Vegetarian Food for Dogs – Is it Safe?

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Statement from Dr. Melling: It is not surprising that some pet parents have expressed concern over my plant-based diet for dogs class at Oryana. Many of us feel very strongly about the food choices we make for ourselves and our pets. Our feelings about diet are often as sensitive a topic as religion and politics!

I am not suggesting that there is one diet that is best for all dogs. However, what I am stating as fact is that there is both nutritional research from scientists as well as proof from pet parents that dogs can thrive on a variety of different diets, including a plant-based diet. While it is true that dogs are indeed descended from wolves, they have adapted to live with humans over so many centuries that their digestive tracts can handle a great deal of variety, from meat-based to plant-based meals. For anyone who is interested in the research behind the nutrition, there is a good article in Science Magazine that starts out by saying: Fido may prefer steak, but his digestive system is also geared up for rice and potatoes. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that dogs have evolved to eat a more varied diet than their wolf ancestors. The shift parallels genetic changes seen in people and bolsters the idea that dogs and humans share similar evolutionary stories.

The purpose of my presentation at Oryana is not to criticize those who choose to continue feeding their dogs a diet containing meat. Rather, it is to offer knowledge, instruction, and encouragement to pet parents who are already eating a plant based diet themselves so that they may understand how to share these meals with their pets in a healthful way.

Here is the link to the study: Diet Shaped Dog Domestication