Thursday, February 21, 2008

Veganizing Your Pets

You switched to a vegan diet, but you're still feeding your pets a meat-based diet. Why? Have you wondered why our pets are dying from the same diseases we are? Because they're eating the same crap most of us are.

My dog was euthanized at the early age of nine. He had tumors growing all over his body and had developed cancer. I blame this on the crappy food he was fed (Science Diet). I'm sure many of you are aware of the horrors of the pet food industry, especially with the mass recalls not too long ago. But, are you aware that many pet food companies have relationships with veterinary colleges? They use these relationships to push products on soon-to-be veterinarians. For example, Hill's Pet Nutrition, the company that owns Science Diet, "provides financial and educational support to nearly every veterinary college in North America, as well as to veterinary students attending those institutions. This commitment to the profession includes Hill's sponsored teaching programs, residencies and faculty programs in veterinary schools and teaching hospitals all over the world" (DVM News Magazine, August 2004).

Anyway, after going vegan, I realized it was time to move my dog to a vegan diet as well. Meet Reilly (he's on your left). Reilly is eight years old and has been on a vegan diet for five years. He actually does a lot better on vegan food. He used to throw up after eating his meat-based food and was never too excited about eating. Since switching him to Evolution, he gets very excited about eating and never gets sick. I feel so much better feeding him quality food, made without animal byproducts, growth hormones, and animal testing.

Reilly's food regimen

Reilly is fed twice a day. As I mentioned above, I feed him Evolution Gourmet Pasta Dog Kibble. Moist food is much better for your pets, so I always soak it. I pour a bunch of kibble into his bowl and add just enough steam-distilled water to cover the kibble. I let this soak for at least 15 minutes. Then, I add a little Green Mush, made by Health Force (I love this company). In the morning, I also add one serving of vegetarian glucosamine. I give him glucosamine because 1) he had distemper as a puppy and 2) big dogs are more prone to joint and back problems (he's 80 pounds). He goes crazy for this food and looks forward to breakfast and dinner.

Now, onto the cats (I live with two cats). This is Owen. He is five years old and has been on a vegan diet for four years. We rescued Owen from a chain smoker who, because she forced him to live in a smoke-filled house, gave him breathing problems. His wheezing has improved, but he still wheezes a lot.

Like many other vegans, we started him out on a meat-based diet because we heard rumors of cats not being able to be vegan. Well, I'm here to tell you that's just false. Owen is a healthy cat, aside from the wheezing, and is obsessed with his food. When it's time to eat, he won't stop whining until he's fed. Like Reilly, he enjoys his vegan food better than the standard diet he was on before.

Owen's food regimen

Owen is also fed twice a day. I feed him Evolution Gourmet Pasta Cat Kibble. Moist food is even more important for cats in order to prevent urinary tract infections, so his food is always soaked. (See my previous post on preventing urinary tract infections in cats.) I soak Owen's food much longer than Reilly's because 1) I try to feed him as quickly as possible to minimize whining and 2) I really don't want him to get urinary tract infections. He's a male tabby, so he's very prone to them.

So, here's what I do: I mix 1 1/2 parts kibble with 1 part water and store it in the fridge. When it's time for him to eat, I add some of the food to his bowl and combine with Green Mush and Enzymes pH. Enzymes pH is made by a company called All the Best Pet Care, located here in Seattle. The product is not currently sold anywhere online, but you can order directly from them via phone. I know Vegan Essentials is currently working on getting the product, so hopefully we can expect it to be online in the near future. If you can't come across Enzymes pH, see my prior post on preventing urinary tract infections for a homemade substitute you can use instead.

The youngest in the family is Delilah. She's about four months old and still very much a kitten. I spoke with a vegan veterinarian about her diet, who recommended I feed her Vegekit, made by Harbingers of a New Age, at least until she is one. Vegekit is properly formulated for kittens and is better for cats under one year of age than Evolution. When she turns one, I'll be switching her to Evolution.

Delilah's food regimen

Delilah is fed twice a day. As I mentioned above, I feed her Vegekit. Just like Owen, she goes crazy when it's time to eat. The combination of two cats whining hysterically sometimes drives me a little crazy. She's just so cute, so she's gets away with murder. So, here's how I feed her: I used to follow the standard recipe in the Vegekit instructions for making kibble, but after doing that twice it proved to be a major hassle. So, I now make her food using the Chickpea Tofu recipe, also available in the Vegekit instructions. The ingredients are basically chickpeas, tofu, yeast powder, oil, and Vegekit. I add everything into the food processor and blend. It's much easier. When serving her food, I sprinkle a little nutritional yeast on top, which she really loves.

The importance of water

It's very important to give your pets fresh, clean water. I give them only steam-distilled water, made by my Waterwise 8800. This is also what I exclusively drink, as our tap water is full of contaminants and Brita filters don't remove much. I use the Drinkwell Pet Fountain and small bowls as water sources for my cats.

Products I recommend

Below is a list of products I mentioned above and highly recommend.

Trusted companies I order from

Below is a list of trusted companies I order from.

Do any of your pets follow vegan diets? Do you have any questions about switching them to vegan diets? Please feel free to comment. I'm more than happy to help you in any way I can.


Happy Herbivore! said...

My Pugs are 100% vegan.

Their favorites are: carrots, asparagus, apples, PB &

Since I can't always prepare a fresh meal for them (though i do try) they also love Vdog (vegan dogfood)

Happy Herbivore! said...

also, when quaid was on hollistic meat-dog food he used to get bad infections in his wrinkle and now that he's vegan his wrinkle is under control. Sure all pugs do get wrinkle gunk, that part of the breed, however Quaid's has decreased dramatically and it doesn't smell bad (it used to be very stinky). My dogs also no longer have constapation problems.

Quaid is 3 but vegan for 6 mos and Lily is 1 but has been vegan for most of her life. Ever since we got her, pretty much. Quaid's coat never shined the way it does now that he's vegan and they LOVE veggies and fruit!

Billy said...

Thanks for sharing Happy Herbivore. I always love to meet new people who also feed their companion animals vegan diets.

I also give Reilly fresh foods. Whenever I'm making something with carrots, I have to cut up an additional one just for him. He hears a carrot being cut and gets excited.

Anonymous said...

Dog are meant to eat meat. It's the high grain content and the way the meat is processed that makes so many commercial dog foods bad for them. Dogs do not even have the enzyme in their saliva that we do for digesting carbs. They are not made the same as humans and should not eat the same way.

Billy said...

"It's the high grain content and the way the meat is processed that makes so many commercial dog foods bad for them."

Or, maybe it's the discarded animal parts and euthanized dogs and cats that end up in the food. The pet food industry is disgusting.

Also, I refuse to support the meat and dairy industries in any way, which is why my pets are vegan.

Anonymous said...

My dog is vegan too. She has been for the almost 3 years I've had her since I got her from the shelter. She absolutely loves her V-Dog food that I usually mix with water and brewer's yeast to help fend off pesky fleas. I can't even count how many times people have complimented me on her shiny coat-generally the result of a healthy diet. Additionally she's healthy as can be. She goes running or biking with me almost every day and has had very few health problems. Even when my roommate's dog got kennel cough, which is highly contagious, Adia did not get it even though she was not vaccinated against it.
From everything I've read dogs are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they pretty much eat whatever they can find. A carnivorous diet is not healthy for dogs. And while it may be true that dogs can have meat in their diet, when looking at the diseased animal parts, other euthanized domestic pets, and poisoned and drugged remnants of the meat industry present in commercial dog food I have no doubt that a vegan diet is much healthier for dogs. That being completely separate from the ethical considerations of killing one animal we classify as food to feed another animal we classify as pet or companion.

Billy said...

Thanks for sharing. It's great to meet someone else who feeds their dog a vegan diet. Another thing that will help with a dog's coat is flax. Try mixing in ground flaxseed with her food.

I think that's a good way to put it: opportunistic carnivores.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am not totally feeding my dogs a vegan diet because I am concerned about my little adopted dog because her urine is already too alkaline with Ph 8.5 and some crystals but NO infection in the year I have had her. My holistic vet did recommend keeping the diet more acid by adding meat. Btw I never feed any bagged/canned dead food. Most of the vegan foods have indigestible ingredients like corn/soy/wheat which is disappointing so if anyone has any recipes for DIY dog food please post them. Thanks

Carlos said...

to Anonymous an dispel myths: Dogs can and DO in fact digest corn, in particular ground corn. In fact, corn in the ground state (as used in dog foods) is 91% digestible. Soy is another digestible food for dogs. One thing that helps dogs on a vegetarian diet is the use of enzymes such as bromelain or papain. Dogs on a vegetarian diet will also benefit from supplementation with Taurine and Carnitine (or their precursors). I know people in countries like India who have had vegetarian dogs live until very old. My two cents

Anonymous said...

Please, for people who love their cats, check with your vet. Cats are carnivores and cannot live as a vegans. You might think they will be healthy, but there will be long term affects.

Human beings can live healthy lives as vegetarians or vegans. Cats cannot. I'm not a dog person, but I've also read that dogs too cannot live on vegan diets alone. If you don't believe me, please consult your vet.

If you love your cat but cannot bear feeding it meat food, you should consider giving him/her up to someone who can.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and btw, even has acknowledged that cats need meat.

The more time passes, the more research I assume will come to the fore that it is inhumane and abuse to try to make your cat eat a vegan diet.

Kelly said...


Hopefully you still check the comments on this page because I could use some advice! My boyfriend's mom just found a male kitten and she would like me to take him when I go back to school in about a month. I really want him to be vegan, but I'm pretty nervous because he is a male. I was reading your website, so I was going to buy Vegekit and then the Enzymes pH. I was reading the Vegekit instructions, and it said for male kittens you can mix 1/2 Vegekit and 1/2 Vegecat pH. I am unsure if I should do this and add the Enzymes pH? I really do not want him to have any urinary problems at all, but I am not sure if using both the enzymes and the Vegecat pH is overdoing it (and will make it too low of a pH). Also how will I know if something is wrong? Can I buy pH strips to try and monitor his urine?


Billy said...

Hi Kelly,

That's wonderful that you're getting a cat and want to make him vegan. Good for you. It's important to sever all ties with the animal abuse industries.

I'd recommend doing what I did with my kitten. Check out my post on making vegan kitten food. That recipe is the easiest and utilizes Vegekit.

You're correct in assuming that you'd also add Enzymes pH. I'd highly recommend that for a male cat. All male cats are prone to urinary tract infections. This is not due to a vegan diet.

I'd highly recommend using Enzymes pH. If you live in or near Seattle you can buy it in the store All The Best Pet Care. Otherwise, you can contact them and pay with a card over the phone and have them ship it. I did that once when I lived in DC.

I have experience with that product and it has worked wonders with my male cat.

When the kitten reaches 9 months, feel free to switch to Evolution kibble. Be sure to follow the instructions and soak the food, however.

Feel free to email me (via the Email me link on my blog homepage) if you have any other questions.

Meghan said...

Hi Billy -- Thank you so much for posting this information! DH and I (both vegan) are getting a rescue kitty and have found your posts about vegan cat food so helpful; we've had other herbivorous pets (exotics) before, but never a cat. Believe me, we're doing our due diligence on having a vegan cat, and your posts have helped us tremendously.

FYI to all readers: I called All The Best Pet Care to try to order their Enzymes pH product. (We live on the east coast and must have it shipped to us.) They seemed confused that I would possibly want to place an order over the phone and gave me a bit of a run-around, but I eventually got some useful info after calling a few of their branches.

If you want to place a phone order with them for Enzymes pH (or any other product), you must call their Lake City location:

All The Best Pet Care - Lake City
8050 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Store Hours:
Weekdays 9:30-7
Saturday 10-6
Sunday 10-5

The associate I spoke with at this location said that their store manager, Lucy, handles all phone orders. Her direct line is 206-282-5622.

Billy, this relates to Kelly's question above: If we get a female cat (at least 9 mos.), would it be overkill to make the garbanzo-tofu mix with Vegecat pH and add Enzymes pH?

Happy veganizing, everyone! Thanks again, Billy!

Meghan said...

Addendum to my question to you, Billy: We would also be feeding said female cat Evolution kibble (soaked, of course) but would also like to offer her the Vegecat pH mix. So my question is: Do we need to add Enzymes pH to either her soaked kibble or her Vegecat pH mix?


saui said...

Great article! I found a kitten that i decided to keep and have been researching veg diets. I know it's super easy for dogs (oldest dog is/was 27 named bramble - a vegan dog with no health issues -google it) but cats are a bit more complex. I know some vegans that feed their cats diff vegan diets with the supplements like taurine and the like. All i know is getting my kitten off these human consumption meat rejects is a must! i feel bad for its current diet which is gross by products that can even be cancerous. Thanks so much for the info!