Can dogs be vegetarian?

Via Waylon Lewis
on Nov 22, 2009
get elephant's newsletter

Picture 2562

Watching Seven Pounds today, starring Will Smith, there’s a scene where he laughs at the notion that a big dog could live on “steamed broccoli and tofu.” I’m thinking about feeding my dog, Redford, a rescue, vegetarian dog food. I already know he likes plenty of vegetarian foods—including grass, which he eats assiduously every day…but worry that it’s not natural, or healthy, for me to impose my ethics on his tummy.

Can dogs be vegetarian? I’ve checked out a bunch of sites, including PETA, but most seem pretty biased.

vegetarian dogs


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


8 Responses to “Can dogs be vegetarian?”

  1. swati jr* says:

    it is hard for us with our "spiritual" ideals to think that killing animals might be ok. it's true, domesticated animals are the first problem, but now that they are here and we are caring for them, we must honor their needs. canines are decidedly carnivorous and thrive on raw meat/veg/meaty bones. please feed your animals properly. it's the highest form of ahimsa.

  2. Monique says:

    Apparently they can be – so long as it is a lacto-ovo diet. Do check out the authoritative ¨Natural Health for Dogs & Cats¨ by Dr. Richard Pitcairn and Dr. Marty Goldstein´s books as well.

  3. swati jr* says:

    this book is quite outdated. he suggests a cooked diet, whereas most authorities now recognize this is not a great route to take for canines or felines.

  4. David Sanchez says:

    No. Dogs need to eat meat. It may be possible for them to survive and derive nutrition from vegetables, but it is by no means natural. If you are not comfortable with the responsibility of feeding your dog what it is meant to eat, you should show the animal more respect and not become its owner. If you TRULY appreciate animals and care about how they are treated, you would cater to the dogs natural needs – otherwise all of your "animal loving" is proven to be completely superficial.

    A dog will eat and enjoy most anything edible (and some things that are not) that you put in front of them. The dog eating/enjoying the food is no sign of it being the right food for the dog. Dogs often eat grass to induce vomiting, or to deal with digestive problems that they are experiencing.

    I'm not a meat advocate – in fact I have been a vegetarian for close to 20 years. I started my journey for my love of animals, and that love naturally extends to my dogs.

  5. alleycat33 says:

    Dogs are opportunistic omnivores, like humans. So yes, they can thrive as vegetarians.
    Although cats are 'obligate carnivores', with the right formulation & supplements, they can thrive on a plant-based diet as well. I have 4 cats that are living proof!

  6. alleycat33 says:

    also you want to give them 'real food' – steam those veggies & grains and see what kinds of flavors they like! My cats are fond of broccoli, spinach, nori and anything green

  7. Lisa says:

    We have EIGHT dogs, who have thrived for YEARS on plant-based meals exclusively. We have the comprehensive blood work results to prove it, not to mention a meat-eating vet, who thinks ea one is the picture of health & considers them among his healthiest patients. Their meals are diverse, nutrient rich, while providing plenty of protein.
    They ARE Domesticated – with a capital D. The majority of canines are far removed from any "omnivorous" ancestors or relatives. Our companion animals live posh, comfortable lives and don't have to avoid predators, travel long distances, endure tempestuous weather, etc., or necessarily eat meat.

  8. […] And: can dogs be vegetarian, and healthfully so? […]