Is vegetarian diet safe/good for dogs?

by Healthy Barks Social August 26, 2022 5 min read

Is vegetarian diet safe/good for dogs?

Issues with Vegetarian Diets for Dogs 

More and more people are shifting to veganism these days. There can be various reasons for driving this shift,

A. Ethical reasons

B. Health-Related

C. Environmental

D. Animal Rights.

We can hear stories all around us of hardcore non-vegetarians taking this step towards becoming pure vegetarians.  

The individuals who are compelled towards a vegetarian diet also want others around them to adapt to the same. Hence, vegetarian pet owners often want their pets to be vegetarians too. According to a report published byGlobal Data, a leading data and analytics company, a full 70% of the world’s population is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether.

Just like humans, is adapting to a meat-free diet a wise decision for our dogs? 

Is Vegetarian diet good for dogs?

Today’s dog food poses significant health concerns for our furry friends. We will cover health concerns caused by kibble (most commonly consumed dog food) in our next blog. 

It becomes extremely imperative that we understand dogs can’t function based on an all-vegetarian diet or an all meat-based diet (of course, dogs are not wolves). What a dog requires in order to stay fit and healthy is a blend of essential nutrients, meat, fruits and vegetables in appropriate quantities, customized to meet their specific needs. 

Now, let us take a closer look at the pitfalls of Vegetarian diets for Dogs.


Humans and Dogs are different creatures with different needs 

Yes, our furry friends are quite different from us. They have specific requirements that help them maintain their health and aids in the functioning of the immune system. While we may think it’s harmless to share our dietary choices with our fur babies, it can actually turn out to be dangerous.

Well, there has been a reinvention in the dog food space. Foods providing wholesome nutrients and made with ingredients that are sourced ethically are on the rise. Dog parents need the awareness that the food that they are feeding their dogs needs to be complete, encapsulating all the amino acids (the small molecules proteins are built from) essential for their dogs.

Is Vegetarian diet good for dogs?

The four-legged ones have very specific requirements based on their breed, age, size, and sex. Make sure you are feeding your dogs a diet with personalized nutritional levels otherwise, they can suffer from a lack of essential nutrients. After all, it all comes back to feeding a balanced diet to your dogs.

A wellness veterinarian talks aboutFeeding Pets a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet.


Dogs need essential amino acids 

Dogs do need essential amino acids found in protein in order to thrive, maintain good health and get proper nutrition. It is important for maintaining muscle health, bone health, and other tissues. Often, only vegetarian diets do not fulfil the protein requirements or the amino acids needed by your dog. Hence, dogs require meat protein in their diet to avoid health issues in the long run.

Is Vegetarian diet good for dogs?

Health issues like heart diseases, kidney, and liver conditions, cancer, allergies and skin irritation are common in dogs who do not get essential elements in their diet. While certain amino acids are already present in a dog’s body, others need to be fed through the diet. 

However, while feeding a good amount of protein sounds like a good thing, excessive protein intake can be harmful to a dog’s health, especially dogs with kidney disease and senior dogs. Similarly, feeding too little protein to a pup can be another danger. Deficiencies of any of the essential amino acids can show symptoms of weakness, weight loss, and a rough and dull-looking coat.  It is crucial for your dog’s appearance and activity/energy levels. 

Dogs do best with a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.


Effect of Vegetarian Diet on the Gut 

Feeding dogs a no-meat diet can be risky.According to WebMD, dogs process nutrients a lot more differently than people do. The gut is a relevant player when it comes to considering a diet for your dog since the gut is responsible for 70% of your dog’s immune system. It's a defense mechanism against toxins, absorbing nutrients that fuel the dog’s body to survive and fight against the ageing process, promoting a healthier and longer life. 

Is Vegetarian diet good for dogs?

A healthy gut is extremely crucial for your dog’s health. 

Well, as the DVM (doctorate in veterinary medicine) PhD Randy Kidd says,“No Guts, No Glory!”

Lectins (sugar-binding proteins) act as natural anti-parasitics and antifungals for plants. Lectins are a natural defense system for plants but can be extremely negative for your dog, resulting in damage to the gut lining, causing allergies and chronic inflammation in the dog. 

Proteins found in grains can damage your dog’s intestinal lining. The synthetic compounds found in grains to protect the plants from pest are highly un-absorbable and can impair your dog’s proper assimilation of nutrients.


A lot of Room For Error

Certainly, vegetarian diets for dogs come with a lot of room for error. No matter how compelled we might be to forgo meat in our dog’s diet and switch it to a vegetarian one, we always end up compromising on one or the other essential nutrients. 

Is Vegetarian diet good for dogs?

If handled incorrectly, a vegetarian or a plant-based diet leads to health problems in dogs. Pet parents need to be cautious and pay close attention to what the dog really needs. Their beliefs can be personal choices that need not be extended to pets.

According to theAssociation of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), an average adult dog requires about 18% protein necessary for proper growth and development. It is truly impossible to meet this percentage from an only plant-based diet for dogs.

Moreover, proteins derived from meat like collagen, keratin, and elastin are vital for their skin, muscles, joints, and a shiny coat. 


Bottom Line 

To achieve the right balance of nutrients, pet parents need to understand that dogs require a blend of ingredients including vegetables, cereals, meat, fruits, vitamins and minerals. A vegetarian-only diet cannot possibly fulfil that without any compromise on nutritional quality and palatability. A diet “complete” with correct nutrients in the correct proportions is recommended for a healthy dog. 

At healthy barks, we provide fresh whole food that is tailor-made for our furry friends. Check out Healthy Bark’s wholesomeChicken and Fish meal for your doggo.


Most pet-parents often struggle with managing their pet’s nutritional requirements. We help pet parents with fresh, complete and tailored nutrition for their pets by providing personalized meal plans (made fresh with real ingredients) specially designed to meet their pet’s health needs, and formulated by a veterinary nutritionist so that they stay worry-free & can get on with spending real-time with their doggos. We are currently serving in Bangalore. So, if you reside in Bangalore, book a free, in-person consultation with the Healthy Barks family at or feel free to call or drop us a ‘Hi’ on WhatsApp at +91 - 76767 20200. Come and enjoy a food tasting session with us!

PS: If you have any additional queries, or would want us to cover any specific topic, feel free to tell us in the comment section below.

Happy Wagging & Healthy Barks! :D

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