Vegan diet for dogs: A question of thriving vs. surviving

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN March 10, 2011 7:57 a.m. EST


Atlanta (CNN) — It began when Shelley Boyle’s veterinarian recommended she stop feeding meat and dairy to her beloved mutt, Cleo, to determine whether a food allergy was to blame for the dog’s chronic ear infection.

Boyle’s interest was immediately piqued. She had been a vegan for nearly two years, after deciding to cut meat, eggs and dairy from her diet for health and ethical reasons. But she never considered the possibility that she could align her dog’s diet with hers.

“I’ve had animals all my life and when I did look into a vegan diet for my cat, I read that cats can’t be vegan … so I went to the conclusion that we can’t do this for Cleo,” says Boyle, an environmental consultant and part-time vegan baker from Studio City, California.

With her doctor’s guidance, she began whipping up batches of pinto beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes each week. She fed them to 4-year-old Cleo, a German shepherd/pit bull mix, twice daily with a dose of probiotics at lunch to help her digest.

Five months later, Cleo’s ear infection is gone, Boyle says. Her coat has taken on a healthy shine and she no longer has bad breath, dandruff or excessive shedding, she says. Her vet at the Animal Dermatology Clinic in Pasadena, California, suggested incorporating calcium and iron supplements through a diet of leafy greens or a vegan nutritional capsule.

“Her health and well-being is the main thing for us, but that fact we have a vegan option is a double-benefit because it means our dog can live with the same ideology,” she says.

With the vegan diet enjoying a period of (mostly) positive widespread exposure, it should come as little surprise that vegetarian or vegan pet owners might want to project those ideals onto their canine companions.

Celebrities such as Woody Harrelson, Ellen Degeneres, Russell Simmons and Alicia Silverstone (who discusses her dogs’ vegan diet in her book, “The Kind Diet”) have long been touting the health benefits of a vegan diet, along with Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn, two doctors who are the subjects of an upcoming documentary extolling the benefits of the plant-based diet. A steady stream in recent years of publications, from Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2009 book “Eating Animals” to this year’s New York Times bestseller, “Veganist,” also have lent the movement some credibility.

Read “Vegan on the silver screen”

It’s even caught the attention of talk show host and professional trendsetter Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey recently challenged her staff to go vegan for a week, with the help of “Veganist” author and nutritionist Kathy Freston. The experiment led to a collective weight loss of 440 pounds and a pledge from Winfrey to go “vegan-ish” and institute meatless Mondays at Harpo Studios.

The notion of a holistic approach that gives pet owners more control over their pets’ diet has been gaining ground since 2007, when a melamine contamination of commercial pet food caused people to take a closer look at what they were feeding their pets, says Donna Spector, a veterinary internal medicine specialist who runsSpectorDVM, an animal nutrition consultancy.

“That was a turning point that led to more home-cooked meals and raw food diets. Vegetarianism is another subset of that backlash,” she says.

Spector and six other pet experts who spoke with CNN conceded — some more reluctantly than others — that most dogs could biologically live on a vegan diet. But doing so requires substantial attention to creating a balanced diet that makes up for the loss of animal protein with substitutions of beans, soy and, to a lesser extent, vegetables and grains.

Dogs are classified in the order Carnivora, but, unlike cats (a topic for another day) they have evolved biologically as omnivores, meaning their systems can derive nutrients from a wide variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and animal products.

“The important thing is that you use a diet that has been shown to be nutritionally adequate for whatever stage of life you’re feeding, and it is absolutely possible to find a good quality commercial pet food that doesn’t have animal products in it,” says veterinarian Kathryn E. Michel, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

She recommended using only commercial pet food that has gone through Association of American Feed Control Officials feeding trials. Or, if you prefer to cook meals from scratch, consult a credentialed expert in dog nutrition to ensure a proper balance of essential nutrients.

Whether dogs can thrive on a vegan diet elicits different shades of responses.

“If you go to India you can see dogs living on the scraps. They can survive on almost nothing once they’ve evolved to living on the streets, but is that what’s best?” says pet expert and author Tracie Hotchner, host of the radio show “Dog Talk.”

“If a dog has a choice he’s not picking a pile of beans over chicken or meat, and he’s not going to be lapping up soy,” she says. “If you’re going to be harmonious in your choices, be harmonious. I say respect each species for what it was meant to be, and if you feel that strongly about being vegan, get a vegetarian animal. Bunnies make wonderful pets.”

Dogs have a significantly higher daily protein requirement than humans. Finding protein sources that provide adequate amounts of nutrients such as amino acids in the sufficient ratio can be difficult under the vegan approach, which relies on plant protein sources that have less biologic value than meat protein, Spector says.

“Vegetarian pet foods require the addition of synthetic amino acids to fill nutritional gaps or a much higher overall protein level to supply all of the essential amino acids. Overall, it is much easier and more reliable to supply a dog’s essential nutrients in a food containing both plants and meat,” she says.

The vegan diet also lacks some essential fatty acids that are only available in animal products like butter and fish oils, says veterinarian Michael Fox, former president of the U.S. Humane Society and author of “Dog Mind, Dog Body.”

Fox, a lacto-ovo vegetarian who feeds his dogs an omnivorous diet prepared at home, says the best approach for dogs — and humans — is a varied diet from organic ingredients. He says some adult dogs do adapt and even thrive on well-balanced vegan diets, but contends that dogs do best with a variety of foods that include some animals fats and protein.

“Dogs have evolved to a degree, but they’ve been with us 45,000 years as camp followers, scavengers, village dogs in the third-world countries and they’ll eat just about anything,” he says, adding that dogs could benefit from a vegan meal at least once a week to detox.

“But then again, we don’t have the real science to back up whether it’s safe enough, so, for dogs’ sake, we need to adopt the cautionary principle.”

The first thing doctors tend to ask is why someone is considering a vegan diet, Fox says. In most cases, personal ethics are the primary motivator, followed by food allergies.

In the latter category, a vegan diet can bring relief, veterinarianArmaiti May says.

“I’ve seen many dogs with food allergies, and often switching to a vegan diet can help them,” says May, who is vegan. “They also avoid taking in animal by-products from commercially produced dog food, including slaughterhouse waste products and rejects that wouldn’t be fit for human consumption. We’ve seen a lot of cancer and other degenerative diseases in dogs in recent years so it’s easy to suspect that pet food could be a contributor.”

For those who have embraced a vegan diet for their dogs, they say they have living and breathing proof that it works.

Heather Kennedy, an editor for a scientific nonprofit society in Atlanta, has raised her two dogs vegan since she they came to live with her, two and a half years ago. She feeds them a prepared blend of dried vegetables, fruits and herbs that she mixes with water and either tofu, beans or textured vegetable protein.

“I get the occasional weird look, but any doubters seem to feel much better once they meet Moliere and Tillie and see that they’re normal, healthy, energetic and rambunctious little dogs,” she says.


Immediate Foster Needed for Handsome Boy

All expenses paid to foster Seamus this very cool cat

Seamus, a Happy and Content Cat, See His Smile?

Seamus was abandoned in the Bronx on the coldest day of winter when he was 4 years old! A kind neighbor brought him to the ACC where he was rescued, fostered & finally adopted into a wonderful home with other kitties & pups. Unfortunately Seamus’ adopter family went through some hard times & a marital crisis which means that Seamus has to be rehomed. Seamus has a beautiful golden heart pattern right on his heart!

Seamus Will Fit Right In, See How He Fits In On This Laundry?
Seamus Relaxing, This Guy is Very Good at Making Himself at Home, Just Think This Could Be Your Sofa That He is Lounging On!

He is magnificent to look at. His mellow, easy going, big guy stature comes across as intimidating to some folks, but those who know him are blessed with a mush of a cat who loves to sleep with you, loves pets and kisses unless you corner him for those pets and kisses, lol. He is 11 years old, fully vetted & healthy! Seamus needs a home with a person who is patient and understands that abandonment comes with just a little bit of baggage, such as a lion king who marches to his own drummer. If you are patient you will witness an evolving, amazing cat! Seamus gets along with most dogs & cats, but would do best in a home with just one or two submissive type cats who are ok with him being the king. Please contact Susan to foster/adopt at:

Seamus Would Be A Gift To Any Home


Immediate Foster Needed NYC All Expenses Paid



6 1/2 year old brothers Finn & Sawyer. Ultra cute, playful, affectionate with people, and fully vetted! These brothers really love to play together and they also love to give & receive human affection.
Through no fault of their own, they lost their home and their foster cannot keep them. If they are not adopted before June 15th 2016, they will have to be uprooted a THIRD time, and put in another foster situation! These boys need stability and love and at long last a forever home! If you CAN foster, all food, litter & Vet expenses will be paid plus a little extra for the foster’s income. I need to know that there is a backup foster in case they are not adopted by June 15th which doesn’t look likely.
Contact me if you can FOSTER or adopt at:


They’re Not Listening Still, Perhaps They Never Will

Vincent Van Gogh

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now, I understand, what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now, I understand, what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night

You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now, I think I know what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Dogs Explained

source: My Dog: The Paradox – The Oatmeal

My Dog: The Paradox


Human beings create temporary and arbitrary boundaries to exclude beings who aren’t like them. Human beings have justified wars, slavery, sexual violence, and military conquests through the mistaken belief that those who are “different” do not experience suffering and are not worthy of moral consideration.

These boundaries change throughout history, and we’re horrified now to recall the abuse inflicted on others once classified as outsiders: the extermination of Jewish people by the Nazis, the enslavement of African people by American plantation owners, and the slaughter of Christian people for entertainment by Roman centurions. Laws now forbid discrimination based on gender, race, religion, ability, age, and sexual orientation. Yet just a century ago, human beings who were seen as different by those with power faced torture, exploitation, and death.

Sometimes those in power claimed that juvenile or dark-skinned human beings couldn’t feel pain. Sometimes the powerful claimed that their superiority was granted by God. Our society no longer believes that any human being has the right to rape, torture, or enslave another human being for any reason. We accept that all human beings share a fundamental value and celebrate our differences.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We are taught the Golden Rule as young children, and all major religions teach principles of nonviolence and kindness. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Ethical treatment—the Golden Rule—must be extended to all living beings: reptiles, mammals, fish, insects, birds, amphibians, and crustaceans.

Would we imprison our children in cages too small for them to move? Would we violate our sisters and steal their babies? Would we deliberately infect our friends with diseases and leave them untreated? Of course not—so why would we do the same to other beings? We must abandon the archaic and incorrect boundary of “human,” which we use to justify the ongoing massacre of billions of beings.

More than a century ago, Charles Darwin showed that all beings had the same common ancestor. All beings share the desire to live. We all feel pain, joy, grief, and pleasure. We all have worth.

Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

All beings desire freedom to live a natural life, according to their inherent desires and instincts. While the lives of all beings necessarily involve some amount of suffering, human beings must stop deliberately inflicting suffering on all beings for our own selfish desires. We lose nothing in replacing a cheeseburger with a veggie burger or a leather purse with a fabric one. But beings we exploit lose their lives just for our fleeting fancy.

We are taught from a young age to discriminate among beings. We are fooled into eating the flesh of some beings, ignoring the cries of hunted beings, and cuddling with furry baby beings. We grow up confused—as adults, most of us feel sick and sad when we see living beings tortured and killed, yet we purchase and consume the flesh, fur, secretions, and skin of living beings every day. We work hard to deceive ourselves and each other in order to maintain the illusion of a real boundary around “human.”

The threats of economic collapse, the defiant claims of inherent rights, and the stubborn refusal to change behavior—these tired arguments have been heard and overcome many times in the past. Every time a boundary shifts, the suffragists or the abolitionists or the emancipators are at first ridiculed and belittled for their stance of equal consideration. Eventually, the lies are exposed, and freedom is won—for women, blacks, Christians, gays, Asians, the Irish, Catholics, Jews. Let freedom now include all beings. 

We are all animals.

Human beings have few, if any, unique capabilities—many beings can learn languages, enjoy complex social bonds, sacrifice pleasure for the good of others, use tools, imagine, and dream. Many beings remember information, play with friends, enjoy intimacy, gossip, and mourn their deceased. Some beings have enormous capabilities beyond our own—in navigation, endurance, communication, and detection of natural phenomena. We don’t yet fully understand how all beings think—or what they think—but dismissing their mental world as less developed, rational, moral, or intelligent than our own is clearly a mistake.

Regardless of their capabilities, no living being deserves to be abused. We believe that it’s wrong to torture infant and disabled human beings who don’t have the same abilities as adults. In the same way, all beings deserve liberty and respect not because they share the characteristics we admire in ourselves but because they are living beings. We share the same evolutionary origins, we inhabit the same Earth, and we are ruled by the same laws of nature. We are all the same.~peta

Ringling Will Still Torture Elephants In their Retirement With Vivisection

Ringling Cuts Open Retired Elephants For Research


Now the elephants at Ringling Bros are heading back to a research center disguised as a “retirement” community.  Not even going to call it a sanctuary.  They will be used now for research purposes.  We know this as vivisection.  The researchers want to figure out why elephants don’t get cancer.  Let’s see they don’t smoke, they don’t drink, they are not injected with toxic chemicals when they are born and THEY DON”T EAT ANIMALS, they eat plants. How much GRANT money will the Feld family get now?  Probably more than what they were making dragging the elephants from city to city. ~Ellen Ericksen

Read about their “retirement” CenterforElephantConservationAbuse
please sign this petition petition4elephants and then follow up by tweeting to Nicole Feld (@NicoleFeld)—executive vice president of Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company—and urging her to use her position of authority to take all the animals off the road and send them to true sanctuaries.