Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Basic Canine Nutrition Guidelines

I always advise learning basic dog nutrition requirements, especially when you are home cooking your dog's diets. A really basic primer on dog nutrient requirements is available here, from the National Resource Council (PDF file). It uses info taken from the NRC's Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, which is now available as a comprehensive book- for $265.00! (Personally, I'll stick with the free info!)

A few of the books listed in my last post give some basic nutrition info, either for dogs in general, or geared towards veggie dogs in particular. There is also a lot of information available online, but always consider the source, and remember anyone can toss some words on a webpage and call them "facts". You can check out the links I have posted on the side of this blog, many of the sites discuss veg dog nutrition.

The Vegan Dog Nutrition Association will have an online "Vegan Dog Nutrition Course" in the future, for a "suggested donation" of $25 or more.

I personally have taken a pet nutrition course sponsored by a pet food company. (It was made available for vet techs and others who work with animals.) I had to wade though a lot of promotional info, but I was able to learn about the digestive system, energy requirements, and nutrient requirements for different lifestyles and lifestages. I have 2 notebooks filled with notes, which I refer back to often. It really is worth it to learn this stuff.

Lastly, will give you the nutrient profiles of individual foods. You can also have recipes analyzed to find their nutritional data.

Happy learning!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book Round-Up!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I actually had this one all written up, took me an hour to do it, and then my stupid elbow hit the keyboard and the whole post got deleted! So, here we go again...

Today we will be looking at books that promote (or at least are accepting of) veg diets for dogs. If you have to pick and choose, the first two books listed are essential for guardians of vegan dogs and cats.

First up is Obligate Carnivore: Cats, Dogs, and What it Really Means to be Vegan by Jed Gillen. If you have vegan pets, or are considering switching your pets to a vegan diet, you need to read this book. It discusses the ethical arguments for putting pets on a vegan diet and refutes the misconceptions that many people have on this topic. UPDATE: Now available in an updated and expanded 2nd edition!

Then we have Vegetarian Cats & Dogs by James Peden (one of the developers of the VegeDog and VegeCat supplements), which is currently only available on CD-ROM. UPDATE: I have been able to obtain a used copy of the print version of this book. The copy I have is from 1992. It covers the reasons why people might choose vegan diets for pets, basic nutrition info, has stories of people who have been successful feeding a veg diet to their dogs and cats, and lists and refutes common arguments against veg pets. This book has tons of good info, and I recommend picking it up. It wasn't easy to find an affordable print copy, so the cd version is probably your best bet.

There is also an older book called Dogs and Cats Go Vegetarian by Barbara Lynn Peden. This one is currently out of print, but you can locate used copies online. The one I have is from 1988 and mostly discusses the history of the VegePet supplements, along with the reasons people have veg pets, some basic nutrition info, and recipes meant to be used in conjunction with the VegePet supplements.

Next is Vegetarian Dogs: Toward a World Without Exploitation by Verona reBow and Jonathan Dune. This book has basic nutrition info for dogs, as well as vegan dog food recipes and a few stories of the authors' vegan dogs.

UPDATE: There is a new e-book, Vegan Dogs: Compassionate Nutrition by James O'Heare. It has in-depth nutrition information for vegan dogs, discusses feeding a homemade diet, and includes a balanced recipe. According to the introduction, the book will be updated periodically, as new information becomes available. The book itself is free, however if you find it useful, please consider donating to the Vegan Dog Nutrition Association.

UPDATE: A brand new book about vegan dogs, is now available. The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book contains information on vegan diets, expert opinions from vets, and many recipes.

UPDATE: Another brand new book, It's A Vegan Dog's Life is now available! It covers lots of topics and has over 50 vegan treat recipes.

I also have a few books that, while they aren't specifically about veg diets for dogs, are supportive of the idea.

First is the classic Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, Ph.D. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. The book is a great resource on natural health and nutrition. There is a section on vegetarian diets for dogs with some ovo-lacto veg recipes, and even a section on why people should go veg! The book is not as supportive of vegan diets, but it is amazing for a vet to promote even ovo-lacto diets in such a popular book. The copy I have is the 2nd edition, printed in 1995, the 3rd edition printing is available now.

Another "natural health" book is The Complete Holistic Dog Book: Home Health Care for Our Canine Companions by Jan Allegretti and Katy Sommers, DVM. Both of the authors are vegetarian, and one of them has a vegetarian dog. The book has a section on vegetarian diets for dogs (which includes the wonderful quote "many dogs actually blossom when switched to a meatless regimen",) and has a short section on what the authors feed their own dogs.

There are many books out there about home-cooking for dogs and dog nutrition. One that is frequently recommended is Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets by Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, Ph.D. It includes basic nutrition information for dogs and cats, info on cooking for your pet, and recipes. There are several veg recipes for dogs and puppies, some of which are vegan except for the use of bonemeal as the calcium source. If one wanted to, one could certainly calculate the amount of calcium in each bonemeal dosage and substitute with a vegan calcium supplement.

I also have two vegan dog cookbooks. One is the Yummy for Dogs cookbook, which I already mentioned a few posts down. It has tons of recipes for meals and treats, for all occasions. They are all vegan, except for a couple of recipes that use honey.

The second cookbook I have is The Wholesome Dog Biscuit: A Barker's Dozen. This is a great resource for dogs with allergies, as all the recipes are wheat and corn free and most are soy free. It has 13 vegan dog treat recipes, with helpful info on the easiest way to prepare and bake dog biscuits, as well as short articles on safe and toxic foods for dogs, dealing with food allergies in dogs, and living with vegan dogs.

It seems veggie dogs are becoming more widely accepted. I picked up the Collies magazine from the Popular Dogs series, and in the feeding section it mentions "dogs can get along quite nicely on vegetarian dog food...". Now that is something I didn't expect to see in a mainstream publication. The magazine DogFancy even had a short blurb on veg dog foods several months ago that was very positive. I hope to see this trend continue.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Free Balanced Recipe!

I don't know how long this promo code will work, so if you want to do this, do it fast! Go to, select their pet lovers page and formulate a recipe. You have to choose a protein source and a starch source; their only vegan protein source is tofu. Then you choose a recipe option. Check the details on each one, it will tell you the ingredients (some have added chicken broth for flavor, but some are totally vegan.) Then you have to fill out your name and email, your pet's name, breed and age, etc. It will give you the option of getting the recipe formulated using normal human vitamins, or their own BalanceIt supplements. Go ahead and check off only the one with "normal" vitamins, unless you want to pay for their supplements. Then on the order page, you must fill out the contact info, but you do NOT have to fill out any credit card/payment info. Enter "homemade" (without the quotes) in the "Promo code" box on the right. This will retally your price to $0.00. At that point, you will be able to view your recipe. I recommend printing it out immediately. I just did this 5 minutes ago, so I know it works as of today. The recipe will be balanced for your dog's size, age, and breed!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Vegan Dog Nutrition Association

From their site: "The Vegan Dog Nutrition Association is a network of professional consultants, writers, educators, other dog care experts, and dog guardians that share an interest in advocating for vegan diets for domestic dogs and informing others."

They have articles, recipes, resources, and an email list dedicated to the discussion of vegan dogs.

Check it out here.