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The question of whether dogs can thrive on a vegan diet sparks considerable debate among pet parents and experts. However, it's important to keep in mind that dogs can have varied diets. As long as they're getting all the essential vitamins and minerals they need, it's not really important whether they're consuming meat. 

In short, dogs can be vegan, and you can feed your dog a vegan diet that's healthy for them. Dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats; they've evolved to be more flexible in their dietary choices. 1 Like humans, dogs have nutrient requirements, not necessarily ingredient requirements. 

That said, not all vegan diets are safe and healthy for dogs. So, can dogs be vegan? Yes, but the vitamin and mineral composition of their food must be able to meet all of their nutritional needs. Keep reading to learn more about the vegan diet for dogs. 

Is a Vegan Diet Healthy for Dogs? 

Can a dog be vegan? Absolutely. Animals don't have ingredient requirements. Therefore, it doesn't matter if your dog is getting their nutrients from vegan or meat-based meals, as long as they meet their nutritional requirements. 1

However, it's crucial for pet parents to recognize the importance of meeting your dog's nutritional needs. While vegetables like carrots and broccoli are vegan, feeding your dog only these foods won't meet their nutritional requirements. 

The good news is that dogs don't seem to have a taste preference between vegan and non-vegan diets. 2 Of course, while it's crucial for your dog to want to actually eat their food, what's even more important is that the food you're giving them is nutrient-rich.

According to one study, dogs don’t seem to have a preference between vegan and non-vegan diets

Luckily, there's been lots of research into the vegan diet for dogs. In a recent study, 70% of pet parents rated their vegan dogs as "healthy" versus 55% of owners whose dogs ate conventional dog food. 3 Keep in mind that these are simply pet parent opinions, not actual facts about the dogs' health. 

That said, dogs can thrive on a vegan diet, provided it's well-formulated and meets their nutritional requirements. The key lies in careful planning and ensuring that the diet includes a variety of plant-based ingredients that provide essential nutrients. 

A balanced vegan diet for dogs should include protein sources, essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, just like traditional meat-based dog food. Can dogs be vegan and healthy? The vegan diet can be a viable option for dogs, but pet parents must approach it with diligence. Consulting with a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist for diet and nutrition advice is crucial to formulate a well-balanced and nutritionally complete vegan diet tailored to the dog's individual needs. 

Risks of vegan diets for dogs

Risks of Vegan Diets for Dogs 

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether we should feed dogs a vegan diet. Most studies focus on the nutritional content rather than a clinical approach. Potential issues in these diets could include: 

  • Insufficient protein
  • Unbalanced fats
  • Nutrient deficiencies 4

For instance, unbalanced plant protein diets in dogs can lead to anemia, but balancing the diet properly resolves these potential issues. Conversely, meat-free diets have shown benefits in treating specific diseases like allergies to food proteins. 4

Overall, studies suggest positive aspects of vegan diets for dogs, but there are potential risks and considerations. One key concern is the need for careful formulation to ensure the diets are "complete and balanced" with essential nutrients. Veterinary nutritionists formulated the vegan diets tested in various studies. 1 

Unfortunately, many studies are fairly limited. A study that demonstrated desirable fecal characteristics, high nutrient digestibility, and positive changes in blood and fecal metabolites in dogs fed vegan diets only lasted three weeks, which may not be long enough to understand long-term implications or potential health effects over an extended time. 1

Essentially, more research is needed to determine how safe vegan diets for dogs really are in the long term. While existing studies are limited in sample size and duration, some suggest benefits via guardian surveys. These positive findings are, unfortunately, subject to biases consistent across studies. 4 

Large-scale studies are needed to address the various concerns to determine the true safety and healthiness of the vegan diet for dogs. If you choose to feed your dog a vegan diet, it's recommended to use commercially produced options due to their lower likelihood of causing nutrient imbalances. 4

How to Choose the Best Diet for Your Dog 

Choosing the best diet for your dog is a crucial aspect of ensuring their overall health and well-being. Consider the following factors to make an informed decision: 

  • Age and life stage: Puppies, adult dogs, and seniors have different nutritional needs. Choose a high-quality dog food that aligns with your dog's life stage. 
  • Breed and size: Whether you choose human-grade dog food or commercial kibble, large and small breeds may have different dietary requirements. Some breeds are prone to specific health issues that can be addressed through proper nutrition. 
  • Health status: If your dog has any existing health conditions, consult with your veterinarian to determine if a special diet is necessary. 
  • Activity level: Active dogs may need a diet higher in calories and protein, while less active dogs may require a lower-calorie option to prevent obesity. 
  • Nutritional content: Check the nutrient profile of the dog food, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Ingredients: Look for high-quality ingredients. Avoid artificial additives, preservatives, and excessive fillers. 
  • Food allergies or sensitivities: If your dog has allergies or sensitivities, choose a diet that eliminates potential triggers, such as specific proteins or grains. 

Always consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your dog's diet. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog's unique needs. 

Additionally, always monitor your dog's response after transitioning to a new diet. You can adjust the diet if needed. 


Can dogs be 100% vegan? 

Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can obtain nutrients from both plant and animal sources. However, transitioning a dog to a vegan diet requires careful consideration of several factors. 

Ensuring proper nutrient balance is crucial, as dogs have specific requirements for protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals commonly found in animal products. Protein is a critical aspect, as plant-based proteins may lack essential amino acids and other nutrients crucial for various aspects of canine health. 

Consulting with a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist is crucial before making dietary changes like this. These professionals can assess the unique needs of the dog and provide guidance on achieving a balanced and nutritionally complete vegan diet. 

Commercially available vegan dog food is formulated to meet dogs' nutritional requirements and is often the easiest, safest option. However, regular vet check-ups are crucial to monitor your dog's health and prevent nutrient deficiencies. 

Can dogs and cats be vegan? 

Dogs, as omnivores, have the ability to derive nutrients from both plant and animal sources, making a vegan diet a potential option with careful planning. 

On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their nutritional needs are primarily met through animal-derived proteins and nutrients. Cats have specific dietary requirements that are essential for their well-being and can be deficient in plant-based diets. 

It's crucial for pet owners to acknowledge and respect the distinct dietary needs of dogs and cats, providing appropriate nutrition to ensure their overall health and well-being. Seeking guidance from veterinary professionals is essential when considering alternative diets to make informed and responsible choices for pets.

Can dogs live without meat?

Dogs have the capacity to survive without meat in their diets. While they can derive essential nutrients from both plant and animal sources, it is crucial to ensure that their dietary needs are met to maintain optimal health. Dogs require specific nutrients such as protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which can be sourced from well-balanced plant-based diets or commercial vegan dog foods. 

However, certain nutrients like taurine and vitamin B12 are primarily found in animal products, so careful consideration and supplementation are necessary in a meat-free diet. 4 It's recommended for pet owners considering a vegetarian or vegan diet for their dogs to consult with a veterinarian to ensure the diet meets all nutritional requirements and promotes the dog's well-being.

It's important to keep in mind that more studies are needed on a wider scale to determine the long-term effects of feeding dogs a vegan diet. This is why it's so crucial to consult with your vet, especially in the long term. If you feed your dog a vegan diet, you'll need to ensure they continue to get all the nutritional components they need for a happy, healthy life.

Young Black man offering a slice of cucumber to his dog while cooking

Final Notes 

Can a dog be vegan? The question of whether dogs can thrive on a vegan diet remains a subject of ongoing debate similar to the grain-free diet for dogs. While dogs have the ability to derive nutrients from both plant and animal sources, transitioning them to a vegan diet requires careful consideration of nutritional balance.

Factors such as age, breed, health status, activity level, and nutritional content should be carefully considered. While some studies suggest positive aspects of vegan diets for dogs, there are also potential risks and limitations that necessitate further research. 

Find the right diet for your dog by consulting a vet from the comfort of your home. Try Dutch today. Choose between our membership plans and get access to unlimited advice and follow-ups, along with prescriptions delivered right to your door. 




  1. "U of I Study Gives a Thumbs up to Carefully Formulated Vegan Diets for Dogs." College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, 27 Mar. 2023,

  2. Knight, Andrew, and Liam Satchell. "Vegan versus Meat-Based Pet Foods: Owner-Reported Palatability Behaviours and Implications for Canine and Feline Welfare." PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science,

  3. "Should Your Dog Go Vegan?:" Health Library,,1657122739.

  4. Domínguez-Oliva, Adriana, et al. "The Impact of Vegan Diets on Indicators of Health in Dogs and Cats: A Systematic Review." Veterinary Sciences, vol. 10, no. 1, 1 Jan. 2023, p. 52,

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $11/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.