Sunday, December 30, 2007

Meals to Share with Your Dog

We all have days when we hardly have time to cook for ourselves, never mind our dogs. Here are a few "Sable Tested/Sable Approved" healthy meals and snacks that the both of you can share.

Oatmeal (the real kind, not instant), mixed with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Mini Pita Pockets filled with hummus, sprouts, and veggies.

Pasta tossed with olive oil, minced garlic, and lightly steamed veggies (whole grain pasta is preferable to the "white" kind.)

Stirfried Veggies (no onions please!) and tofu served over brown rice.

Fruit smoothies (freeze some in ice cube trays to make individual "pupsicles" for the summer months.)

Natural Peanut Butter spread on whole grain toast.

Baked Sweet Potatoes make a lovely side dish for humans and dogs alike.

Popcorn (air popped) sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast is a fun snack for when you're watching movies together. (You do have movie nights with your dog, don't you? Sable prefers cheesy 80s comedies.)

Happy eating!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Fruits & Veggies- What to Feed, What to Avoid

Fresh fruits and veggies are an important part of your dog's healthy diet. They can also make great replacements for dog biscuits for pooches who are trying to slim down! The following fruits and veggies have many health benefits for dog (and humans!)
(Photo Disc)

Apples- good source of antioxidants
Green beans- great treat for overweight pups!
Sweet Potatoes- A good source of Vit A, Vit C, and fiber. Dehydrated sweet potatoes make wonderful "chew treats"
Cranberries- promote good urinary tract health
Bananas- good source of potassium
Carrots- good source of beta-carotine, make a nice crunchy treat
Blueberries- excellent source of antioxidants
Pumpkin- excellent fiber source, a spoonful of pumpkin can help with both diarrhea and constipation in dogs
Alfalfa- good source of Vit K, B Vitamins, and phytonutrients
Broccoli- great source of Vit C, Vit K, Vit A. May have anti-cancer properties. Can cause gas in large amounts, so you may want to limit your dog's broccoli intake!

What to avoid:
Onions- can cause Heinz-body anemia in dogs and cats
Grapes/Raisins- can cause renal failure in dogs, even in small amounts
*If your dog has arthritis* Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant- can exacerbate inflammatory conditions.

Other foods and environmental hazards to avoid can be found here.
I recommend you add the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline-(888) 426-4435- to your emergency numbers.

Notable Vegan Dogs

In 2002 it was widely reported that "the world's oldest living dog" was a 27 year old vegan border collie named Bramble.
"Aside from luck, Bramble's secret to longevity is a vegetarian diet. Ms. Heritage is a vegan and has brought up her pooch on the same diet regime she herself follows (although Bramble does wear a fur coat-but don't go pouring buckets of red paint on her for that little violation).

"She has a big bowl of rice, lentils and organic vegetables every evening," says Ms. Heritage."

(Quote from here, check it out to read more about Bramble!)

Another long-lived vegan dog was Tykie, who inspired his mom to begin selling a vegan dog food mix that you can cook up at home. Check out Tykie's site for articles and pictures of this scruffy pooch who lived to the ripe old age of 25 (boy is he cute)!

Sable says "Check back with me in 20 years!"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Vegan Dog Food Recipe #1

Mable's Veggie Loaf was the first vegan dog food recipe I ever used, and it's a good one to start with. The ingredients can all be found at your local health food store. I use pinto beans, lentils, or chickpeas generally, and usually green beans, peas, carrots, and a little bit of broccoli for the vegetables. I always use brown rice, as it is considered more nutritious than white rice. Please note, I have never used the optional ketchup, since I have not been able to find a ketchup that doesn't contain onion powder- a big no-no for dogs (and cats). I don't have loaf pans, so I use my glass baking pans, and it comes out just fine.

Here's what my loaves of Veggie Loaf generally look like when done:

And here we have a slice of Veggie Loaf, a Sam's Yam, and a couple of Mr. Pugsly's peanut butter biscuits.

Questions and Answers

Why is Sable a vegan? Well, once I went vegan, I couldn't justify continuing to feed my dog the carcasses of other animals. I couldn't say to the cows, pigs, fish, chickens, turkeys, lambs, etc. "Sorry, but I like my dog better than you. She lives, you die!" So, I did some research, found that dogs could successfully be fed a vegetarian or even vegan diet and made the switch.

Okay, but why homemade instead of commercial veg food? Two different answers for this one.
In General
: I did feed Sable commercial food in the beginning. Making her food myself was an option that didn't even cross my mind! But the more I researched dog nutrition, the less impressed I was with the foods available. Almost all the veg dog foods contained common canine food allergens, such as corn, wheat and soy. In addition, many of them used corn or wheat gluten meal as a cheap protein source. "Corn gluten meal" is defined as "The dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm." Yum. Some foods contained other troubling ingredients, such as grain "middlings" (which can literally be the sweepings off of the grain mill floor), and menadione sodium disulfate, a Vitmain K supplement which is currently causing much controversy. The last straw for me was the large pet food recall in March of 2007. Did I really trust the pet food companies and their suppliers with my dog's life? Wouldn't I feel safer knowing the quality of ingredients, and indeed even getting my hands into the food as I mixed it up myself?

Specifically Sable:
Sable exhibited some troubling problems on commercial food. One was vomiting bile several times a day. The other was coprophagia (eating of stool). The vomiting lessened once she was switched to veg kibble and canned food, but she still did it at least once daily, and the stool eating continued. Both stopped completely when she was switched to a 100% home cooked diet. Even now if I get lazy and feed her canned veg food for a couple of days, these problems reoccur. Obviously she does best on a diet made with wholesome, fresh foods.

But how do you know she's healthy? Sable gets a physical exam every year. This past year, I had a complete blood profile done on her, which confirmed her good health. Her weight is good, and her coat is soft and shiny. Her eyes are bright, with no trace of the "bluing" that most dogs begin to get at the age of 7. Her teeth are clean, with no tartar (I do brush her teeth a couple of times a week, with peanut butter or vanilla flavored dog toothpaste.) She spends her days chasing and wrestling with my dad's German Shepherd, who is half her age.

Does your vet know she is vegan? Yes. My vet does, as well as the vet at my work (I work at an animal shelter.) Both were understanding, although I have heard from many people whose vets told them that they "couldn't" feed dogs a veg diet. Please remember, vets do not have an extensive background in nutrition . In fact, most only attend a day seminar which is sponsored by one of the big pet food companies. Ever wonder why most vets sell a certain brand of pet food at their offices? Why, that would be like your own doctor selling a certain brand of "complete and balanced" cereal and convincing you that it is the best thing for you to eat every day (and in doing so, turning a tidy profit!)

Don't vegan dogs need special supplements? The only difference with dogs on a vegan diet is you need to make sure they are getting Vit B12, taurine, and L-carnitine. B12 can be supplied in fortified nutritional yeast, or in a vitamin form. Taurine and L-carnitine can be purchased at health food stores, or here, in a convenient powder form. According to the Vegan Dog Health Survey, the dosages for prevention of problems are 250 mg taurine and 500 mg L-carnitine for a 45 lb dog daily (Vegetarian Dogs gives the equation of 6 mg taurine and 11mg L-carnitine per lb of body weight). Like meat-eating dogs, vegan dogs need protein, fats, and a balanced calcium/phosphorus ratio. These are easy to obtain with a vegan diet.

I'm scared I'll mess something up! Don't worry! You don't sit around planning each of your meals and snacks, making sure they are all "100% complete and balanced" do you? Like with human meals, you just want to strive for balance over time. If you're still nervous, VegeDog Supplement is a powdered vitamin/mineral supplement that comes with recipes, so you don't have to worry about your dog "missing" something. (*Note-VegeDog contains taurine, but not l-carnitine as far as I know, so you'll still want to add that.) And the book Vegetarian Dogs contains many balanced recipes, along with basic nutrition information.

Sable Says "Vegan diets mean clean plates!"

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Hello! I'm Sable's mom, also known as Beth or raspberrycomplaint. Sable is my absolutely wonderful collie, whom I adopted almost 7 years ago. For the first 2 years, Sable ate a conventional diet of meat-based kibble. But then, 5 years ago, I made the decision to go vegetarian and then vegan (best decision I ever made!). This led to a dilemma: I no longer wanted to support the animal slaughter industry by buying meaty dog food, but I also wanted my dog to be happy an healthy. Could dogs possibly survive on a vegetarian or even vegan diet?

I immediately started researching the subject, only to find there weren't many resources available for people thinking of transitioning their dogs to a vegan diet. Googling "vegetarian dogs" brought up wildly conflicting opinions posted on various dog-related websites, none of which provided any constructive information to back them up. The first supportive articles I came across were on Peta's website. There I discovered two short articles (Meatless Meals for Dogs and Cats and Vegetarian Cats and Dogs) along with the Vegan Dog Health Survey. I was ecstatic, and immediately printed out the articles and survey, and put them in a special folder that I proudly marked "Vegetarian Dogs".

Through an advertising flyer for a local pet supply store, I discovered that there were actually a few brands of veg dog food already on the market, and some of these were available at my local store. I took a deep breath, bought a bag of veg kibble, and began to transition my dog to her new diet.

Meanwhile, I continued to search for any and all info related to veggie dogs. Over the years, I was able to compile quite a few useful websites, and my "Vegetarian Dogs" folder was becoming quite full. With this blog, I hope to bring all this information to you in a convenient manner. I have numerous links on the side of the blog, and will also post anything I think might be of interest to the guardians of vegan dogs. Sable is fed homemade vegan food now, so many of the posts do focus on that aspect. Popular posts include Questions & Answers, Vegan Dog Chews, Commercial Vegan Treats, and Vegan Dog Books. Of course I suggest that you read all the posts!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment. And if you just want to leave a comment to say "hi" and to talk about your veggie dog, that is great too!