“My dog is a vegan”.
“My dog is a vegetarian”.
“My dog loves her fruits and veggies”.
“I don’t make my dog eat vegan, she just loves it”.
“Dogs are omnivores and my dog eats everything”.
Have you heard any of these statements? I have and I find them very disturbing. How about this instead:
“My dog is a carnivore and she eats meat, offal and bones”.
I stated this in a recent Dog Gut Summit that I decided to attend hoping there might be some new information there. People responded with shock. “You don’t feed any plants. Just meat?” (sigh)
I was very dismayed to see so many of these “So called holistic Veterinarians”1 promoting a plant based diet. So I decided to go down a dark rabbit hole and see what some of these “experts” are promoting as a healthy diet for dogs.
Let’s start with some quotes from “vegan feeding experts”.
First from Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, who graduated with a PHd in Companion Animal Nutrition from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine of Saskatchewan.
“Unlike cats, dogs are able to digest, absorb and utilize the nutrients in a vegan diet. The amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat in a complete and balanced vegan diet is similar to many commercial diets that contain meat. The primary ingredients in a vegan diet, grains and pulses (peas and lentils), provide a mixture of protein, carbohydrate and fat. The grinding and cooking of these ingredients during kibble production makes these ingredients highly digestible.”
Let’s look at the first sentence.
“Unlike cats, dogs are able to digest, absorb and utilize the nutrients in a vegan diet”
Unless dogs have somehow developed a chambered stomach to ferment these plants, ( more on fermentation in a future blog) and a much longer digestive tract to digest and absorb them, they are not getting much nutrition from a vegan diet. A dog does not have a chambered stomach, which means they were not designed to eat huge amounts of plants. They are not a cow. Cows, and other ruminant animals, have a chambered stomach so they can ferment the vegetation. In short, they have a fermentation tank full of microbes. Dogs don’t. It is as simple as that.
Dogs have 42 teeth. They consist of incisors, canine, premolars and molars. All of their teeth are pointed and none of them are flat. A dog’s mouth only moves up and down when they chew, unlike humans and other mammals who grind their food. Think of a cow with her flat molars designed for chewing its cud with a circular movement of the mouth. Dog’s jaws just go up and down They rip, tear and shred their food. It goes straight from the mouth down the esophagus and into the stomach.
Dr Lyn Thomson, A New Zealand vet says:
“Meat protein stimulates strong stomach acidity (by triggering the production of hydrochloric acid in acid-secreting cells within the stomach). Carbohydrates do not stimulate strong stomach acidity. A complex cascade takes place when a dog or cat ingests food, put simply: 80% of the gastric juices secreted are a direct result of receptors in the stomach detecting the presence of meat-based proteins. This keeps the stomach at a very low pH of around 1-2. This low stomach pH is important because digestive enzymes work best in an acidic environment. The acidity in the stomach will sterilize ingested pathogens”2
When a dog eats carbohydrates, sugar molecules are formed in the mouth making the saliva slightly more acidic therefore increasing the bacterial load, forming plaque. Plaque can lead to periodontal disease and those very expensive dental cleanings. They have very little amylase in their saliva so the pancreas has to overproduce to digest all the carbs.
The next line from Dr. Adolphe,
“The primary ingredients in a vegan diet, grains and pulses (peas and lentils), provide a mixture of protein, carbohydrate and fat. The grinding and cooking of these ingredients during kibble production makes these ingredients highly digestible.”
Does she actually know how kibble is made? Part of the process of making dog food is extrusion. Webster’s dictionary describes this as “to force, press, or push out: to shape by forcing through a die”. Extrusion is done at high heat. During these processes carcinogenic toxins are formed. One is called Heterocyclic Amines which form when proteins are treated and damaged at high heat. The second one is Acrylamides which is another carcinogenic toxin formed when starches are processed at high heat. It is well known that carcinogens cause cancer. It is also well known that cancer feeds on carbohydrates. Why would you feed a food that causes cancer and also feeds cancer? Is it any wonder that dogs have the highest rate of cancer of any mammal on the planet? I have no desire to feed my dogs anything that has been treated at such a high heat as to cause this damage. If the proteins are damaged, then they will damage my dog. This does not make what little nutrition is left in this so called food, more digestible.
And lastly, this statement:
“Animal proteins are considered high quality proteins because they provide all of the essential amino acids in the correct amounts required by dogs. Plant proteins are often lower [or absent] in one or more essential amino acid”
Dr. Adolphe has just proven my case with this statement. Animal proteins are superior because they contain all of the amino acids while plants don’t. Why give your dog an inferior protein that you have to work out what to pair with what to make it complete. Just give them the real deal. They are animals that were designed to eat animals. Their bodies recognize the protein and know exactly how to use it. And the protein from animals is bio- available to your dog where plants are not. More of that in a future blog.
Lew Olson, PhD, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, states it perfectly:
“Trying to feed a cat [dog]a vegan diet would be like me feeding my horses meat. You’re taking a whole species of animal and trying to force it to eat something that it isn’t designed to handle.” 3
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feed my dog an adequate diet with inferior protein when I can feed a great diet with superior protein they can thrive on.
It is wonderful to feed your animal plant food, as long as you run it through a ruminant animal first.
In future posts I will be talking about the microbiome, how ruminant animals digest plant foods and some of the misconceptions about vegan vs. meat diets that are out there.
So buckle up buttercup. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
1.Dr. Jeannie Thomason
2.Dr. Lyn Thomson
3.Lew Olson, PhD, author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs