Saturday, January 1, 2011

Veggie Dogs

So, we've started a new "experiment" here in the house.  Basically, our dogs love to eat veggies and often fruit.  Carrots are their particular favorites but they'll eat bites of apples and bananas, etc.  Knowing that dogs can be somewhat omnivorous (unlike cats that are obligatory carnivores, dogs are preferentially carnivores) and that many of the commercial dog foods found on the market today have a mix of vegetable and meat ingredients, we thought we would supplement their diet with fresh veggies and grains cooked ourselves.

As people spend more time and money on their pets, now fully members of the family, we are right to be concerned about the quality of their foods. The problem is there is not a lot of education on what a dog "food pyramid" should be and not a lot of transparency around the source or percentages of the ingredients in their kibble. 

We've been reading more about the meat industry and have found that not only is the meat people eat of poor quality and sanitation, what goes to our beloved pets is even worse.  What they are getting, often the scraps or 4 D's animals  - dead, downed/dying, diseased, disabled - is considered unfit for human consumption and not what I want to feed my pups.   Dog food can be substandard nutritionally, filled with corn, little meat, etc.  How are we to know that what they are getting is healthy?

We've decided, after reading a few books on the subject, to try out giving the dogs veggie meals just at dinner.   They will remain on their regular kibble for breakfast but have home-made meals at night. That way they will at least be getting what they've had in the past 50% of the time.  We've kept the ingredients simple and prepare them simply too - mostly through boiling or steaming and not adding salt or oil.  We'll probably look more into fatty supplements very soon, just to be sure we're covering all the bases.  Here is an example meal mixture:

 - Steamed carrots - carrots chopped, then steamed until soft and mashed
 - Carrot water from the steamer to add moisture
 - Black beans (or lentils or any bean) - soaked as needed, boiled until tender and mashed
 - Organic no salt/sugar puffed millet or puffed brown rice
 - Rice (brown preferred) - steamed
 - Green beans or peas - bought frozen, steamed until soft and mashed in
 - Sweet potato, pumpkin or other squash - steamed or microwaved until cooked/soft

I use my hand masher to blend all this together and add some of the saved carrot water to make it moist and sticky, very much like the consistency of canned dog food.   But there is no added salt or oils so my pups aren't gulping water after they eat.   A bonus. I make a good amount and give the dogs about 1 to 1.5 cups for their meal, so this batch will last about 3 meals for two dogs. 

I've been keeping a close eye on their energy, behavior and bathroom habits.  They haven't had any stomach issues and seem to be going #2 okay as well. 

As far as I can tell they LOVE IT!  I mean, check this out:

One of the books we read is this one - The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book.  It's not a nutritionist book.  Mostly it gives high level information and some good recipes plus foods to avoid.

After seeing how this goes and talking with our vet, we may try out a commercial food like V-Dog to replace their kibble.  But our first goal is their health.  We want to make sure our pups get what they need before any other concerns or issues.

If you have any experience with dogs eating an omnivorous or vegan/vegetarian diet, I'd love to learn more so please share.

For additional options (I have not checked these out), PETA listed Companies That Sell Vegan Dog and Cat Food:

Evolution Diet
Dog and cat kibble and canned food, ferret kibble, fish food

F&O Alternative Pet Products
Vegan dog and cat kibble and canned food

Harbingers of a New Age
Vegecat™, Vegekit™, Vegedog™, Vegepup™, and digestive enzymes

Natural Life Pet Products
Canned and kibble dog food

Nature's Recipe
Canned and kibble dog food

Newman's Own
Organic vegan dog treats

Pet Guard
Canned dog food and biscuits

Wow-Bow Distributors
Canned and kibble dog food and biscuits

Wysong Corporation
Dog and cat kibble

If you decide to prepare your own vegetarian dog or cat food, we recommend that you read Vegetarian Cats & Dogs to ensure that you understand the nutritional needs of dogs and cats. Do not rely on this factsheet for complete information. The book has several recipes and helpful hints. If your library or bookstore doesn't have it, you can order it from Harbingers of a New Age.


Selen Design said...

I have been feeding my dog on veggies- fruits and occasional salmon and chicken.
He's in great health and loves any veggies!
From beets, cucumbers to peas and etc.
Dr.Harvey vegtobowl is a great alternative for a fast feeding as well.

tripetal said...

I have two rescue dogs; a little toy poodle and a medium sheltie mix. They have both done fantastic on a vegan diet. I also give them dry vegan kibble in the morning and a homemade mix of grains, greens and lentils in the evening. they love frozen sweet potato fries or baked sweet potatoes. the bigger one likes all fruits and veggies, the little one mostly sweet potatoes and broccoli.