How to Put Your Dog on a Vegetarian Diet

By Susan Paretts


While most dog foods contain protein from meat sources, you can switch your dog to a vegetarian diet if it contains sufficient amounts of other types of protein. As omnivores, dogs can live on a meatless diet made up of vegetables, eggs, beans and dairy products like cheese. With a slow transition to his new food, your dog can acclimate to his new diet with little gastrointestinal distress. Monitor your dog through this process and during the initial transition to see that he tolerates his new food well and does not have any food allergies to the vegetarian diet.

Step 1

Speak with your veterinarian about the ingredients in the food you plan to feed to your dog. Ask her what the amounts of nutrients, not provided by vegetarian sources, are needed to supplement your dog's diet. Homemade vegetarian foods will require specific supplementation with vitamins, amino acids and minerals.

If your dog suffers from a chronic, debilitating condition such as kidney disease or diabetes, ask your veterinarian if a meatless, lower-protein diet is appropriate for him.

Step 2

Purchase ready-made vegetarian dog food, which usually requires no supplementation, or make the food yourself. Choose a commercially made vegetarian diet that has been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials to ensure it is nutritionally complete for your dog, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. AAFCO conducts food trials to ensure that a dog food contains all of the necessary ingredients to sustain a healthy dog.

If making the food, add pre-made vegetarian dog food supplements, typically found in pet supply stores or through an Internet retailer. Ask the retailer if these supplements have been approved by a veterinarian or AAFCO.

Step 3

Slowly introduce the new food to your dog over the period of two weeks to a month. This will lessen any stomach upset in reaction to the new food. Feed your dog 1/4 of a portion of the new food mixed in with 3/4 of a portion of his existing food. Increase the amount of new food, and decrease the amount of old food, by 1/4 of a portion every three to five days, depending on how your dog reacts to the new food.

Transitioning to a canned variety of vegetarian food may take less time than switching to a dry version because canned food smells more appetizing to a dog.

If, at any point, your dog has loose stool or stomach upset, slow the process down and allow for a few extra days for each transition.

Step 4

Tempt your dog to try the new food, especially in larger amounts, by sprinkling grated cheese or chopped, hard-boiled eggs on top. These vegetarian ingredients provide extra protein for your dog and will encourage him to try the new food.

Step 5

Take your dog to a veterinarian to have a complete blood panel performed after one or two months on his new diet. This test will evaluate whether your dog is getting the nutrients he needs from his new food. The doctor will also physically examine your dog to evaluate his weight and coat for any signs of distress due to the new diet. Continue to monitor your dog's health with a veterinarian every six months.
Comments (8)
May 5, 2012 RedDexter
What a nonsense! Why would anyone want to make dog a vegetarian?
May 14, 2012 ChiChiMoMo3
Thank you for this article, as there is not a whole lot of information out there for vegetarian dogs. My Maddie has severe allergies and cannot tolerate any meat. Finding the best diet for her was a struggle, but when her body started rejecting her dog food we did whatever we could to find the best food for her. At one point I thought I was going to have to cook for her everyday, which made me nervous that she wouldn’t get all the nutrients she needed, then we found a natural vegetarian formula dog food by Natural Balance. She can digest it and I know she’s getting all the vitamins, minerals and proteins she needs. She is now a happy, healthy vegetarian dog!
Jan 10, 2013 cledwards
Certain conditions require dogs to be on a vegetarian diet. My puppy is a Liver Shunt dog. This is one of those conditions.
Apr 11, 2013 SuzanPhelps
I cant believe a found an article on this subject. Our dog ended up on a vegetarian diet in a round about way. She suffered from severe food allergies, the condition caused itching and chewing to the point it created soars. Under a veterinarian's supervision we began removing various ingredients from her diet. Eventually the diet's only meat was a small amount of chicken that she showed little interest in so I subbed in eggs. As the article indicates blood work is important, our dog's test showed something called a high c reactive protein count. We added a supplement from VitaHound for dogs with food allergies and her skin and coat is puppy good.
Jun 29, 2013 sandra.trusting
Suzan, Our Blue Heeler thrives on the VitaHound supplement. Before we added it to his diet he had digressed physically, however I really was concerned when his temperament became mean, he lost his playful soul. The VitaHound supplement provided 100% relief to his digestive problems that caused him to suffer from severe food allergies. Most important I got my companion back.
Feb 7, 2014 vegandogs
V-dog food is a wonderful option for those interested in feeding their companion animal a healthy, plant-based diet free of cruel factory farming derived animal products. Domestic dogs are no longer wolves as they have evolved over tens of thousands of years and therefore can digest and thrive on starches. Wolves cannot. Research studies are on the v-dog website.
Apr 17, 2014 Cat Lane
There are truly very few conditions - even liver-related - that require a dog to stay on a plant-based diet forever. Dogs are not truly omnivores, they are preferential carnivores, and they do best with animal foods in the diet. There are several other errors in this article; for example, we only use low protein with advanced renal disease, and definitely NOT with diabetes.Those are old-school ideas that more current veterinary research has discounted. And most importantly - any vegetarian diet has to be carefully supplemented, better to have a professional formulate for you if you insist on feeding this way. Proper preparation of the beans and grains can help reduce anti-nutrient factors, but the combination of high phytate and lectins etc with low calcium, zinc, iron can prove deleterious in a big way, over time. Just a few comments I felt needed to be made. thepossiblecanin
Aug 28, 2017 Luna&Maya
They can't eat cheese, they would have stomach problems, my dog almost died because of CHEESE! I mean this is my dog, but I don't know about other dogs, they are all different.
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