The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

Animal Love

what to feed my dogs?

Kind Lifer Kristen Magno sent me a message a while ago asking me if my dogs are vegan too, and if they are what I feed them. Well, I feed my three dogs, Sweety, Lacy, and Butterfly (we also call Butterfly, (The Pig) a 100% plant-based diet. They are all between 13 and 15 years old and weigh around 70 lbs (they are big guys!). I feed them Dr. Harvey’s brand dog food, their Canine Health line, and always give them all of our leftovers so there is no waste of food or money. Dr. Harvey’s is a mix of oats, grains, dried veggies and seaweed. It’s a little bit of a process to make the food for them, but it’s sooooo worth it. And if you set a timer and walk away it’s not difficult at all.

You cook it on your stovetop. You combine the Dr. Harvey’s with a protein source (we use lentils, mung beans, split peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.) and oil. It’s super important to rotate the type of beans so your dogs get different sources of vitamins and minerals. When we use beans, we soak them overnight in water with a piece of kombu (use a 1-inch by 1-inch square of kombu per cup of beans) and use the soaking water to water plants in the morning. Do not cook the beans in the same water that they soaked in. This will make for gassy dogs. Cook the beans along with the kombu. If you forget to soak the beans with the kombu, add it when you start cooking. This helps the beans cook more quickly and helps dogs (and you!) with gas issues.

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We cook the beans until they are soft and mash them with a potato masher. If we don’t mash them, they come out of the dogs whole in their poo. After mashing, we add the Dr. Harvey’s mix along with any leftovers we have, when that is done, we plate up the food, wait for it to cool and add oil. We make a big batch once a day and that’s enough for 2 meals for all 3 dogs. If you want, you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for a couple days at a time. We just do it daily since we have 3 big dogs and have to make a big pot of food for them.

We also add the supplements, L-Carnatine and Taurine. These are 2 amino acids that are essential to some dogs. They might be added to some commercial dog foods, but in this case with Dr. Harvey’s they are not. When dogs are deficient in these nutrients, it can cause diomyopathy, a serious illness where the heart becomes large and flabby and can no longer function properly. This usually happens to middle-aged dogs that have an L-Carnatine or Taurine deficiency due to their breed, size, genetics, or diet. You can buy these supplements at your local health food store, places like Whole Foods or online. Look for supplements with veg-friendly capsules and not the ones that have gelatin in them! And make sure you always check with your dog’s vet before starting them on any sort of supplement regimen.

Since our dogs have been eating this way, they have stopped getting fleas, hot spots, and their coats look so nice. They are all super healthy with perfect blood work. People always think they are younger than they really are. Feed your animals grains, beans, and veggies like you would eat and you will absolutely see a difference in their health. Sometimes when we are in between Dr. Harvey’s orders, I’ll just give them rice, beans, and whatever leftover veggies we have around, and they love it!

And I have to say, their poo is amazing. I’m so proud of them! I see other dogs’ poo and it just doesn’t compare. It’s super healthy, easy to pick-up, and they don’t struggle to get it out.

You can order Dr. Harvey’s dog food from their website, or you can ask your local store to carry it. Sometimes, if we are in a hurry, we give the dogs Evolution brand, Vegan Kibble. You can get it from www.vegancats.com, or again, ask your local stores to carry it or order it for you. I try to always give them Dr. Harvey’s though because it just feels more pure to me and I’d rather them not have dry food, as I feel like it dries them out. But this dry food is great when the Dr. Harvey’s can’t happen. Natural Balance makes a dry vegetarian dog food too.

Remember that conventional pet food is pretty much junk food for your animals. It’s full of animal byproducts (intestines, bones, brains, etc.), preservatives, chemicals, and fillers. Personally I can’t justify killing one animal to save or feed another. If you feed meat to your dogs, that’s what we are doing…deciding that one life is more worthy than the other. They don’t need it and they do better without it, as long as you feed them a healthy, balanced food source like Dr. Harvey’s.

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A vegan diet works really well because our dogs don’t live in the wild. They take a walk every day, maybe follow their humans around a little, and not a lot more, so a plant-based diet is just fine for most dogs’ energy requirements.

And for doggie treats, here are a few we love:

Boston Baked Bonz

- their cookies look amazing. My assistant actually ate half of one of their ginger snap cookies and said it was really good…

Sweet Potate’r Chews from Dr. Harvey’s

Mr. Barky’s Vegetarian Dog Biscuits

- we grab these from Whole Foods – these are our staple treats

What are your thoughts on a veggie diet for your pets? Do you have brands of food that you love? Or treats?

 

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  • Lucy Saw

    A plant based diet is not a species appropriate diet and harmful to dogs long term health. Dogs are not biologically built to eat a plant based diet as they are omnivores. Its one thing to allow a philosophy to guide your life its another to inflict that on your dogs. Dogs have evolved with humans for some 30,000 years eating a mostly meat diet and its wrong to change that because of some newfangled dietary notion. I thought vegans were supposed to actually care for nature and an animals natural nature, instead you’re trying to change their nature.

    • Jaesheeka

      If you had clicked the link to Oracle you would know that its ingredients do contain meat. V-dog is also a really great brand. I suggest you should do more research regarding this topic.

      • Lucy Saw

        If the food contains meat then its not a vegan diet. The article states “Dr. Harvey’s is a mix of oats, grains, dried veggies and seaweed.” She doesn’t say anything about it containing meat. I came here to read an article, not to go investigating Dr. Harvey’s mix. I make homemade dog food so I don’t need to look for store brand foods. Do I also feed vegetables to my dog? Yes. No grains however. They love carrots as a treat and they enjoy sweet potato and green beans but the protein in their diet is meat and what they mostly eat is a meat based diet. By the way giving a dog grains and oats leads to allergy problems so I would never ever buy this product for my dogs because its substandard food for a canine.

    • Beth

      What you fail to understand Lucy is that biologically they get the same nutrients from a vegan diet as a meat based diet, simply in a more pure and healthy way. While they may be inclined as carnivores/omnivores, they can thrive on a healthy vegan diet just like we can, and like us are often more healthy as a result. Do your research.

      • Lucy Saw

        No you are wrong. The gastrointestinal tract is simple and does not have the capacity to digest large amounts of plant products which is why it always leads to health problems in a dogs life. High quality animal-source proteins contain all the essential amino acids dogs need, whereas some plant-based proteins may be deficient in some essential amino acids. Dogs are scavenging carnivores. In general terms this means they are primarily meat-eaters, but can survive on plant material alone if necessary. The key word here is ‘survive.’ To survive is not to thrive. To thrive is grow vigorously … to flourish. To survive means simply to stay alive.

        To feed a dog a vegan diet is completely selfish and in no way in the best interest of the dog.

  • Natalie

    As someone who works in the veterinary profession, I have never seen a healthy vegan dog. Maybe your dogs started out eating a species-appropriate diet, but those that I have seen who have been forced to eat a vegan diet their whole lives do not live very long. Maybe your older dogs have eaten a vegan diet their whole lives, I don’t know, but it doesn’t make it right. Some humans can smoke every day for 60 years and not get lung cancer but it doesn’t make it healthy. If you see whole beans in their feces, it means they are not digesting them and therefore not utilizing them. Just because you mash them up doesn’t make that problem go away, you just can’t see those particles in their feces. If you have to artificially add carnitine and taurine, you are not feeding them a species-approrpriate diet. Those amino acids can only be found in meat, therefore dogs must eat meat. They may be relatively more adapted to eat vegetable matter than cats (who are obligate carnivores), but meat must be in their diet for optimal health. You ask why you would kill one life to save another. Would you go out into the wild and prevent a lion from taking down an impala? A hawk from swooping down on a chicken? A house cat from catching a mouse? If yes, then I would fear to see the world in your hands.

  • Nicky Loyal

    I feel so conflicted on this one not trying to eat meat myself but then going to the butchers for my dogs. If I could get organic free range stuff for them that would make me feel better but it works out quite costly for me.I wouldnt feel veg only for them is right just because it goes against nature and that always leads to problems.

    • Tess Nielson

      I can’t cook any meat so I buy frozen organic green beans and peas for cheap, at Costco. I’m careful to warm and not cook out the nutrients. I add the veggies and water for extra vitamins and moisture to kibbles. Sometimes I make a big pot of lentiles, quinoa or basmati rice. They refuse to eat unless they have their veggies. They especially love olive oil, herbs, or spices for the flavor and I like the health benefits. Check with your butcher for scraps to add with other ingredients to stretch it out. Our health food store sells organic grassfed meat for dogs for $2.00 lb.

      • Nicky Loyal

        Thank you Tess – I always do feel better cooking from scratch for the dog as well :)

  • Tess Nielson

    I was disturbed to see the terrible ingredients used in vegan dog food. If it’s not organic then any corn or soybean products will contain GMO’s. Any chicken products will be loaded with antibiotics and hormones. Wheat is now so hybridized and should be avoided by everyone. Costco’s Kirtland contains lamb, rice and ingredients I can pronounce so that’s what I buy. Being vegan I’m not co comfortable with it for my dogs. I give them quinoa, rice, lentiles and vegetable to their kibbles.

  • Heather Hall-Ingalsbe

    Both of my dogs (pitbull & a chihuahua mix) are vegan. I make their homemade food every day and rotate the different protein, carb, and veggies sources. I add fresh fruit, either hemp or coconut oil, and nuts/seeds, such as pumpkin and chia. They LOVE their food! With their premium, non-vegan kibble (Dr. Tim’s) their food would sit in their bowls for days without them touching it. Now, their coats are shinier, they have no more diarrhea, and they’re actually eating. My cats are also vegan and have been eating Evolution cat food for a couple months now. They were getting sick when we bought the last bag of their Diamond cat food (though it was the same type of cat food). Puking and diarrhea everywhere (TMI, I know). Now, my little kittehs are doing a whole lot better and can’t wait until their feeding time everyday! With the crap that goes into pet food nowadays (euthanized dogs & cats, diseased livestock, etc.) I feel it is a million times better and safer to just make the food at home. And to whoever said that adding supplements shows that their diet is unhealthy: ALL dog food and cat food companies need to readd synthetic supplements back into the food because the cooking process destroys the natural vitamins and minerals. And Natalie, the oldest livings dogs were/are vegan, so the “vegan” dogs you must be seeing are dogs that are not being fed the correct vegan diet. Meat doesn’t need to be in their diet for optimal health. And I highly doubt that you can call the meat that does get put into most dog foods actual meat. Another dog or cat that has been pumped with euthanization fluid is not “meat.” The poisons designed to kill your beloved pet are also the same ones being fed to them indirectly. I feel much safer with plant protein. Thanks for all of your advice, Alicia! =)

  • Les Cunningham

    If you read the comments, Alicia, it would add a lot to the vegan dog conversation if you posted such things as blood panels for your dogs, ideally before and after becoming vegan, and any other studies from your vet that helps prove they are eating a healthful and nutritionally sound diet. I have a friend who won’t believe anecdotal evidence about healthy vegan dogs, she wants to have all the details.

  • http://cyborland.wix.com/organic-vegan-eating Christina Borland

    Patrick,

    I would really like to talk with you further on this topic, I had a 7 year old Husky dog who stopped eating her organic chicken dried dog food about 2 years ago as she had tapeworms and I guess it hurt her tummy to eat it. So I started giving her different things to get her to eat again, and also treated her for the tapeworms, and eventually started cooking more and more of her food from scratch. With more research, I eventually transitioned her to a low meat, organic home cooked diet with lots of eggs and cooked legumes and grain-free carbs. I also sometimes gave her organic canned chicken / dog food / raw organic chicken patties / organic vegetarian dry dog food mixed into her food, depending on her bowel health at the time. I was trying different foods to help her gain weight and also heal from the tapeworms that had really devastated her intestinal tract.

    She had some health issues this past year (heartworms, UTI, erlichiosis) which we just found out about a few months ago, and was getting treated for the UTI from the vet, and we were getting ready to start heartworm treatment next. However, I could not get her to put weight on and suspect it was more than the food I was giving her that was causing her to not be able to gain weight (perhaps cancer, the issues mentioned above, or other issues I am overlooking). I have cats also who have been on a similar diet the past 18 months (using some organic canned cat food to supplement the protein but other ingredients the same as above). My cats are very healthy, shiny coats, lots of energy, bright eyes, etc. One of my cats even had kittens last summer and her babies are now 10 months old and growing just great! So they seem to be thriving on this diet and love their eggs and other yummy foods I cook for them!

    I would really appreciate being able to discuss this with you directly and get your veterinarian advice! If you can please email me at [email protected] that would be most appreciated! If you can also tell me the name of your vet practice, I would really like to learn more about holistic vet options. Thanks so much for your help!
    Christina