As a pet owner, it’s nice to share your food with your dog every once in a while. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you might wonder if your bulldog could also follow a similar diet. Can bulldogs be vegan or vegetarian and yet be healthy?
Can bulldogs live on a vegan or vegetarian diet?
Bulldogs can be vegan or vegetarians and live healthy, full, long lives. As long as a dog receives enough calories and nutrition, they can have a flexible diet. If your bulldog gets the appropriate amount of daily protein, then it does not matter if they get it from a meat or vegetable source.
Dogs are omnivores, which means that they can transform the building blocks of protein, called amino acid, into other nutrients. This means that dogs can get all their essential amino acids without eating any meat.
A dog’s diet requirement varies depending on his or her living environment, activity level, and age. Diets are made to contain specific nutrients rather than specific ingredients. Thus, every bulldog’s diet needs to have adequate nutrient levels which include:
- amino acids such as arginine, lysine, and methionine
- vitamins A, B, and C
- minerals such as sodium, phosphorous and calcium
These are the fundamental dog food requirements. Many commercial pet foods that are plant-based aim to meet these fundamentals. If your fur-baby gets all these ingredients on a daily basis, you are good to go.
Are dogs biologically set-up to exist on a meat-free diet?
The simple answer is yes, since digs are omnivores, they can technically subsist on a meat-free diet without any problems. Some other species that belong to the canine classification include skunks, raccoons, bears, and a strict herbivore, the giant panda.
From a biological perspective, dogs don’t have the adaptations of metabolism for strict animal flesh diets that are seen in true-blue carnivores like ferrets and cats.
Compared to carnivores, dogs produce more starch-digestive enzymes, which have lower amino acid and protein requirements. Dogs can also use plant-sourced vitamins A and D just like humans.
Some evidence even suggests that dogs evolved from wolves by eating more plants. Based on all these factors dogs are classified more accurately as omnivores than carnivores.
Is it healthier for a bulldog to have at least some meat in its diet instead of none?
Not really, if you make sure it gets all the appropriate daily requirements for protein. If a bulldog can get the protein it needs from a plant-based diet and eggs then there is no need to eat meat at all. The controversy crops up when people assume your bulldog will be deprived of protein when it is deprived of meat.
When your English bulldog gets the appropriate amount of daily protein from other sources and not from meat, he or she can live a long, healthy life with all their nutritional needs met. Protein comes from meat, but it also comes from:
- Other soy products
What nutritional value do bulldogs get from meat that they can’t get from meat substitutes?
There are no nutrition challenges that vegetarians face. This applies to people and dogs.
Eggs make an excellent protein source. Even diets that don’t include animal products, like veganism can be okay for dogs. The correct balance of various sources of plant-based protein such as whole grains, soy, corn, and beans, can still provide the necessary amino acids.
What are some vegan or vegetarian high-quality dog food recommendations?
Just like the practice of veganism in humans, vegan dog food is formulated by excluding animal-based products. Dog food classified as vegan can incorporate the use of soy, vegetable oil, nuts, legumes, cereals, vegetables, and fruits. Any other food not based on animals can also be incorporated.
The domesticated omnivorous canine has gone through enough evolution to be able to handle a low-protein diet and metabolize carbohydrates. Thus, vegan diets formulated properly and balanced can be substantial. Here are some vegan high-quality dog food recommendations:
- Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan Dry Food
- Petguard Organic Vegan Entree Formula
- Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Dry Dog Food
- Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula Dry Dog Food
- V-Dog Kind Kibble Vegan Adult Dry Dog Food
And don’t forget to check out this post on healthy treats for your bulldog (not all are vegan and/or vegetarian, but most are!).
Should non-vegetarians even care about this information?
Yes. Think about it, if dogs can live healthy, long lives consuming a diet made solely from plant-based protein sources, then we can remove the stereotype that dogs can only eat meat to survive.
The issue may just be one of acceptance. Dogs that are accustomed to eating diets full of meat might go through a stage of wondering what happened to all the chicken and beef they were used to eating. It is easy to overcome this if you gradually reduce your dog’s intake of meat, and mix in some meat in his or her new veggie diet, so that it is less startling of a transition. And voila! Before you know it, your dog could be vegan as well!
What do vets generally recommend for bulldogs’ diets? Do any recommend a vegan or vegetarian diet?
Vets will normally recommend regular dog food for your bulldog that has enough protein and meets all your bulldog’s nutritional requirements.
Unless the dog owners require the dig to be vegan or vegetarian, your vet will most likely say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, if making your dog eat meat makes you squeamish or presents a quandary of ethics for you, your vet will be happy to inform you that there are options you can take.
Even if you are happy that your canine’s food contains meat, knowing about all the plant-based protein sources does help in balancing the nutrition profile of your pup. In other words, your vet will most likely spell out all the possible options you should know about.
The good news is that in this age of information, there is so much knowledge about what works and what does not for your pet bulldog.
If you do decide to put your bulldog on a vegan/vegetarian diet, are there any additional vitamin supplements you should be giving them?
If your bulldog is getting all its nutrition from its food, there is no need to supplement it with anything else. Pet owners that want to be sure do insist on a supplement. However, it is possible to derive all your pet’s nutrition from the vegan/vegetarian food your bulldog loves. Some bulldog owners feel that plant protein is just not a high-enough source of high-quality protein. Naturally, there is an anti-vegan dog camp that includes passionate assertions that the biology of dogs is simply not compatible with vegan diets without a supplement, but they are just plain wrong.
Others argue that bulldogs can live healthy, long lives with no ingredients derived from animals.
Can bulldogs digest starch?
Yes. Among other things, the job of the pancreas is to produce enzymes dogs need to digest every kind of food. The bulldog’s pancreas do a great job of breaking down plant starch. The plants that humans can digest are the same plants that dogs can digest. There is no evidence that a high carbohydrate diet damages the pancreas.
Dogs including bulldogs have evolved to become more omnivorous than carnivorous. As for the issue of cellulase, no mammal whether omnivore, herbivore, or carnivore makes this enzyme. That is why dogs and people can’t digest high cellulose plants, such as hay. Grains, vegetables, and fruits don’t have enough cellulose to cause digestion issues for dogs.
Through thousands of years, dogs have evolved to become omnivores rather than pure carnivores. Plant-based sources can provide all the nutrition dogs need. Dogs that consume vegan food are often more energetic, leaner, and healthier. Other benefits of feeding your bully a vegan diet includes:
- weight management
- improved coat/skin
- better oral hygiene
- allergy elimination
We hope this post is helpful for you and helps debunk the myth that dogs are carnivores. Your English bully can in fact be a vegan or vegetarian, and yet live a healthy, long life.