and need a lot of energy to mature into active and healthy dogs. Your nutritional needs are very special and should therefore be adapted to this important phase of life.

The same applies to bitches during pregnancy or lactation (lactation). As a rule, vegan feeding should be completely dispensed with here.

In the case of seniors or pre-sick dogs, caution is also required because of the special need for nutrients.

What to look for when buying vegan or vegetarian dog food?

Plant-based dog food, like those of animal origin, should be balanced and adapted to the special needs of the animal’s various stages of life. Meanwhile, there are vegan and vegetarian wet and dry foods on the market, which are based on the scientific findings of an animal-friendly dog diet.

 When choosing a full-fledged complete feed, make sure that the nutritional principles are met and that the composition is declared on the packaging. However, this is not so easy. Therefore, our tip: If the manufacturer can point out that the food was developed together with veterinarians specializing in animal nutrition and they confirm the suitability as vegetarian or vegan dog food, it will help you with the selection.

Can I use vegetarian BARFen?

Raw feeding (BARF) is also a popular dog diet in which meat is generally used. The thought: As a dog owner, you know exactly what goes into the feeding bowl of your favorite and are able to tailor the rations to the individual needs of the dog. Thanks to modern BARF menus – such as building block systems – raw feeding is easier today than it was some time ago. However, most of these system feedings are not yet designed for meatless food. And here lies the challenge of a vegan BARF menu for the dog: With a calculator, the right composition and the need for essential amino acids would have to be determined exactly, which is a difficulty with plant components. Accordingly, a purely plant-based dog diet must always be very well thought out. For this reason, we generally advise against your own preparation of a vegan dog food.

And finally, a vegan diet of dogs has no health benefits for the animal. If your dog is healthy, fully grown and nothing else speaks against it, a meatless dog diet with a full-fledged complete food tested for the optimal nutrient composition is possible.

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