Can German Shepherd Dogs eat grapes?

Can dogs be fed a vegan diet?



Can dogs be vegan?


In the course of a steadily growing population, we are seeing a trend towards a more sustainable lifestyle. And in times of COVID-19, many people are rethinking how they deal with the environment and animals. Diet plays an essential role in this.


As more and more people follow a vegan lifestyle, plant-based dog food is also gaining in popularity.


But the dog is descended from the wolf, which is considered a carnivore. With this in mind, many of us wonder whether a plant-based diet is healthy for dogs.


Interview with an expert on vegan dog food:


We spoke to Leni Lecker - the founder of Vegan4Dogs - to find out more about plant-based dog food:


  1. Vegan4Dogs was founded in 2014. Can you tell us more about how the idea of ​​making vegan dog food came about?


In December 2012 Edgar vom Falkenberg, our black Labrador-Shepherd mix, called Eddie, came to us from the Berlin animal shelter. I myself have been vegan since August 2012 and out of curiosity I researched whether you can also feed dogs plant-based. In my research I found out that the dog is not a carnivore, but an omnivore.


The vegan ready-made feeds at the time did not convince Eddie or us, and because I have a special passion for cooking and also want to know exactly what is in the feed, I wanted to cook for Eddie myself.

You need a supplement to cook it yourself, which e.g. supplies vitamins B12 and D. The only product for this on the market came from the USA, was always difficult to find and did not quite meet our expectations. We then developed V-Complete for our own needs, because other people in Germany and Europe also want to cook for their dog themselves. We wanted to offer a contemporary product that corresponds to the current scientific standards. Among other things, we took advice from the veterinary department of the Free University of Berlin, worked with a veterinarian and took into account the specialist literature.


The advantage of cooking for yourself is that every owner can cater to their dog's preferences and add a bit of variety to the menu. Incompatibilities can also be taken into account in this way.


Since you don't always have time to cook yourself (although the food can be prepared very well for a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator), we wanted to offer dry food. After a few test productions, Greta found the final recipe. Eddie and Vriends are of course always the test eaters. Without their OK, nothing works. The fine-tuning of spices and nutrients is particularly important to me. That's why Greta also wandered into the laboratory for a comprehensive analysis. Because food not only has to taste good, which is of course very important, it also has to contain all the necessary nutrients and be well tolerated.

Our wet food Pauline was recently added, which we have developed with a lot of patience and love. Here, too, a number of attempts in the kitchen were necessary and sometimes we almost wanted to give up, because it took 2 1/2 years for all factors such as consistency, taste, smell, appearance, nutrients and piles of poop to meet my expectations. Such a dog food is more than the sum of the individual ingredients, because the many experts (animal as well as human) have to be brought together.

  1. How do you feel about the market development of plant-based dog food in Germany and globally?


A lot has happened there lately. When we started in 2014, with V-Complete we were the first in Europe to offer a dietary supplement for homemade vegan dog food. Greta was also the first vegan dry complete food for dogs from a vegan company in Germany.

More and more dog owners are open to vegetable food for dogs. This means that other manufacturers also focus on the topic.

The owners' interest in vegan dog food is due, among other things, to health issues. We have many customers whose dogs do not tolerate animal ingredients and are therefore dependent on plant-based food, even if the owners themselves are not vegans. Despite all that, we are still a small group of interested and courageous people who have set out on this path, but every new development has started small. We are confident that our 'Animals Say Yeah!' Vision will come true.


  1. Why do dog owners feed their dogs plant-based?


There are various reasons. Number one is: Because the love for animals doesn't stop at the dog.

Then there are health reasons that suggest a vegan diet, such as: B. allergies, but also leishmaniasis, as we were able to experience with Eddie ourselves. After we took him out of the shelter, it soon turned out that he has leishmaniasis, a disease that causes open wounds and hair loss, among other things. Eddie benefited from the lower purine content of the plant-based diet. His complexion has improved extremely, which has also been confirmed by many other dog owners of their dogs.

The dog's better body odor is another reason not to be despised to feed your dog vegan.

A vegan diet is also interesting for dogs with constipation, as more fiber increases the volume of the stool, the consistency is a little softer and the faster passage of food in the intestines makes it easier to wean stool.


  1. How did you create the recipe for your dog food products? Do you work with experts (veterinarians and nutritionists)? And do they support vegan feeding?


We initially developed the recipes based on our experience and needs and then coordinated them with the experts from the animal nutrition sector. For me, the motto for nutritional additives such as vitamins and co .: “As much as necessary, as little as possible”. I am the expert in the field of vegan and my consultants are experts in the field of conventional animal nutrition. Both sides can learn from each other. For example, the additives of carnitine, taurine and essential amino acids such as methionine and tryptophan, which are not necessarily on the agenda in the conventional area, are important to me. Some of our consultants are also rather skeptical about the vegan diet. I think that's basically good, because it allows for and against - based on scientific knowledge and experience - to be discussed. But even the skeptics see a plant-based diet as beneficial in some cases (e.g. health reasons).


  1. What are the main ingredients, vitamins and minerals that vegan dog food should contain in order to provide our four-legged friends with all the necessary nutrients?


The vegan dog food is composed in a similar way to the human one. The main components are protein source, carbohydrate source, vegetables / fruits and fat. Dogs need more protein than we humans because they have a lot more hair, which is made from proteins. Legumes such as peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas are suitable sources of protein. Seeds such as sunflower seeds, hemp seeds or flax seeds also provide proteins and can be ground and added to the feed. The legumes should be chopped up, as the dog tends not to chew and the pods remain closed and can hinder digestion. As a source of carbohydrates you can use pasta, couscous, bulgur or gluten-free z. For example, feed rice, polenta, fried sweet potatoes and millet. There are hardly any limits when it comes to vegetables and fruit. Some dogs like sweet things like bananas or fresh things like cucumber. Eddie disdains that, for example. Carrots, kohlrabi and beetroot are very popular with him. What should be avoided are grapes, avocado, garlic, onions and chocolate.

Furthermore, there is still fat in the feed, which supplies essential fatty acids and serves as an energy source. Fat is digested very well and can be used to add caloric value to the feed. Rapeseed oil, linseed oil, safflower oil or corn oil are particularly suitable. When cooking yourself, a supplement such as V-Complete should be used, which, in addition to the classic vegan vitamin B 12, also contains minerals such as calcium and trace elements such as copper. This completes the homemade dog meal. A vegan complete food like Greta and Pauline already contains all the necessary nutrients so that nothing more has to be fed.


  1. At Pawshake, we connect pet parents with loving and experienced local pet sitters who are a great alternative to local kennels and pet hotels. If our dog sitters had to prepare a quick and nutritious meal for their host dog, what would one of your favorite homemade recipes be?


Then I think of a delicious and quick recipe. Supplemented with V-Complete to round off the meal.


Sweet potatoes

With browned lentils and kohlrabi corners

1 daily portion for a 15 kg dog



430g cooked brown lentils, e.g. B. from the can

200g sweet potato

120g kohlrabi

10g rapeseed oil

10g linseed oil

about 2g salt


Yeast flakes


6g V-Complete



The menu can be prepared as quickly as lightning if you want to go faster.


Help the sweet potato from the skin, cut into slices and brown on both sides in the rapeseed oil (do not heat the oil above the smoke point). Salt lightly. Now the kitchen smells wonderful. Put it in the bowl and let it cool down. You can also taste a corner.

Puree the lentils, I have a moulinette for this, but a fork will do the same. It is important that the pods burst open so that the lentils can be digested. Mix the cumin, V-Complete, yeast flakes, salt and linseed oil with the lentils. If you're using canned lentils, it's best to check to see if they already contain salt.

As soon as the sweet potatoes have cooled down, add the lentils to the bowl. Finally, peel the kohlrabi and cut into neat triangles.


Voilà - already done. Now you can sniff.


You can also find this and other recipes on the Vegan4Dogs website and maybe now is the right time to try a few of these or take a look at our online shop.

  1. Another popular type of feeding is the so-called BARF diet. What do you think of “biologically appropriate raw food feeding” compared to plant-based feeding?


Dogs have lived with humans for around 30,000 years and have adapted to their diet since then. Scientists at Uppsala University found out in 2013 that the dog has acquired the ability to digest starch compared to the wolf. This makes a plant-based diet possible.

If we look back on the recent past, when meat was still a luxury good for humans, the dogs only got the bones from the Sunday roast. Even at that time, the dog was mainly a vegetarian. If it lived in the wild, it would hardly kill a pig, cattle or even horse and ostrich, which are not uncommon in conventional feeding (including barfish). On the menu, carrion and small animals such as rats, which can be killed yourself, and human waste would be more likely. The bottom line is that everyone has to reconcile this with their own understanding and level of knowledge for themselves and their dog. For me personally, BARF excludes itself because my love for animals does not stop with dogs.


  1. Can vegan dog nutrition also have disadvantages? Are there any instances when a plant-based diet for dogs might not be a good idea?


Of course there can be exclusion criteria. If the dog doesn't like it, don't force it. The challenge for me is then to find the right recipes that the dog likes.

But there are also diseases that make a vegan diet more difficult, such as B. Kidney problems. Here I would recommend a nutritional consultation that creates tailored recipes for the respective dog. Such a ration calculation is also useful for pregnant or lactating bitches as well as growing dogs, as they have an increased nutritional requirement that is not covered by our products. Greta, Pauline and V-Complete are tailored to the nutritional needs of adult, healthy dogs.

Plant-based nutritional advice offers z. B. Veterinarian Lisa Walther or veterinarian Dr. Romberger at.


  1. What should be considered when switching from conventional dog food to vegan dog food?


It makes sense to slowly “sneak in” the new food. More and more parts of the new feed are mixed with the previous feed and this is slowly replaced. The dog has time to adjust to the new diet, both physically and in terms of taste. Because like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. In some cases you should be patient and not give up immediately.

In any case, your own positive attitude towards food is helpful. It makes a huge difference whether I offer the dog its new food with enthusiasm or with a guilty conscience and worry.

What the dog often has fun is getting to know his food in a playful way through a food ball or looking for it. For example, I like to hide Eddie's bowl in the apartment and then let him look for it. This makes the feed something special. And it also trains its “nose skills”.

Eating together with a dog friend is of course always a special motivation to get to know a new food.

What surprises many is the increased amount of stool compared to conventional feed. The consistency of the dog poop is also a little softer. But that slowly levels off over time.


  1. What future plans do you have with Vegan4Dogs? Do you plan to expand your range?


We have a lot of ideas. But we have also found that it takes time to turn such ideas into reality. For us, the result and quality are always more important than the fastest possible implementation. Let yourself be surprised.

Click here for the English interview: