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My Dog Is in the Clear! Is Yours?

It’s a good thing that my dog, Carly, is so good-natured; otherwise she might bite the researchers responsible for the recent report claiming that dogs and cats are bad for the environment.  

After all, the problem isn’t the dogs and cats; it’s what many humans choose to feed them: meat. The meat industry largely contributes to climate change, so the researchers point out that “carnivorous dogs and cats” have a huge carbon footprint. They’re right that meat production is bad for the environment, of course, but I think we need to focus on how many hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and pepperoni pizzas people eat before we blame dogs and cats for climate change. Especially considering that we’re the ones who dole out their food (and we’re the ones who domesticated dogs and cats in the first place).

Dogs and cats can thrive on a balanced vegan diet, just like people can, yet many guardians still slop out meaty globs of commercial pet foods. Many of the same ailments associated with meat consumption in humans, including certain cancers as well as kidney, heart, and bone problems, can also affect dogs and cats who eat commercial pet foods. (It’s not like dogs and cats would have eaten canned beef or dried chicken kibble had we not domesticated them and bred them uncontrollably.)

Most supermarket pet food contains ground-up parts of animals that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has deemed unfit for human consumption. It’s basically made from the flesh of animals who fall into one of the USDA’s “four D” categories—dead, dying, diseased, or disabled.  

I feed Carly vegan food, not just because it’s environmentally friendly and ethically consistent with my beliefs, but because I wouldn’t dream of giving her such unhealthy crap. She loves several different kinds of vegetarian dog food as well as homemade meals. She snacks on carrots, berries, melon, banana, and vegan cookies too.

I think her healthy diet is part of the reason why she’s still playing like a puppy at 14 years old. If you’re thinking about feeding your dog or cat a vegetarian diet, too, be sure to research the issue thoroughly first. Of course, before you go changing your animal companion’s diet for ecological reasons, take a look at your own diet. If you’re concerned about climate change and other environmental problems, yet you’re still eating meat, eggs, or dairy products, it’s time to eat your way to a smaller ecological footprint. Then, both you and your best buddy can be “green” and healthy!

Commenting is closed.
  • Donna B. says:

    I am interested in what Pamela Vaughan said about humane slaughter. How was that done?

  • Pamela Vaughan says:

    My dog loves fruit and vegetables! He eats grapes, bananas, apples. He loves carrotts and even eats radishes! I do buy, however, meat and eggs from a local farmer who keeps his animals in very friendly environments. The chickens run around outside, the cows are out in pastures chilling and not pinned up and mistreated in anyway. He actually has a petting zoo, if you will, that you can come out and see the animals. When it is time for slaughter, they are killed humanely. They are acutually euthanized much the same way dogs and cats are at vet clinics. They feel nothing but did leave real lives as they should while they were here. I myself do not eat meat, but animals were meant to, I’m sorry. That’s what they eat in the wild and they need that protein to stay healthy.

  • Laura says:

    I have to feed one of my three dogs vegetarian food because she is allergic to all meats. The other dogs love to steal her food. I can say for sure that a dog that’s fed vegetarian kibble and fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks is not lacking anything! Frozen peas are a favorite treat of all my dogs. I’m looking into ways to feed them all vegan food and to get that food from sources other than Petco and Petsmart.

  • Eric says:

    Interesting article. I found it looking for examples of people with vegan cats. I think its pretty obvious dogs like vegetarian food and can live fine on it. Cats kind of get the bums rush though. Everybody is such an expert on it but I can’t find anybody who has a vegan cat. One person on here said their cat didn’t do well on it 20 years ago…I am pretty sure if there was a market for it great vegan catfoods would be everywhere. Sadly, supply seems to create demand these days and people just go on believing whatever is popular. Cool Article. Cool Dog.

  • wendy hammond says:

    My dog loves fruit and veggies and is a healthy 13 years old.Vet approved.She has recently been tested for many senior dof ailments and is ailment free.I am a vegan so why buy meat etc if I do not need to.

  • Andrea Kantola says:

    I am not convinced that a vegan diet would be good for naturally carnivorous animals. Dogs and cats in the wild naturally hunt for their food. Imagine trying to convince wild lions to go vegan! where I also see the side of making pets go meetless, that is their natural food and I do not see any benefits to them in a vegan diet. Let them eat a diet relative to what they would have without human interference.

  • Jan Glover says:

    Julie, I have to say that far from this article being ridiculous, it is your comments that are verging on it. Firstly, humans were NOT designed to eat meat. All mammals with an appendix are vegetarian. This is the case right through nature – humans eat meat only because somewhere in our distant past someone found it tasted good. We are also the only species to drink the milk of another animal and eat produce made from it. Both these things are, therefore aside of being barbaric,quite clearly totally unatural. As for you comment on the increased waste of animal by-products, if no animals were bred for meat and dairy there would be nothing to waste! I do have dogs – rescue mongrels who are the by products of selective and irresponsible breeding. Although the world would be a much sadder place without them – I strive toward the day when breeding of ALL domestic animals ceases. Only then will their suffering end.
    I am not informed enough re a vegan diet for cats and dogs but will certainly be looking into it.
    Thankyou for an informative article.

  • Julia says:

    Dogs are not the ones producing carbon foot prints. We are. They obviously don’t drive cars, and eat whenever they want. I kind of think this article is ridiculous! As well as humans, they are supposed to eat meat. If you actually think about it, what you feed your dog and cat are mostly bi-products… If they don’t eat it then who does? It gets dumped, and it’s a waste of killing an animal for our food. Wow people go too far with animals. I don’t eat meat, nor do I want to, but think about how much you’ll have to waste if your dog or cat is a vegetarian. THAT should be considered…
    I’m not trying to be mean, but this only creates more waste…

  • Kim says:

    I am NOT convinced that enough studies have been done that prove a V-diet is safe for animals.

    You need to factor in age, breed as well as individual needs, just like humans.

    Saying that your dogs are “doing fine” is not scientific.

  • anja says:

    cats need taurine (is an essential nutritional requirement for them as they cannot synthesize it themselves and when deficient they go blind) taurine can be found in meat but there is synthetic taurine in (vegetarian) cat food.
    however the statement above: ‘It’s not like dogs and cats would have eaten canned beef or dried chicken kibble had we not domesticated them and bred them uncontrollably.’
    begs the question whether (undomesticated) dogs and cats would go for a vegetarian / vegan diet if they had the choice…
    personally i think they do not, and yes i am vegetarian myself 🙂

  • Kath Hewitt says:

    Both of my boys are on veterinary-based Medi-Cal vegetarian dogfood. It’s plant-based and naturally enriched with herbs, minerals and vitamins. They thrive on it, and never even notice that there’s no meat in their diet. Speak to your Vet .. let him know that you intend to buy from him exclusively and ask for an annual bulk discount. Most vets would be happy to oblige!

  • Kathleen says:

    Well I posted a comment earlier. But it was deleted. However, I wanted to correct myself on a previous statement. Apparently there is a vegetarian diet for dogs. Its made by Natural Balance. I guess some dogs are allergic to meat which I found rather interesting and would love to learn more on this subject.

  • Serena says:

    I use V-Dog, my dog loves it and has lost some unneeded pounds!

  • Rachel P says:

    Candice, cats cannot be healthy on a vegan diet. What I would recommend in its place would be to feed them a vegan canned food plus locally raised, organic free-range meat and eggs. That way, they are still getting the meat they must have to thrive, but you will know that the animals you are feeding them were raised in a much more sustainable manner than most dog foods. There are many dog and cat foods made from so-called humanely raised animals, which I have fed for years, but time has come where I do not trust meat products unless I can see the farm for myself and truly know for sure how the animals are raised. I now feed my dogs a vegan kibble and vegan canned, combined with local, organic grass-fed meat and eggs. That would be a great diet for cats as well, and it is immensely more healthy than any dry meaty kibble will ever be. Fresh is always better.

  • Lisa says:

    I have the same problem as Meems. I tried to feed my cat a vegan diet some 20 years ago and he got very unhealthy. On doing quite a bit of research, I conluded that cats are carnivores and cannot function on a vegan diet. I do my best by buying my cat meat from local farmers, but would also love to be proved wrong!

  • meems says:

    I’m mixed on the issue, while i definitely agree and believe that dogs can and wonderfully do exist on a vegan diet, i can’t say the same for cats. Everything i’ve read with the exception of this article, seems to state that cats can not exist on a vegan diet, and it is dangerous to subject them to one. But i would love to proved wrong on that one 🙂

  • michelle says:

    Both my dogs are now vegetarian and am pleased to say they are both doing very well, big appetites and perfect stools, lots of energy just fine. Its easy to find veggie food now for dog cats or even other animals online. I did from veggie pets.

  • Candice says:

    can you guarantee that a vegan diet is good for my male cat who has been hospitalized for urinary stones? cause the info I read is mixed, and every source that say’s it is okay is also selling it. does anyone know of an independent EXPERT source of info for vegan cats? I would LOVE to stop buying animal products to feed them!