Do you want to understand your client’s decision in turning their dog plant-based?

I never dreamt that I would be promoting plant-based feeding as an ordinary vet and Mum who at the age of 52 became an eco-warrior! It all started with me starting to pick up rubbish thrown out by cars on my morning run. We live in a rural town in the UK surrounded by fields, but the amount of rubbish visible began to catch my eye, so I began ‘plogging’.

I donned some gloves, had a balaclava (for the cold but I did look highly suspicious!) and headtorch, and I picked up any tins or bottles or rubbish I could find. I found it quite therapeutic in a strange way as I imagined hedgehogs being able to find their insects and worms as sometimes I would dig out bottles I could feel under my feet when I had to stand on a narrow kerb to let the cars go past.

Nature is my headspace and like all of us, it inspires and calms and exhilirates me. This coincided with me wanting to start Slimming Pet classes as I had had one particularly fraught day where I had to put 4 dogs to sleep due to obesity related conditions. I vowed to my family that I was going to do something about it, and I even joined out local Slimming World to understand the concept and try to recreate it for dogs.

To make a success of this, I obsessively threw myself into the fascinating world of dog nutrition. I did every course going and contacted the UK’s top vet nutritionists. They wished me well with it and said that I would struggle to achieve owner compliance…….I did and my classes never filled, in fact no one showed an interest, but the seed was sown.

I was now hooked on dog nutrition and from all the research I had done, plant-based feeding whether dry complete, tinned or homemade proved to be the safest and kindest way to feed our dogs.

I went cold turkey and to the horror of my vet husband after eating full meat-based diet for 50 years of my life; I turned not just myself plant-based, but our family dog too. My aim was to find the best food possible to feed him.

It took 6-8 months of intense research but my

Plant-based Dogs – A healthy lifestyle or going against nature?

An excellent article written by a vet with a Master’s degree in nutrition explaining about dogs being omnivores and that it is safe to feed them a vegan diet

Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals

Simple Summary

Many owners of companion animals are interested in vegetarian diets for their animals, as concerns increase about the consequences of animal farming, for health, animal welfare, and the environment. However, are vegetarian or vegan diets for cats and dogs nutritionally balanced and healthy? This article comprehensively reviews the evidence published to date from four studies that have examined the nutritional adequacy of vegetarian diets for cats and dogs. To obtain additional information, we surveyed 12 pet food companies detailed in the most recent study.
Plant-based animal diets: facts and myths
Thousands of vegans have companion animals, or care for rescued cats or dogs. What a vegan should feed them, however, remains a contentious point of debate. Andrew Knight, a European veterinary specialist in animal welfare science, ethics and law, and a professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics at the University of Winchester, tells us more
Health effects of vegan diets


Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease. However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.

Bramble the Collie's Secrets to Living to Age 25
You may have heard her story before. Bramble the amazing Border Collie lived to just over 25 years old and is known as one of the world’s oldest dogs. Here is an interview with Anne Heritage the owner of the remarkable Bramble.
Plant-based diets for dogs

An article written in December 2018 and published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine on the need to balance a plant-based diet for dogs and the nutrients needed.

Commercial Plant-Based Diets for Dogs
In accordance with the current understanding of pet nutrition, the importance of nutrients, not ingredients, is emphasised.

Can you feed a cat or dog a vegetarian/vegan diet?

Both animals can be fed a vegetarian diet, although neither is a vegan by nature — dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores. While both dogs and cats belong to the class carnivora, this doesn’t mean a lot, so does the panda bear which is near vegan.

Vegetarian canine diets - Dr Andrew Knight

The death and suffering inflicted upon approximately fifty billion chickens, pigs, sheep, cows, and other animals, both intensively and extensively farmed, who are slaughtered annually, and upon similar numbers of intensively farmed or wild-caught fish, in order to fulfil the desire of some human beings for meat, has been thoroughly documented; as have the deleterious environmental impacts of both intensive and extensive animal farming.

Plant-based (vegan) diets for pets: A survey of pet owner attitudes and feeding practices


People who avoid eating animals tend to share their homes with animal companions, and moral dilemma may arise when they are faced with feeding animal products to their omnivorous dogs and carnivorous cats. One option to alleviate this conflict is to feed pets a diet devoid of animal ingredients—a ‘plant-based’ or ‘vegan’ diet.

Dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet

A fascinating study proving how  mutations in key genes occurred allowing increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. These results indicate that early ancestors of modern dogs could thrive on a diet rich in starch which constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.

How to Safely Veganise Your Cat or Dog by Andrew Knight

Cats and dogs are carnivores, right? Not quite. Dogs may be biologically classified as omnivores, due to their ability to subsist on a mixed diet of animal and plant-based material in their natural environments.

In contrast, cats are classified as obligate carnivores, because their evolutionary anatomical, physiological and biochemical adaptations to a carnivorous lifestyle prevent them from deriving substantial benefit from the plant-based material available in their natural environments. Both wild cats and dogs do consume plant material, primarily sourced from the gastrointestinal tracts of their consumed prey.

But doesn’t meat allow greater fulfilment of natural feeding behaviour? Once again, this claim warrants closer scrutiny. When wild cats or dogs kill prey, they gorge as much as possible to prevent consumption by competitors. This is followed by uncertain periods of hunger. Yet, commercial meat-based diets comprise assorted body parts from animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens and fish, animals that cats and dogs never naturally eat, heavily laced with unnatural additives of questionable safety (Knight & Leitsberger 2016). These are dispensed from tins or packets at predictable times daily, with kibble sometimes available around the clock. The result bears very little resemblance to natural feeding behaviour.

Animal guardians frequently microchip, vaccinate, de-worm, de-flea and de-sex their furry companions, and confine them indoors at night, because they correctly believe such steps are necessary to safeguard health. Why then, do so many resist feeding healthy vegan  diets to cats and dogs on the basis that it is ‘unnatural’?

After all, cats, dogs and indeed all species, have requirements for specific dietary nutrients, not ingredients. There is no scientific reason why a diet comprised only of plant, mineral and synthetically- based ingredients cannot be formulated to meet all of the palatability, nutritional and bioavailability needs of the species for which they are intended. In fact, a growing number of commercially- available vegan companion animal diets aim to do exactly this and studies demonstrate that animals maintained on nutritionally sound vegetarian and vegan diets can be perfectly healthy (Knight & Leitsberger 2016).

If a diet is nutritionally inadequate

  • whether vegetarian or meat-based
  • disease is likely to result eventually. Hence use of a nutritionally complete and reasonably balanced commercial diet or of a nutritional supplement added to a home-made diet, is essential, to prevent disease and safeguard health.

Regular urine acidity monitoring is also important to detect urinary alkalinisation, with its consequent potential for urinary stones, blockages and infections,  that may result from a vegan diet, in a small minority of cases. Urinary alkalinisation may be corrected via a range of dietary additives.

Additionally, some studies have indicated that  neither  meat-based nor vegan diets are always formulated consistently. Accordingly, guardians may wish to consider gradually transitioning their pets onto different brands or diets, every few months, in the hope that any deficiencies will at least differ between different diets.

As with all companion animals, guardians should also  monitor  the health of their animals on a regular basis, including through regular checks of bodyweight, activity level and demeanour.

Although checks should  normally occur at least weekly, this should be an iterative process, with assessments as often as required. Any problems, such as progressive weight loss or more obvious signs of illness such as adverse coat changes, vomiting or diarrhoea, should trigger a veterinary examination; which should, in any event, occur at least annually. Owners should consider routine blood screenings and urine tests during such wellness checks and in the case of illness (Knight & Leitsberger 2016).

Great patience and persistence may  be required when transitioning animals onto new diets. Changes are best made gradually, e.g., by feeding a 90{9b26eb44abcd5a26fcad8be2905fe7e84a7a487ef24e453142a20b4f73c0a375}/10{9b26eb44abcd5a26fcad8be2905fe7e84a7a487ef24e453142a20b4f73c0a375} old/new dietary mixture for a few days, then 80{9b26eb44abcd5a26fcad8be2905fe7e84a7a487ef24e453142a20b4f73c0a375}/20{9b26eb44abcd5a26fcad8be2905fe7e84a7a487ef24e453142a20b4f73c0a375}, and so on. This allows an appropriate transition of digestive enzymes and intestinal micro-organisms, minimising adverse reactions such as abdominal discomfort, flatulence and diarrhoea (Knight & Leitsberger 2016).

Guardians should clearly demonstrate that they consider the new diet just as edible as the old (without possibly warning or alarming their pet by making a fuss). They should not be concerned if animals eat around new food at first.

Simply having it in close proximity  will help create the necessary mental association, as will mixing the food thoroughly. The addition of odiferous (the sense of smell is very important) and tasty additives, such as nutritional yeast, vegetable oil, nori flakes  and  spirulina, can all help, as well as gently warming the food. Offered food should always be fresh. Gradual change and persistence are the most important factors for transitioning resistant animals and using tactics such as these, the most stubborn of animals have been successfully transitioned onto vegan diets (Knight & Leitsberger 2016).

Such diets have reportedly been associated with a range of benefits, such as improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control,  increased overall health and vitality, arthritis regression, diabetes regression, cataract resolution, and decreased incidences of cancer, infections and cancers. Few controlled population studies exist, although those published to date confirm the potential for cats and dogs to be healthy and active on nutritionally sound vegetarian and vegan diets (Knight & Leitsberger 2016).



Knight, A., & Leitsberger, M. (2016). Vegetarian versus meat-based diets for companion animals. Animals, 6(9), 57.

Your Dog's Nutritional Needs

A science-based guide for pet owners

Food Allergies in Dogs and Cats

This article discusses adverse food reactions, hypoallergenic diets, the most common allergens in dogs and cats and therapy

This is the most important page in the article on page 263 as our vegan homemade recipe contains NONE of the most common allergens :

Most common food allergens in dogs

FEDIAF The European Pet Food Industry Nutritional Guidelines

For Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs

How much would giving up meat help the environment?

Going vegan for two-thirds of meals could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60{9b26eb44abcd5a26fcad8be2905fe7e84a7a487ef24e453142a20b4f73c0a375}

Multiple health and environmental impacts of foods


Food choices are shifting globally in ways that are negatively affecting both human health and the environment. Here we consider how consuming an additional serving per day of each of 15 foods is associated with 5 health outcomes in adults and 5 aspects of agriculturally driven environmental degradation.

Stop eating fish. It’s the only way to save the life in our seas

Unhindered by regulation, driven by greed, the fishing industry is the greatest threat to our oceans. We must take action

Vegetarian crocodiles once roamed the world

A lesson in not stereotyping on the basis of modern examples

Plant powered dog food summit

Join 17 global experts as they reveal the facts about meat-based diets and rising canine chronic diseases and show you how to feed your best friend a nutritious, compassionate plant-based diet.

Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet George Monbiot

Scientists are replacing crops and livestock with food made from microbes and water. It may save humanity’s bacon

Diet Shaped Dog Domestication

Further proof that dogs are omnivores is this very interesting article about how dogs have evolved alongside us and their digestive processes have evolved too.

They now produce longer chains of specific digestive enzymes that are adapted for digesting starches and grains – not meat.

Farmageddon in Pictures: How our food choices are damaging the planet and what you can do to help

“A devastating indictment of cheap meat and factory farming. Don’t turn away: it demands reading and deserves the widest possible audience”- Joanna Lumley OBE

dogs go plant based heart and paw

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