The Pet Dog Dilemma

by Leisa on January 17, 2011

For quite a long time I’ve been living in apartments without pets – which makes me wonder what I’ve been doing – as I am a huge animal lover and grew up with a menagerie.

My plan by the end of the year is to be on an acreage again and to start building up my animal family, however I am faced with a bit of a dilemma over owning a pet dog or two.  I love and adore dogs, they are such loyal and gentle companions and the very best of friends. I remember growing up with our golden labrador Nina (named after the Abba song Nina, Pretty Ballerina – go figure!) – picture below – and she would always run at the heels of our horses when my sister and I went riding. We would often canter our horses around the outside of a huge exercise area, and we tried to get Nina to sit in the middle and watch us from there, rather than following us round and round that big paddock- but she wouldn’t leave our side.

So, my question is, how do vegans deal with owning dogs?  They eat meat. It takes a lot of dead animals to feed our pet dogs, and that just doesn’t sit quite right with me.  And no, I don’t have any illusions about turning a dog vegetarian – that is not natural and I wouldn’t support that. However it seems to be an moral and ethical dilemma, and I would love to know how dog owning vegans deal with that issue.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please comment below!



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Angela Hing February 6, 2011 at 4:02 am

Wow, I am really (not) surprised no vegan has answered this blog post. I’m not vegan anymore – I eat a small amount of fish and free range eggs, but otherwise my diet is very low sugar, unprocessed plant foods. However, I have 2 dogs and 4 cats….at the moment the best I can do is give my dogs a wholesome diet which is actually similar to mine – they either get sardines or kangaroo meat, with a raw egg, and lots of vegetable juice pulp or grated vegetables, a few supplements (kelp or dulse, probiotic powder, fermented vegetables) and cod liver or fish oil. I’m not happy about the kangaroo meat, but from a nutrition perspective, it is good for the dogs. I won’t give them commercial meats at all, nor commercial dog foods. I cannot afford VeganPet dog biscuits, but am looking for a similar product (ie low or no meat content). I do give the dogs bones, but a lot of the time this is from animals that have died in the bush or are roadkill. For now, that is the best I can do. It’s the cats I have a bigger problem with, and I figure if I have carnivorous animal companions, that’s the price I pay. I won’t make my animals vegan – it is not natural, and nearly every vegan cat I’ve seen is the same – dull, ‘stary’ coat, weepy eyes, underweight, depressed/unmotivated. The only exceptions to this were cats that had just started on the diet.
I admit, it’s a difficult situation, and I am still searching for a better solution, but always with the thought that the nutritional needs of my animals come first. The only other option is to avoid cats and dogs as companions..

catherine brown February 6, 2011 at 7:33 am

I think doing what is ‘natural’ is not necessarily the most compassionate way to behave… and for me, not causing animal suffering is more important than doing what is natural. Therefore, I would suggest that breeding and killing an animal for food is more cruel than feeding a well treated pet an alternative diet (assuming all its nutritional needs are met with the alternative food). However, I haven’t adopted any new pets since becoming vegan, and I’m not sure that I will considering this issue… Maybe research is needed on vegetarian and/or vegan cats and dogs in order to find out whether they really can thrive on these alternative diets.

Candy February 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

Ani Phyo has a section in her book about what she feeds Kanga her raw vegan dog.
Might be worth a read.

Catherine February 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm

My animal companion loved Ani Phyo’s raw vegan dog recipes; however, after ingesting the recipes exclusively for about a month became quite unwell. At such time I transitioned to He thrived.

shakti February 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm

hello – i don’t have a pet or am i a committed vegan – but i thought it perhaps worth mentioning i am very good friends with a respected animal communicator and shaman here in australia – a wise woman that is herself vegan – she rescues and cares for many animals ranging from wild brumbies to baby goats and has many dogs and cats herself – my understanding is that she feeds the dogs and cats (and maybe all animals in her stewardship) a vegan diet and supplements and uses essential oils and natural remedies and all the animals are in shining health – so i wonder how her program fits in to the idea that vegan animals are unhealthy –
have a lovely day

Sharon Colicchia February 13, 2011 at 3:47 am

Hey Leisa,
I am not a vegan, yet wanted to share my thoughts on this as I still struggle with this topic of pets. We used to share our home with our cat Carla of 13 years and our pug Pandora of 5 years, who we rescued. They both brought us immense joy and connection, however when we adapted a wholefood way of living, I really started to struggle with their meals, especially since we did not eat any form of meat. Once we were well into our journey of wholefoods, it was a natural progression to no longer feed them any more cannned or dried foods, plus it would not of been their selection in the wild. We purchased chicken necks or raw meats. From this stage, the purchasing to the handling of the meat really began to disturbed me to the point where I could no longer go inside the butchers well alone feed Pandora and Carla even though we incorporated wholefoods into their diet as well. Now, I am not only a wholefoodie for health reasons but for many reasons and one being for animal treatment & compassion, I feel such immense sadness when I think of how as a society treats and kills animals for food. I raised my standards and no longer wanted any form of meat to enter into our home. Also what also entered my consciousness was that when I looked around me, I noticed a lot of pets that were sick and that the veterinary industry thrives on sickness, just like our health system. I feel when we start to domesticate animals, they become sick as they don’t live like that in the wild.
Another thing that has popped into my mind is that when we have pets we feed them at certain times, yet they don’t have set meal times in the wild, sometimes they may go for a while without eating, they are indoctrinated into our way of living with our societies food standards!
Carla and Pandora recently left us for the stars and this created an opportunity to sit in our feelings. From this, we realised that we will not be inviting any more animals into our home as we actually brought on the disease created in their bodies due to our way of living, especially before our wholefood days. I shudder when I reflect on the can cat and dog food meals we fed them, it makes me feel sick! Hey that is another story……..
Warmly, Shaz x

Leisa March 2, 2011 at 7:46 am

Dear Shaz,
Thanks for sharing such a powerful message and giving us some insight into what you went through in your journey with your beautiful pets. I appreciate you being so honest in your message and it certainly gives me a lot to think about with my decision as to whether to own a dog or not. Thank you so much.

Leisa March 2, 2011 at 7:47 am

Thanks for sharing that Shakti – I guess like anything it comes down to the quality of the food and that all the dietary needs are met. I haven’t looked into feeding dogs a vegan diet as yet – that is something I will study as I get closer to making a decision, but it is good to know that it can be done. Thanks!

Leisa March 2, 2011 at 7:54 am

Hi Catherine,
Thanks for your message – I really get exactly what you are saying – and I totally agree. Breeding and killing an animal to feed a domesticated pet is a big issue for me, and yes, I think more research is needed. From the other comments here, I see that it can be done, but whether I want to feed a dog a vegan diet is something I will have to decide after more evaluation.

Leisa March 2, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hi Angela,
Thanks so much for your amazing message, I really appreciate the thought you’ve put into this issue. As you said it is a difficult situation and one that I will be researching in more detail. You sound like you’re doing a great job with your dogs – let me know if you ever come up with any other solutions!

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