My two darling dogs. The brown dog is Bonnie she is 2 years old and a ball of love and an eternal puppy. The white and tan is Biscuit she’s 8 this year and is a delicate gentle soul but a terrier through and through.
I’ve always loved dogs. I was brought up around dogs and they have always played a vital part in my life. The unconditional love they give is just so damn heartwarming. To me they are the perfect companion and I couldn’t live without one (wish I could live with many but two is my limit for now).
When we welcomed our second dog into our home I took a big long look at the dog food situation. I never thought about it before. Biscuit was fed supermarket, cheap brand dog food. It had added sugars, dyes and I don’t know what else. I never gave it a second thought until I heard of feeding raw. Then down the rabbit hole that is canine nutrition I went. As with anything I hear that sparks my interest I research and get as much information as I can.
I wanted to know how I should be feeding my pet dogs for their optimum health.
As a vegan active on social media I am highly aware that some vegans feed their cats and dogs vegan diets. So I wanted to know if this was an option for us.
In my research I have found no scientific evidence (if you have some please feel free to share in the comments) that dogs should be fed a plant based diet. Or that they biologically lend themselves to a plant based diet.
The judgement on whether they are omnivores or carnivores is still very much up in the air. Studies I have seen are 3 to carnivore and 2 to omnivore with at least one of the 2 being funded by a dog food company which would benefit from this to justify fillers in kibble.
Let’s look at the facts…
- They have a carnivorous jaw that moves up and down. A sideways motion like that of a chewing cow would cause dislocation when the prey fights to free itself.
- The domesticated dog has flesh ripping teeth. I had a wee poke around in my dogs mouth after finding this out and I was surprised to see even the molars are jagged. An omnivore such as a bear has flat molars for grinding plant matter. As do we. Dogs do not grind or even excessively chew their food but tend to gulp. I’ve certainly seen this in my dogs.
- They have a high acidic stomach similar to their carnivorous ancestor, the wolf. This is to enable raw meat, hide and bone to be broken down quickly and help destroy any bad bacteria.
- Dogs digestive tract is short like that of a carnivore. This short digestive tract makes it hard to digest plant matter. Fibrous plant matter passes quickly through a dog and they struggle to absorb the nutrients. Which is why the poo of a raw fed dog is small and compact and dogs fed an exclusive low quality kibble will have soft large stools.
- The dogs taste buds lends itself to a carnivorous diet with certain receptors for meat based proteins.
- The salvia of a dog is also designed to protect against bacteria present on raw meat.
- A dog has forward facing eyes with an excellent sense of smell lending itself to scavenging.
There have been, or rather there is, an evolution in the domesticated dog in that it has started to adopt omnivore like abilities in converting certain vitamins and minerals into ones it needs. Such as it’s ability to convert cysteine into taurine which is an ability cats do not have and why cats are classed as an obligate carnivore in that they need to consume meat protein to survive, or at least a synthetic taurine.
However, these abilities are only the start of its evolution. Physically it still has a long way to go.
Take the panda for example it is a carnivore. Physiologically lends itself to a carnivorous diet. However for whatever reason we don’t know it decided to convert to a plant based diet. Evolution wise it’s body hasn’t caught up and it is suspected that this is why it has trouble breeding and why their babies are so small because they are nutrient deficient.
What would dogs want to eat?
So given the choice of a Linda Mc sausage or a steak what will my dogs prefer? Hoesntly, I’ve no idea, inclined to say steak as there is a distinct difference to how a bowl of kibble is received and how a bowl of raw meat is received.
A study was done on puppies and diet. The conclusion was that puppies will grow up to have preferences to what the mother was fed during pregnancy and nursing. Then influence is also taken from what they are weaned with and the variety given during the puppy stage. This makes complete sense to me. Human children are the same. I couldn’t stop eating fish when I was pregnant and my son bloody loves the stuff (ethics on my flexitarian child another day). Children who eat a highly processed diet struggle with the taste of fresh fruit and veg…and sometimes vice versa.
Puppies whose mothers are fed on one type of kibble and then weaned on that same kibble will have a smaller palate for other foods.
Take for example Bonnie fed home cooked food and raw during weaning. Happily took raw liver off me. Biscuit had never had raw ever before wasn’t as keen but still adapted quickly.
Studying dogs in the wild those clever scientific folk found that all dogs will adopt a carnivorous diet when left to.theirniwn devices. Only taking plant matter or human food when given…by humans funnily enough.
Their inability to thrive in the wild is due to their domestication in that we have bred out the hunting characteristics and mothers aren’t given the opportunity or knowledge themselves to teach their puppies how to hunt.
Ethical brain hurting…
Here comes the ethical brain hurting bit.
I buy a dead chicken to feed to my dog. To take the life of one animal to feed another that I deem of higher value. I don’t necessarily think that but my actions say different. Perhaps it’s subconscious species disrcimation.
I refuse to eat the chicken nor buy the chicken for myself because I think I have no right to take the chickens life for my own sustenance. Yet my dog has a right!? Maybe my food chain goes dog, chicken, me. Which now I’ve said it, actually that is pretty much how I see it. We all have a favourite animal. We watch David Attenborough and shout for the cute deer to run from the lion. But the lions cubs will die without nourishment. Or those who cheer that the lion has made its kill and the cubs can thrive to grow and kill another day.
It’s the old vegan meme of the cat bringing in a dead bird and the human tells the cat off whilst eating a chicken.
Life is full of ethical confusion. Or rather just plane bloody confusion of all kinds.
So the way I see it is we have to learn the facts. Listen to both sides. Then get off the fucking fence and make a decision. It’s ok to change that decision later down the line when you learn something new but you can only act on what facts or beliefs you have to hand at that time.
So, if panda’s have adopted a plant based diet and are for the most part perfectly fine. Or ommivorous humans can adopt a plant based diet and be very healthy. Will my dogs thrive to optimum health on a plant based diet?
I honestly don’t think they will. I do think they’ll be perfectly fine, however, will they live a full life? Will they reach the age they should. Will feeding them a raw high meat diet help my jack cross’s dandruff issue and paw licking and biting. Will a low carb high meat diet help with my poodle cross hyperactivity. Will it help their concentration. Tame bonnies frizzy hair, help her gain weight. Help biscuit lose weight and reduce the shedding. The raw feeding community would definitely say yes. But the proof is in the pudding. My intention is to try feeding this way at least part of the time and keep trying to improve the frequency. Watch this space may be in 6 months time I will update on it one way or other.
The contradiction isn’t lost to me that I have gone plant based to improve my health and going high meat to try improve my dogs. But I do believe in species appropriate diet and feeding yourself or your dog on what evolution designed you to thrive on. Yes I am compromising my ethical stand point on contributing to the huge animal agriculture conglomerates but those are my ethical stand points not my dogs.
If you are interested in watching any of the videos I have watched please find the links below;
I highly recommend watching Dr Beckers videos.
Or these are quite concise of the facts..